I have to sell a little piece of paradise, and I’m hoping you will help me.
I mean, I don’t have to have to, I’m not a desperate seller, but it doesn’t make sense for me to hang on to it.
Way back in 2007, about 15 minutes before the housing bubble burst, my husband and I inked the papers on our house on Lake Oconee. We both grew up on the beach – him in Miami, me in New York – and we are water people. Living in northeast Georgia, being landlocked, we felt restrained. A lake house seemed the answer to our problems. Plus, at the time, real estate was a no brainer investment. I called the house my 401k. When we sold it, I figured, I could use the proceeds to retire to the actual beach. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.
I knew what a great privilege it was to have that place. The previous owners left us all their furniture and pots and pans and linens, so moving in was a matter of buying a new toothbrush.
I remember our first dinner, looking out over the picture window at the lake and the Oconee National Forest across the cove and thinking, “We OWN this view!” It was quite a heady feeling.
My children were young then — three and five. We wouldn’t let them step foot near the dock without a life jacket on. We couldn’t get them out of the water. They were water bugs, swimming all day, playing with the thick mud on the bottom of the lake, and splashing each other with reckless abandon.
They learned to swim without lifejackets. They learned to waterski and go tubing. They played outside without the internet or television or video games. They even learned to roller skate and ride bikes in the quiet cul-de-sac.
It was paradise. Those long, lazy summer days were by far the greatest joy in my life. I read books in hammocks, played water games with my kids and their friends, and built fires in the firepit, and listened to an impressive array of night noises.
I made friends with the family of bats living behind the shutter. I evicted armadillos, more than once.
The house itself is not a luxury structure. The floors are uneven and the carpet hideous. The kitchen is tiny and the closets are small. But the back deck, at the back of a cove in a quiet part of the lake is enough on its own. It is sturdy and covered. There are picnic tables with rounded corners and movable benches. There’s a wooden glider, a rocking chair, and a hammock chair, and three ceiling fans. During thunderstorms I sit in the hammock chair, swaying in the breeze, watching the lightning or reading a book or talking to my friends and family.
Oh, the belly laughs I’ve had on that porch.
Oh, the conversations I’ve had with my friends while laying on $5.00 floats in the middle of the lake. We’ve solved the world’s problems there, if only anyone would listen, and exchanged a great deal of juicy gossip.
And now my children are teenagers. Neither of them has so much as gotten wet in the past year and a half. Their friends are not at the lake, and the internet is slow. I can – and do – force them to go, but it isn’t as much fun when you have hostages. That is, when we can go. Every weekend is something. A concert, a tournament, an unmissable event. We are there so seldom now that if you were to divide our mortgage payment and the electric bill by the number of days we spend there, it’s almost a thousand dollars a night. For a thousand dollars a night, I can stay at the Ritz and have someone else scrub the toilet.
So it is time to sell paradise, to pass it on to the next generation of people who will love it. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And after you’ve bought my slice of paradise, please invite me to visit. There will be a part of me always there, anyway.
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter, or on Facebook. For the Best of Lori, read her books, “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and her latest release, the 2017 eLit Gold Medal winner for humor, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.”