Annapolis Home Magazine, 2010
Every Saturday, I meet my realtor for another discouraging house hunting exercise. Finding a sensibly priced house on the water that does not need a full tear-out renovation or significant upgrade is like looking for a missing contact lens in the Bay at dusk.
Today would be different, I vowed.
The agent maneuvered his car to the dead end of a rutted road. “You’re going to like the view at this property,” he tells me. “But the house needs work.”
I stood back while he punched his code into the key box. “Is it my imagination,” I asked, “or is the whole house leaning to one side?”
The front door hung askew in the jamb. Above, a gabled window positively dangled from exposed hinges flaked with rust. “It looks like the house from Psycho.” I ducked and followed him through the dilapidated doorway.
Inside, the kitchen floor sloped by thirty degrees. None of the light fixtures worked. Mangled wires poked out of an electrical socket, frayed thin and suspiciously gnawed. In the dining room, a wide hole in the ceiling gave way to the upstairs hallway and the attic beyond. I thought I saw eyes looking back at me from up there. I declined to view the upstairs bedrooms, escaping instead to the eroded and pock marked lawn where I marveled at the view beyond. It was an impressive vista as long as you kept your back to the house.
Our next stop was a long ranch-style home set on an elegant garden of magnolias and mature grasses. The view was spectacular: the convergence of two rivers provided an unbroken panorama of land and water, complete with the sound of water slapping against the shore on three sides. I’d sleep well here. The house had an open floor plan, plenty of rooms, plenty of closets. The kitchen was renovated with high quality appliances and well considered natural wood and flawless marble. It was perfect. Perfect!
Except for the basement. “There was a water issue.” The agent held open the basement door. “But the owners spent a fortune on waterproofing.” Even before he turned on the light, I could see the water line, a full five inches above the cement floor. The stairway leading down ended precipitously, three steps short, leaving no option but to jump the remaining distance. “I’m too old to jump,” he claimed. I suspect he knew what was down there. I leapt from the step and my sandals made a little splash. “Maybe the owners should call the waterproofing company and get their money back,” I suggested while drying my toes with paper towels. It was an ideal property, we agreed once we’d returned to the car. “If you don’t mind living on Noah’s Ark.”
The agent turned to me and asked: “Do you assign a name to every house we see?”
“After two years of looking,” I answered, “it’s the only way I can keep them straight.”
The Runway sat on an expansive piece of land on a quiet cove with a long length of bulkhead and a pier of good construction. A pristine cottage with a story-book white porch, the house had spacious rooms and lovely bay windows with magnificent views of the South River. The attic had been converted to a loft space with peaked ceiling and exposed beams. Charming.
I found myself mentally dividing the space: I’d work in the front sun-room, my husband would use the loft for painting. We meandered out to the pier and stood together, discussing an offer when a deafening noise thundered overhead. Instinctively, we dropped to the deck and assumed a defensive posture: hands over the head, crouched low, limbs tucked.
“What is it?” I screamed. At that instant I spotted a UFO coming directly toward us at high speed, intending a kamikaze-style landing on the very pier on which we cowered. When it was a few yards over our heads, I realized it was a single engine airplane, a Cessna, call letters Alpha Charlie 777, and it was landing at the community airport on the other side of the road. We heard the wheels squeal on tarmac.
The agent rose to his feet, clapping the dirt off his hands. “Same time next week?” he asked.