On Meetings of Chance

I very rarely take two walks in a day, choosing to get my exercise in the morning when it is cooler. Yesterday was a rainy day off and on, and though I was very productive, I felt restless as evening approached. The weather cleared up and I decided to take Marley on a second short walk around the neighborhood.

Instead of my usual ‘make a left’ I chose at the last second to turn right on our street as we left Chez Gainey, opting for the steeper incline to burn a few more calories as this wouldn’t be a long walk. I also wanted to go to the end of the street to see my beloved Blue House, the wonderful 1920 home that I bought when I moved to Birmingham in 2002. I had been keeping an eye on it over the years, especially when it was completely renovated last year, even doing a walk-through at an open house. I was amazed at the transformation; I fixed the foundation of the house- my major contribution- but I didn’t have the money to do anything more other than cosmetic improvements.

When I first visited Blue House…
After renovations…

Marley and I rounded the corner by Blue House and I froze; there was the new owner standing by the curb. It felt like this was all meant to be. I kept my distance but called out to the woman, who looked to be about my age. I told her that I had owned the house previously and was so excited to see it have a new owner. She seemed thrilled to hear this and asked me several questions about the house’s history. I told her my story, that I had bought this house when I was dealing with the very sad and difficult breakup of a long marriage, that the house healed me as I worked on it and built a new life in Birmingham. I found Blue House while sitting in my office at Mars Hill College in North Carolina, knowing that this was where I was meant to be the moment I saw the photo on the realtor site. So much character and beauty- truly a dream home to me.


The owner told me she had goosebumps, that she had had the same instant connection with this house, telling me all that she loved about the character. It warmed my heart that another single woman was moving into Blue House to be healed. I bought the property from a single woman who also had a strong connection with it, and we both cried at the closing.

When I owned Blue House…


When I bought Blue House, I swore that I would never leave. I loved every minute living there, settling into my new job at UAB, working hard at school and working hard on healing myself. A year and a half later I met Dan, having that same visceral connection with him, knowing that I was meant to be with this kind and loving man. When we decided to live together, we dreamed and talked of the renovations we would do at Blue House, but there were some things we could never change; there was no yard, as the house was built into the corner wedge where two streets converged. There was no parking except on the busy street, the gazebo needed to be completely rebuilt, and there was just so much to do to bring the house back to its full glory. I knew that I truly loved Dan when we agreed that perhaps there was another house in the same neighborhood that would already have all of the things on our wish list; a house that would be ours instead of his or mine. There was, just at the other end of the block.

Chez Gainey…

I cried my eyes out at closing, realizing that leaving Blue House was closing a chapter of tremendous pain and growth, moving forward to happier times. I have never regretted my decision; we have had such a happy life living in our funky old Tudor, gradually making every space what we envisioned, sitting on the top deck or sunporch planning and dreaming about what we would do next. This home, this place that Dan calls the house that love built’, has healed me in other ways over the almost seventeen years we’ve lived here. I am so grateful.

Everything happens for a reason; I was meant to find Blue House, and the new owner was meant to find it, too. I hope that she will find the same joy and happiness that I discovered within those walls. She won’t have renovations to do, but then again, not all renovations involve paint, hammer and nails. Some are internal and can lead to a life that is absolutely beautiful. I know that for a fact.

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