In the fall of 2009 while looking at houses my realtor found a curious ad. It said, “Have your friends over for a party on your very own ship.” Say what? The artist in me had to see it. It was greying and had a yellow plastic slide hanging off one side but I had stars in my eyes. I might be the only person in history to ever buy a house because there was a giant wooden ship in the back yard. I loved the little house too, a white brick ranch house that looked like a little cottage with the perfect large room for a studio with windows all the way down two walls looking out to what would become garden areas, woods, and the majestic ship itself. I bought the house.
After buying the house I turned the back yard into what people referred to as Dr. Seuss’s garden. I had two small picket fence gardens built in bright pink and lime green and the ship painted candy pink, orchid, and bright orange. The slide was removed and a staircase built. She was a dream of a ship with a mermaid on her bow. I called this corner of the yard Mermaid Cove and the area next to it with an 1800’s section of iron fence and a little woodsy area filled with pink plastic flamingos The Haunted Wood. Artful gardens sprung up everywhere, I planted bulbs by the hundreds, and all manner of creatures and unusual art elements were part of the garden. People fell in love with it.
On February 5, 2014, after an ice storm, the house burned down. I lost 4 beloved parrots in the fire and the 4 pugs and I barely made it out. It was the most terrifying night of my life. One week later, with the pugs and I holed up in an extended stay hotel another ice storm hit and a tree fell into the Magic Ship and crushed it. Not long before I moved back into the rebuilt house 8 months later the ship was demolished and carried off and that corner of the property was vacant. The ship had been the pride of the place and towered over everything, and then it was gone. And the rebuilt house has never felt like home. And my financial picture shrank to the size of a gumdrop meaning my only option in life would be to sell the house and buy something considerably smaller and half the price and use the rest of the money with the social security I will begin to draw in 3 years or so to live on. There simply was no other choice practically speaking but in reality my heart left the place when the ship went. It was the glory of the place and my pride and joy. The spirit of the little house was gone and so was The Magic Ship.
Yesterday I had my landscaper’s team come and clear everything out. All of the pots including pots filled with blooming daffodils, all of the garden art, everything was removed. He asked me what I wanted him to do. I said I wanted it to look like I never lived here. Of course the picket fences are still here and the sheds that were painted the color of the Magic Ship but everything else is gone. I watched, numb and a bit in shock, as my garden disappeared, and then I sank down in relief. It was over. A year and a half after the ship was taken down the garden went too, and the house is going on the market, and I look toward building a new life once this house sells and I find another.
My realtor wonders why I don’t stay here, and financially speaking that just isn’t an option for me. It is a newly rebuilt house from the ground up so worth a lot more than the 1970 house that I bought which should enable me to buy a nice little place, albeit considerably smaller, and have a life moving forward, but it is so much more than that. In September of 2014 the Magic Ship set sail into the sunset and my heart went with it. Now the rest of me will follow, I know not where, but I trust it will be a perfect place for the pugs and I, a place that I can write my books and publish Pastiche and enjoy the wild birds and maybe some hanging baskets of flowers along with my windchimes all around the little cottage I imagine. This was the last garden I will have made, I can’t imagine making another one save perhaps a tiny patch of ground to spread seeds on for a little seed garden to grow flowers for the house and for the birds and bees and other insects, but even that is something I cannot yet fathom.
I am older now, and quieter. I bought this house when I was 55 years old. I will turn 62 next month. It doesn’t seem like many years but I lived a lifetime in those years here, and the wheel of life keeps turning, and I, like the Magic Ship, am ready to set sail…