A week or so ago I had this amazing day, most of which I spent at other people's houses. First of all, I love other people's houses. I love how different they all are and I get a kick out of trying to figure out how the houses relate to the people who inhabit them. Also, I love how they illustrate the huge variety of lifestyles and cultures found here on a fairly narrow spit of land.
I spent the afernoon in Chatham in a friend's dream home. She had it built for herself and her family and it is everything she wanted. We sat on the patio and watched the kids frolic in the garden. We moved inside and chatted about literature in the drawing room. We drank tea and had a perfectly civilized and relaxing afternoon. So foreign.
There's something cool and light about her home. If I described it properly you could lift the whole description and plagiarize it in a perfume ad. "Sparkling. Refreshing. Vibrant. A (house) that lingers in your senses for hours." Okay, that's Estee Lauder's White Linen, but you get the idea.
There was a little part of me that kept trying to think oh no she's been to my house! She knows how I live! SHE KNOWS ABOUT THE CHICKENS! But it was like trying to wake from a deep sleep and I kept slipping back into the comforts of a gracious home, figuring it just wasn't worth the effort.
And then I went to Wellfleet and had dinner at a cottage which was just being opened for the season. It had SWEEPING panoramic views of the Atlantic and was completely perfect in every way - and yet it had nothing in common with the house in Chatham.
House in Chatham: manicured lawn
Cottage in Wellfleet: beach grass and sand
House in Chatham: richly painted walls with matching outlets and crisp linen curtains
Cottage in Wellfleet: Wood paneling - no drywall, no curtains to block view.
And here's another thing: although the houses were both perfect, if the people who lived there were snobby, pompous, vile, vain or just plain ewky the houses wouldn't have had any appeal whatsoever.
Obviously that's not the case, and both homeowners are likely to find me having my coffee on their patio/deck when they wake up some morning. After all, they both told me to make myself at home.