Have you ever done anything completely crazy? I mean since you were older than, like, 15. Like buy a house you probably cannot afford? In a foreign country?
Oh you’re out there I know. Please call me and tell me it will be okay. Because not everyone thinks so. Like my friend Memrie.
This is literally the conversation we had in a taxi on the way to the ballet last week:
Me: I have a little news for you.
Me: You won’t approve.
Me: I bought a house in England.
Memrie: Oh no. London?
Me: No, in the Country.
Frances bursts out laughing.
Memrie: Well you’ve just been through a divorce and everyone says you shouldn’t make any major decisions for a year.
Me: Well it’s been a year. And it’s not like it was an impulse. This has been a twinkle in my eye for a long time…
Memrie: Well I just want you to enjoy New York.
Me: Aww. I will. I’ll be here a lot. I’ll just be there some, too.
Memrie: Well where is it?
Me: Gloucestershire, in the Cotswolds. A village called Painswick. The “queen of the Cotswolds” they call it. I don’t know what the “king” is. But the actual King’s house Highgrove is not too far away in Tetbury.
Memrie sighs loudly.
Memrie: Do you have a picture?
Well now that you ask.
This is Painswick and the parish church of St Mary’s, which incidentally is the name of the Raleigh, N.C., boarding school Memrie and I both attended. (I thought that was a sign.) The church is famous for its 99 yew tree topiaries and for the legend that whenever a 100th yew is planted, it won’t grow because the devil won’t let it. But that seems silly because there are more than 100 trees in the churchyard.
And this is the house, which you can see walking through the trees. When I first saw it my heart fluttered, and that was before I knew it was the house I was meant to see.
But the minute I walked through the door, I felt it was the house I was meant to have. It is called Lovedays House, after the name of the family that built it around 1740.
Lovedays. I mean come on.
It looks big but isn’t, two rooms wide and one room deep, with two little attic rooms at the top. I picked up the keys about two weeks ago. It has a bed (thank you sweet previous owners) but not a stick of anything else. It will take a while. “A journey” as people like to say. And I hope you will come with me, and that we will be in this together.
And while Memrie has her doubts, His Grace thought it was a great idea. Which was sweet.
By way of backstory, some of you know, I spent time this summer in the Cotswolds, and that I sorta fell in love with it, despite a fair amount of rain and several automotive mishaps. But the longer I was there the more it felt like home. I know about three and a half people there, one of whom thank goodness is a longtime and special friend, but that is about it. I’m anxious about being such a UFO, and lord knows the social missteps I will make.( I am still traumatized from the fancy London dinner party I was invited to when I was 16, and I’ll leave it there.)
For today, and tomorrow and tomorrow, I will hope for the best.
More to come… Heaven help me. xox Frances