This is not a tale of everything happening for a reason, but of how wonderful things can be the result of a less-than-ideal situation. How is that different? You tell me.
Last year we sold our house so we could build a barn and bring home the ponies. James and Popsicle are old men now, and they deserve to hang out in our backyard and be pets. Finding something that checks all the boxes is difficult in a regular world, but almost impossible in Covidland.
In May, our realtor, Lisa, decided to move to Florida. Her house would have been perfect for us and the ponies: lots of land, a mile from downtown Chester. Super long driveway so when the ponies escape, there is nowhere to go. A half-mile from Sasha. A pool with a pergola and a terrace with an outdoor fireplace. And the house itself is spectacular. I wanted it so freaking badly. But it wasn’t meant to be. So Lisa and I kept looking.
Our closing date came and went and still no house. Fear not, I have the loveliest parents in the world and they invited us to live with them. They have a lower level that is basically an apartment. Yep, I was a fifty-year-old living in my parents’ basement. And you know what? It was the greatest summer ever. You heard me. Best. Summer. Ever.
Why, you ask? Family. My stepdad had some health things (he’s great now, thank you for asking) that left my mom alone in the house for a while. It was perfect timing for us to move in. And when Nick came home, getting to walk upstairs and hang out with my parents was pretty freaking awesome. We often had dinner together. Kurt and I fixed stuff around the house. It was a win-win for everyone.
And then there was Cooper and Ainsley, especially Ainsley. She’s always been very close to my parents and living with them for the summer was the best thing in the world for her. They took her to the garden. She did their grocery shopping, she often ditched us to have lunch and dinner with them. Having grown up very close to my grandmother, I can say firsthand that there is something magical about spending time with your grandparents when you’re a kid. It’s time none of us will ever get back.
Ainsley loves animals and was thrilled to spend time with Piper, my parents’ dog. Neither my mom nor Nick are very mobile these days, so Ainsley took Piper for long walks, comforted her when it stormed and played with her every day. Ainsley got to have the dog she’d always wanted.
A few weeks after we moved, my good friend Ken needed help at a horse show he runs. Princeton and Ken are two of my favorites, and any time spent at a horse show is good for my soul. So I called Ken and got hired. Ainsley had a summer job and there is no way I would have been able to split for two weeks if we hadn’t been living with my parents. They dropped her off at work, picked her up and took her to the barn. They were lifesavers. There is mad truth to that whole “it takes a village” thing.
At the show, I befriended two stewards, and realized being a steward would be a great way for me to stay involved in horse shows and be with my peeps. To fulfill a prerequisite, I would need to show at a USEF show. This led me back to more favorites—Peter Leone and Lionshare Farm.
For more than two glorious months, I spent four days a week at Lionshare training with Peter and his team. Peter’s Farm is in Bedford, New York, but it could be on Mars and I would have figured out a way to get there. However, being that much closer coming from Madison and knowing Ainsley would be with my parents when I was gone made the whole experience even groovier.
As if this summer weren’t perfect enough, I was offered a cabin in Woodland, my childhood paradise. For two months I split every weekend to ride and then went to Woodland. There is no way I would have been able to do this if I didn’t have my parents to pick up my slack.
Summer was almost over, and still no house. But I was happy. Dinner with my parents, riding my bike to the beach, and my kids spending time with their grandparents made for a perfect summer. Our time in Madison felt less like house purgatory and more like home.
One day while showing us another bust of a house, Lisa mentioned she’d had offers on hers but hadn’t found the right buyers. Her husband, Steve, had built it and they wanted the next owners to love it as much as they did.
That night Kurt and I went out to celebrate our 23rd anniversary and he said we should make an offer. The next morning I called Lisa. She said from the second she and Steve decided to move, she’d wanted us to have the house. Then she left me speechless when she accepted our offer.
There’s no smooth segue here, so I’ll just spit it out. Remember how happy Ainsley was taking care of Piper? Despite me not being a dog person, my kids needed a dog. I’d investigated adopting a rescue dog earlier in the year and it would have been easier to buy a kidney on the black market. So, I didn’t have high hopes when I applied this time. But, hours later, I found myself agreeing to pick up our puppy on October 21st, moving day.
I won’t lie. I cried three times that day. First when I said goodbye to my parents, even though I’d see them a few days later. Second when fourteen pounds of love in a puppy suit trotted off a truck and leaped into my arms. And third when I walked into our new house with my family and knew I was home.
A few days later a friend asked if I was frustrated that it took five months to end up in the house I’d always wanted. I heard Lisa telling me that everything happens for a reason and she’d always hoped I’d get her beloved home. I almost said that this was how it was supposed to be, which is pretty much the same as everything happens for a reason. But I just can’t quite wrap my head around that kind of faith.
I will admit this. If we had bought Lisa’s house in May, we wouldn’t have spent five amazing months with my parents. Ainsley wouldn’t have gotten all that time with her grandparents. She wouldn’t have bonded with their dog. I wouldn’t have realized we needed a dog and we wouldn’t now have the best puppy ever. I also wouldn’t have been able to work at Princeton, meaning I wouldn’t be training to become a steward now. I wouldn’t have spent the summer riding with Peter. And there would have been no weekends in Woodland.
I’ll never really know if fate led us to Chester or if it was just happenstance. But I do know this is where we belong.