The Poppy House

June 5, 2021

“We pass an abandoned house on our daily walks. It’s a mess, but I am drawn to it.   

Bright California poppies burst to life in the yard every spring, their blooms pushing through the overgrowth and tangled vines. We call it the “poppy house” and talk about it frequently.

‘It looks like it was well-loved once,’ I say.  

One day my husband and I send an email. ‘Please consider selling us this house. We want to make it our home, and walk our daughters to the school down the street.’

Our realtor says it’s a long shot.

But, what if?”

This “100-word story” was the first assignment I turned in to a writing workshop. Among the feedback on dialogue and sentence structure were several notes of encouragement.

“I hope whoever owns the house decides to sell it to you!”

“What a great story it would be if you got the house!”

I smiled as I read the well wishes. I hoped we would get the house too. It would be an incredible story—one of those I pulled out anytime I needed an anecdote about taking a bold step of faith.

For weeks nothing happened. We continued to pass the house daily. The grass and weeds continued to grow higher thanks to the summer sun and prolonged neglect. Each time we walked by the house it felt more like ours. Surely it would be our home eventually.

July 2, 2021

11:00pm

I shrieked loudly, interrupting David mid-guitar strum. He looked up from his practice in a panic, and found me with my face buried in my phone.

“The poppy house! It’s for sale!”

Now I waved my phone, opened to the Realtor.com app, wildly in his direction.

“It was listed 45 minutes ago!”

“You scared me, I thought something was wrong,” David sighed.

I ignored him, continuing with my frantic antics. “I’m serious, come look!”

We scrolled through pictures, trying to figure out if the place had been ransacked during its vacancy or if our former neighbor had a hoarding problem. The house had a similar layout to our current rental with some key changes.

“The fireplace is in a different spot than ours! It’s not in the playroom—I would have the long, uninterrupted stretch of wall in there I’ve always wanted,” I exclaimed.

David scrolled to a picture of the kitchen and zoomed in to see past the layer of junk that covered everything. “Hey, and the stove is a gas range!” he added.

“It’s a gas range and located where I always say ours should be,” I chimed in. “The upper cabinets blocking the view into the playroom have also been removed.”

“But the door between the garage and the kitchen is missing,” David pointed out. “How many critters do you think are hiding in those piles?”

We continued to scroll and the pictures quickly transformed in my mind. I saw a gallery wall of our family photos above a midcentury modern credenza in the living room, an expanded art and preschool area off of the kitchen, evenings snuggled up with David in front of the centrally located fireplace. The more I looked, the deeper I fell in love.

David interrupted my thoughts. “It’s priced astronomically low. Either something is really wrong with the property or we’ll be outbid by an all-cash offer.”

“Probably both,” I conceded. “But we have to try, right?”

At David’s insistence, I texted our realtor that night.

“Hi Chris, I know it’s late so I hope you don’t see this until tomorrow, but the property we sent the email about is on the market…”

July 3, 2021

I woke up to a reply text.

“That is quite a project! Are you and David interested in scheduling a showing?”

“I know, it’s a huge mess! We are very interested in a showing.”

David and I fed the girls breakfast while we finished up the last details of our mortgage pre-approval application. By 9:00am we had an appointment to see the house on the calendar and 100% of our paperwork turned in. The quick pace of everything made me dizzy. At the same time, I felt peace. If we got the house, it would be a sure sign we were supposed to be there. While I repeatedly reminded myself it was a long shot, I also couldn’t help but think we could beat the impossible odds. The inkling I felt to cold-call the homeowners a month prior had to mean something. Could we really come out empty-handed when I felt such a strong, inexplicable pull to the house?

At 10:30am, a call from Chris gave us our answer. After 12 hours on the market the sellers received and accepted a single offer. They wouldn’t even allow us to submit a sight unseen backup offer. The house was under contract.

Still whirling from the events of the morning, I declared that a few of our kitchen cabinets needed to be reorganized and set off on a solo trip to Target. I joked it was retail therapy, though the disappointment hadn’t had a chance to sink in yet. I browsed the aisles in the kitchen section, weighing equally the pros and cons of different sized OXO POP containers and the pros and cons of what we had just gone through.

Weeks later, I’m still left with more questions than answers. Why didn’t the homeowners respond to our email before putting the house on the market? Why did we feel such a strong call to put ourselves out there if it wasn’t going to work out? Why do I still feel like it should be our home?

Sometimes we don’t get a reward for being bold, other than the satisfaction of having tried.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Bold”.

2 thoughts on “The Poppy House

  1. Laura says:

    I hate that you didn’t get the house (but maybe one day you will!) but I love what you did with this! Sometimes, we do just have to put ourselves out there and see what happens even if we don’t get the fairy tale ending!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mrskfit says:

    I was pulling for you too!! The house hunting process in CA is not for the faint of heart. We learned this a few years ago! Praying that another “poppy house” is still out there for you. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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