Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The purchase of the house on Merrilee in October 2007 was, in many ways, an endpoint to what had been a fairly vagabond existence for me. For most of growing up, I split my time between two houses. Both were wonderful--whether I was rocking to the Smashing Pumpkins on my sweet boombox and learning to make masterful apple pies at one house or greeting my then-toddler sister at 2 AM to watch the Lion King at the other. But the back and forth was tough at times. College meant the usual constant moves from dorm to dorm, study-abroad program to study-abroad program. Law school was more of the same, as I had a knack for moving into housing situations that were temporary such as my accidental move to a party house on a street I later discovered went by "McFratty Boulevard."
Brenda Sandoz, quickly perceived our contract was not going to work out, we visited just one more place--the house on Merrilee Lane.
In that first look, we could tell the house, which was built in 1948, had its issues. We noted a hump in the ridgeline of the house and rotten French doors leading to a deck. There was a carpeted mudroom that had been well-loved and seemingly well-urinated by the owners' dog. The owners' children had left an array of crayon sketches in unusual places such as cabinets, closet doors, and ceilings.
But we barely noticed these minor defects. Instead we fell in love with a big backyard and deck. The open floor plan and spacious rooms foretold great parties. After bouncing through dorms and apartments, this house provided room to breathe, and we fell in love. We celebrated our one-year anniversary eating Scalini's Pizza on the floor of the kitchen while we waited for coats of paint to dry.
Queue the montage of home improvement. I spent about ten hours and four Home Depot trips on a beautiful Fall day replacing door locks. We painted nearly every interior surface in the house, some multiple times to get the color just right. We ripped up the dogified carpet and added tile. We installed gorgeous and shockingly expensive French doors to replace those that had rotted. We added gutters to protect our shockingly expensive French doors. We straightened the hump out of the ridgeline. We gardened like fiends, turning a barren patch of clay soil into an abundance of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. We had beers on the back patio with our plumber, a guy who has had a hand in replacing every water-related appliance in the house. We hired a window cleaner named Keith to clean our windows, and then we repaired the windows when Keith accidentally sent his ladder crashing through a couple of them. We replaced a rotting and warped pine fence with a beautiful cedar one. When baseball-sized hail arrived this past summer, we put on a new roof. We created a laundry room, and I spent many hours in the crawl space, wishing I were a much shorter person as I adjusted the dryer vent.
But it was so much more than five years of maintenance and hard work. We hosted three semi-legendary (at least in our minds) paella parties. We hosted wedding showers and then baby showers, sometimes for the same couples. We hosted out-of-town family: aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, brothers and their girlfriends, cousins, college friends, and really anyone who needed place to crash in Dallas. We cooked and hosted our first Thanksgiving--which featured a turkey sheltered by a geodesic dome of pears. I grew and later shaved off two excellent mustaches. Megan and I spent many hours together, just the two of us, with books or guitar or pottery wheel or conversation, a glass of wine or pint of beer, on the back deck enjoying the sunshine, the shade, and sometimes a summer rain.
This year we turned the office into the guestroom and the guestroom into a nursery. Miller moved into the house in April, and again our lives in this house were transformed. In his earliest weeks, his cries could be soothed by a few minutes in the backyard where he would stare up at the big tree. We rocked him for hours and paced around the house trying to get him to sleep. He and I watched a lot of Texas Rangers baseball--particularly when the Rangers were out West and the games ran late. He peed on us a time or two (don't worry, future buyers, we cleaned up), and he transitioned from consuming small quantities of milk to craving bananas and rice cereal, avocados and sweet potatoes.
We love this house, but we know it is time to move on. If you know someone looking for a great place to live, send them our way. We'll be happy for them to look around and see the possibilities. For now, as we have for the last five years, we'll enjoy beautiful Fall days on the back deck discussing the future while Harper chases squirrels and Miller stares up with wonder at the big tree.
Posted by Brad Knapp at 8:19 PM