You Can Come Home Again
By Robin Jovanovich
As part of the supposed savvy set, who moved across state lines to save thousands and thousands of dollars in property taxes every year so there might be something to retire on and a little something extra for the dog, and oh, yes, the children, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves.
But as writer Saul Bellow noted, “more die of heartbreak.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Greenwich, by the way. They pave their streets, maintain their sidewalks, and have an actual, not virtual, six-day-a-week downtown police officer, directing traffic. Drivers wait for pedestrians to cross at designated crosswalks and they innately understand which car goes first in a roundabout — or maybe they read the manual?
In our two years “abroad”, I have yet to see anyone attempting a U-turn on Greenwich Avenue, unlike Purchase Street where it’s become de rigueur.
But while Greenwich has a world-class public library, a recycling center that’s pleasant, monitored, and contains a book donation area as well as designated slots for metal, garden debris, batteries, and mattresses — I’m there at least once a week and the last time I went a gentleman offered to take the trash out of my car — it’s not necessarily a community. If I was snowed in, it was unlikely that a neighbor would come over and lend me his snow blower. When we were burglarized and every piece of jewelry I owned taken, most of our neighbors started looking at me cross-eyed, as if I were “connected” and it had been a mob hit. Furthermore, no one ever brought us cookies or invited us past their front door mat.
So, I started daydreaming about one last move. What would it take to convince the dubious spouse?
It wasn’t as challenging as I thought. I planted the seed by asking, “Would you want to live in Greenwich (in a house I had done absolutely everything to) if something happened to me?” He looked up from his reading. “Nothing is going to happen to you,” he said dismissively before returning to one of his Federalist podcasts.
But on one miserable day in what was supposed to be spring, he bowled me over by asking how much I thought we could get for the Greenwich house.
After I did an extraordinary amount of number crunching and explaining how much we’d save if I moved everything from the kitchen, my closet, the bathrooms, the garage, anything that didn’t require crating or four big men — could be as much as $700 I noted proudly — my long-suffering spouse said, “ENOUGH!” He put himself in charge of hiring the realtor and the moving company. First time in 42 years.
One night, Michael McCooey, the realtor representing a lovely older and tastefully updated home in Greenhaven opened the door and offered to come hang all my photographs himself if we signed the contract that night. I fell hard for the pitch, and Greenhaven. We didn’t buy that house, but we did buy one down the street that he represented and our agent, Marianna Glennon, liked as much as we did.
We hadn’t even moved in yet when neighbors invited us to a party.
We will undoubtedly miss the Greenwich house, which had all the bookshelves we needed, brand-new everything when we were done, and a path down to the Brunswick field, where the dog loved to chase much bigger dogs and hunt rabbits, and town.
While moving is stressful, emotional, generally prompts marital discord, and rarely goes according to plan, this one went better than some. Carpet Trends delivered all my newly cleaned carpets before the movers arrived. York Antiques offered to bring the chandeliers I bought from them over and help the electrician hang them.
Last week, our first night in the house, as we were sitting down on book cartons to enjoy a celebratory glass of wine, it rained hurricane hard, and I ended up swabbing the basement with one of our contractor Chris Fitzgerald’s crew late into the night.
There may be books in boxes and photographs still not in albums for many moons to come in this sprawling 1928 Tudor, but a few rooms are actually ready for their closeup. We’re settling in and can honestly say there is no place like home.