Recently I’ve been having a fascinating series of lessons in non-attachment. It began when Michael had a birthday with a zero, found some unexpected money, and started to dream. What if we could afford a little place in the country– a summer getaway?
First he found a real estate listing that looked exactly right. We spoke to the agent and made a date to see the place, but in the meantime went to take a look. Sigh. It turned out to be wrong in many ways. But now we were hooked.
We started day-tripping around the countryside looking at beautiful scenery and ruined farmhouses. It turns out that Italians do not make small houses. Every time we’d come across a little place that looked possible from a distance, it turned out to be a chapel. And restoring a ruin was out of our price range.
So scratch the small stone cottage idea. How about a pre-fab wooden house? They make some cute ones nowadays and a little cottage with a loft was kind of what I was picturing for a summer place. We found a builder online and happened to be in the area so we took a look. The “showroom” was unimpressive– a couple of garden sheds in a vacant lot. The salesman spoke way too loudly. Maybe he thought that we’d understand him better if he spoke up. I didn’t write it off completely but was unlikely to buy from him.
We found some nice spots nearby but the land was zoned agricultural so we wouldn’t be able to build on it. The rules say you can put a camper on the property, but RV’s have never appealed to me. We kept looking.
Michael kept checking online and found a couple of places that sounded promising. We made appointments to see them. That morning Michael did a Google search on the first address and determined that it was located on a suburban street near a supermarket– not the remote location we were looking for. We almost called the guy to cancel but it was on the way to the other place so what the heck. It occured to me that maybe the address was not the sale property but just the place we were supposed to meet. That turned out to be the case.
We met the seller and followed him to the land. We parked at the entrance to a conservation area. This time of year it was very green and lush. We walked for 5-10 minutes alongside a stream then got to the place where the property began. It was advertised as 5000 square meters of vineyard and olive trees. It has not been maintained in many years so it was very overgrown.
As I looked it over it was clear to me that there was no way in hell that we could get a prefab house into this spot. It was also apparent that Michael had stars in his eyes and was practically dancing with joy at the prospect of having this land as his project. I thought to myself, “Oh, okay. This is his thing. We aren’t doing the summer cottage anymore. This is something else.
We talked it over. One of his favorite pastimes when we lived in NH was clearing brush and making pathways through the woods. It would be his park. Though our piece is only an acre, it’s surrounded by protected parkland. No neighbors. But close to a lovely medieval hill town and 35 minutes from our apartment.
The story continued to unfold. We don’t have to get a traditional RV. We can get a cool gypsy caravan. Oh and by the way a friend knows someone who can custom build one for us and he lives nearby. Oh and our agent negotiated a much lower price, and Michael’s beloved nephew wants to go in with us and possibly restore the vineyard.
By pivoting every time we got new information that didn’t match our expectations we’ve transformed what could be seen as a series of disappointments into Michael’s playground and an amusing project for the coming years.
I can’t think of another time in my life with such a perfect example of the benefits of being open to what comes. It has helped me to see other instances of where I’ve been holding on tight to things being a certain way. What’s possible when you let go?