Thirty years in one house. First, we were four; then, with O'Malley, we were 5; then Marjorie went to college, and we were 4; then Andy, and we were 3; then O'Malley died and it was just the two of us. But we had that big grand house. We didn't really need it. Sure, it was nice when the kids came home to visit, but it looked like they were really going to make it in the world and wouldn't be returning for good.
It was love at first sight with that house. As I was finishing my residency, and we decided that we'd go to Providence, we began to come down on weekends to look at houses with Miles Sydney, a real estate agent whose son, David, was a medical student on the ward where I was chief resident, who, when he heard I was moving to Providence, told me to use his father. Myles was different from other real estate agents. He wasn't a divorced Jewish woman with her first name on the license plate of her white Cadillac Eldorado, who rushed you into a house with a breathless, "Honey, this one's for you. It's got your name all over it!" No, Miles would drive around aimlessly with us, speaking slowly in that gravelly voice of his, "Well, I got a coupla houses to show you today...I'm not sure they're right for you...but maybe you'll like one...and then we'll go to my house and Elizabeth will give you her famous chicken sandwiches, and you'll tell us about David."
We did this for three weeks, seeing one or two houses on a Saturday, until finally I said, "Miles, we're moving here in four months. We have to buy a house. We have to see houses!" I asked him if he had that picture book with all the houses. "Oh, you mean the MLS? Sure, I got it somewhere here...to tell you the truth, I never look at it."
He handed me the book, and there was 150 Upton Avenue, looking like it was on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. "Can we see this one, Miles?"
"Yeah, sure. Matter of fact, I'd like to see that house. I've never seen it before."
He arranged to see the house with the selling agent. We walked into an empty, cold house. We looked around at the arched doorways, the curved railing on the staircase, and the ornate ironwork, we looked at each other, and we said, "We'll take it."
"Not so fast," says Miles, "Let's look around." What we saw were high ceilings in spacious grand rooms, a mahogany paneled study, gorgeous bathroom fixtures, and a built-in garage under the house with my life's dream: an electric door opener. A mummy-shaped bulge in the plaster wall of the garage did not faze us.
They were asking $60,000. We were coming from Newton. "Offer the asking," I told Miles.
"Not so fast," says Miles, "We'll offer $52,000, they'll take $53,000, and that'll be it. And so it was. Miles took us to the Citizens Bank himself and secured a 6.75% mortgage for us. Payments were $292.97 a month.
Miles became a dear friend. He was and is a biker. In his youth (age 60) he biked over the Pyrennées and the Alps. Today (at 90), he bikes the bike path, still trying to pick up girls, still having breakfast in the same greasy spoon in Bristol.
And we lived happily ever after in that house for 30 years.