Fifteen Years Ago
Fifteen years ago this weekend we made the move to Fairfield. As we’ve been fixing up rooms in the house, essentially swapping spaces for Deb’s home office, I’ve been thinking back to that time and what’s come after.
We chose to leave family and friends on Long Island, seeking more space and better schools in Connecticut. Deb’s brother Jim was living up here at the time and we hadn’t visited him in Fairfield so we took a trip. As we got off the highway and drove around, we were taken with the area. One looked at the other and asked, “Why are staying on Long Island?”
In 1992, Connecticut was essentially where it is now, experiencing an awful housing slowdown with prices tumbling. It was a great time to buy, we were told. We came back two weeks later, this would be the July 4 weekend I believe, and Jim’s then-wife Margaret took use around to show us the different neighborhoods and give us a better sense of the community. She wasn’t a realtor yet, but when she made the career switch, we weren’t surprised – she was good at it. Margaret set us up with a real realtor and we came back a couple of times and saw numerous homes.
The one we’re in is among the first we saw and while it was the same style as many others, there was something about the block, the oversized lot, the shape of the home that appealed to us. At the time, we had a nanny help us with the kids so we needed at least four bedrooms and a space that could function as my home office so our needs were pretty specific. In the end, we kept circling back to this house and the price had already come down once and was within reach.
At the end of July, we were in Stamford visiting with family when Deb slipped away for a few hours to take one final look at the house, which was being showcased during an Open House. They even lowered the price a second time. Thirty-six hours later, we had a deal.
The trick then was to get us in the house before school began since Kate was starting first grade. Well, that wasn’t going to happen as the guy buying our house had delays (a story for another time). Jim and Margaret offered to host Kate, letting her start school on schedule until we moved a few weeks later. For the most part that worked, as Deb would collect her every Friday so she’d be with us for the weekend, and take her back late Sunday afternoon. We spoke every day. We thought she was handling it fine until we heard she was having a series of clumsy moments — something that happens when she’s stressed. And then there was the morning she couldn’t open one eye because it swelled up thanks to a bug bite. Nonetheless, she attended class and managed.
Movers came and helped us pack up. Deb had gone up a day or two before to supervise a cleaning crew to get the house ready. Stuff was driven up on Saturday as the movers loaded the truck. Deb took Robbie up with the pets while I and Bonnie the nanny made sure everything was moved out then left the house “broom clean.” We then drove to Connecticut, leaving “home” behind.
And then the skies opened up. So, the movers unloaded in the pouring rain so the nice, clean house was strewn with mud. Items intended for the basement was loaded in the Living Room floor to ceiling (I had a lot of comics and books, as you might imagine). Kate spent a lot of time in the bathroom, keeping the cat and dog calm. Of course, we saw to it they had beds ready to sleep on and everything else would be settled on Monday. Jim and Margaret came by to help and friends of theirs joined us, bringing us take out from a local Mexican restaurant so our first dinner in our new home was spent eating atop the coffee table in the Family Room, watching the white carpet turn gray and brown.
It wasn’t all that long before we got things unpacked and found new routines. Kate stopped being clumsy and the dog, Spooky, loved the backyard. The home office was pretty much done by New Year’s and we welcomed 1993 feeling we truly had home. While the kids originally complained they would miss Lynbrook, they came to see Fairfield as their home town. We slowly got involved in the community, first through school, then through the church and of course, now, public service.
We’ve experienced a lot here, and I don’t doubt for one moment we did the right thing for the family. We still love it here and haven’t changed our opinion that this is the house we want to stay in until they carry us both out in some far-distant time.