I had a great evening spending time working on a new book project with my friends. We’re developing a book of essays and photographs based on our trips to Nantucket over the years. We’re hoping to help others understand why we have such a love for the island and keep going back year after year. The rough draft of my first essay (and the photo that inspired it) follow below.
This is a picture of My House.
Okay. Not really. My actual house is a two-bedroom fixer upper on a busy land-locked street with no closet space and a bathroom door that won’t shut tight in humid weather. This picture doesn’t even represent my island home. While on island the girls and I stay in a small but adorable square cottage with green shingles and wild bunnies that live under the front porch.
Just the same, I consider this to be the house I was always meant to have, and the one that with just a little good fortune could still someday be mine.
It is located on one of the main streets of the lower village, up the road from the Brotherhood of Thieves tavern and a stone’s throw from my favorite bookstore. A more perfect location never existed.
I first laid eyes on My House during my maiden trip to Nantucket when I turned the corner and found it sitting there, just waiting for me. It is a Victorian dollhouse come to life, complete with a fully furnished front porch, gingerbread trim and the island’s only gaslight sitting outside as a beacon home. I’ve never been inside, but still know it to be filled with upholstered window seats, built-in bookcases and Mr. Rochester standing in the parlor with a decanter of brandy awaiting my arrival.
I’m not sure when the joke about “My House” started among us girls. Probably that first day when I started snapping pictures like a tourist in Times Square, shocked that the exact house I’d dreamed of since I was a little girl really existed outside a dream world. At first, we all just laughed at my one-sided love affair.
Just as I’m not sure when the joking started, I don’t remember exactly when it stopped and the belief that I had a real, organic connection to this house began. Make no mistake that but for the inconsequential little matter of a deed with my name on it, we consider this property to be mine.
Ironically, I don’t know anything about the reality of My House. Who owns it? What is its history? I briefly considered doing some research before I wrote this piece, but then worried that concrete proof that My House belongs to someone else who pays its taxes, cleans its gutters and calls the plumber when the toilet backs-up would tarnish its magic.
Without tangible proof otherwise, this behemoth of green and brown shingles can still belong to me. And it does. Every year I return to Nantucket and return to My House. I calculate how much taller the elm in the front yard has grown. I admire the bright pattern of the new cushions adorning the porch furniture and I dream. I dream of the novels I could write curled up next to the fireplace, the parties I could host in the grand dining room and the way my ornaments would adorn the Christmas tree I’d erect in the front window.
In those fleeting moments each year, My House truly belongs to me.
And I belong to it.