Thursday, August 04, 2011

Bad-Boy Boyfriend House

“Oh, man,” I kept saying. “Oh, man. I love this place, and it would be nothing but trouble. It's more than we can take on.”

It stands in a gully below the veterans' hospital, flanked by half-million dollar houses. The top of it is just visible from the street: you reach it by descending a wooden stairway, thirty feet straight down the retaining wall. There it sits, a turn of the century house, overgrown with laurel and maple. The roof is thick with moss. The living room looks into a wall of sunlit green. If you could see through the trees, you'd have a splendid view of Mt St Helens. When the big Portland quake comes, it will undoubtedly slide down onto the house below it. If a fire comes up the gully, it will go up in flames. It's only surprising that the rain hasn't yet washed it down. It's a lovely house.

“It's a bad-boy boyfriend house,” remarked Martha, thoughtfully.

“A what?”

“Everybody will tell you to have nothing to do it,” she said. “It's nothing but trouble. Dangerous and exciting. And you say, 'I can change it. It's never been properly cared-for, that's all. It comes from a good neighborhood.'”


Jo Hemmant said...

LOVE Martha's comment; it really made me smile.

YourFireAnt said...

Buy the house.

Murr Brewster said...

I KNOW that house. And Dave creeps by on those stairs fairly often. That should lower the value right there.

am said...

Oh yes. I am going to tell you about two dreams.

Dreamed about a steep stairway somewhat like the stairway down to the lovely Bad-Boy Boyfriend House. That was night before last.

There were two paths leading away from a yoga class that I had found to be decidedly disappointing. The path to the left, with a slight incline, quickly curved off to in a southerly direction. It was impossible to see where it would lead from where I stood. The second path was dangerously steep and was heading nowhere I could see except down. Between the two paths was a clearcut summer forest with the chainsaw dust still settling. I saw a woman older than I am (almost 62) take the northern path. As she entered the path, it turned into a very steep stairway that was challenging but not so slippery and treacherous as it had first appeared.

My decision was to follow her lead. When I came to the bottom of the stairs, there was an emptiness that was both vast and tiny, and then I woke up.

Oh yes. Up the hill from the house is the veterans' hospital. Like the one where my bad-boy boyfriend of 42 years died. A fire came up the gully, and he went up in flames. After 1987, I realized that I couldn't change him. I loved him instead. He was a lovely creative man who wrote poetry as a young man and painted on canvas in the last days of his life at the VA hospital, suffering from a brain tumor, alcohol and drug addiction, Agent Orange exposure and PTSD. He was blind in his right eye. That eye looked like a summer sky with beautiful white clouds in it. His other eye was the color of the ocean when the sky is deep blue. You know my story.

A lovely house. A bad-boy boyfriend house. A bad-boy boyfriend. A lovely man. All of the above? Something more.

I love the dialogue between you and Martha, and I hope you find the house that you can love together, even if there are some things about it that you can't change.

By the way, I just made an offer on the condo next door to mine. A mirror image of the condo I've lived in since 1984, a bad-boy boyfriend condo that I can't afford to remodel, but the one next door is lovely. Was just reading something my grandfather wrote about our Norwegian ancestors who lived on a fjord mountainside farm for generations and then, before moving to America, moved down the hillside to the next farm below them.

Thank you so much for your post today, dale. I didn't realize how much I had to say (-:

Dale said...

:-)Thanks Jo! Teresa... hmm. Hmm. We would like a shot, if it was at the bottom of our price range, but it's at the top. So there we'd be, broke, with a house that needs *at least* a new roof before the winter rains... hmm.

Murr, maybe we could make up the difference by netting husbands who cook, and ransoming them!

Dale said...

Am, it's amazing how our ideas and memories and dreams coalesce around each other, isn't it? We're in tune on some esoteric frequency, I think. Thank you for this! xo

k said...

That analogy made me fall in love with Martha a little bit.

Dale said...


I defy anyone not to fall in love with Martha.

Kathleen said...

Love the house and the comments. New issue of The Sun has a cool interview about DREAMS in it!

Meander Knot Press said...

Oh I know the house too. You'd be so near and would then have to show up at the Stonehenge monthly poetry readings...

Jayne said...

IMHO (and from experience), you can't change the bad boy. I see flooding issues. And more. But we can't help loving the things we love.
Caveat emptor. Or is it carpe diem?! Hmmm... ;)

Zhoen said...

Please offer a sisterly kiss on the cheek to Martha for me. Beautiful.

Stay away from bad-boyfriend house. Those relationships always end in heartbreak and bitter recriminations, often with broken glass, always broke. I've been in a few apartments like that. It's one forgiveness after another, until you finally realize you've been had.

The useful and practical are what grow beautiful over the years.

marlyat2 said...

Mole's houses need moss roofs.