Little House

I arrived in Washington DC today, fresh from an all-day, one-stopover, slightly-delayed flight from L.A. I’m here to help with final preparations to sell my house — or, our house, I should say. The one Stella and I bought together in the summer of 2001, just two years after she moved to the U.S. from London.

We bought it seven years ago, after hiring a real estate agent and looking at exactly two places. The first was in upper NW DC, a Wardman home that was huge and lovely, but in the wrong neighborhood altogether. The second house we looked at was sweet, cute, small, on a lovely street, with a garden, and two blocks from the metro. After a hushed discussion in the alleyway behind the house, during which Stella insisted — quite rightly, in retrospect — that the house was perfect, we put a bid on it. And won it.

Whoa. We were homeowners! I had never owned a home before, but Stella had, in England. I was scared; she was not. But we leapt right in, and moved in during the dog days of summer — mid-August of 2001.

A few weeks later, Stella, Dave and I sat glassy-eyed in front of the TV, watching Wolf Blitzer and Aaron Brown try to make sense of the September 11 attacks. God, what had happened? And what had we done, buying this house, investing in Washington, D.C., when now everything was uncertain, everything had changed. We sipped Scotch and devoured cookies we baked fresh that night, desperately seeking some sort of normalcy amid the madness that seemed suddenly to have consumed the world. In the weeks that followed, we tried to make our house a home despite lingering feelings that everything was suddenly, irretrievably, out of whack.

Our home, built in the late 19th century, sat on a street of similar row houses. This had been a thriving neighborhood throughout the first half of the 20th century — “Black Broadway,” a neighborhood of juke joints and piano bars just blocks from where Duke Ellington grew up and started his career.


It was, in real estate parlance, a “transitional” neighborhood. Meaning, new stores and restaurants were sprouting up, while at the same time our house got tagged by graffiti and we had our car stereo stolen several times.

We set about making the house our own. We painted it:

Before:

…and after:

We redecorated the living room…

… and kitchen / dining room:

We lived there through winter…

…and summer…

… through storms and droughts and fights and reconciliations and happiness and trouble and joy.

We had holiday celebrations…

Halloween:

Thanksgiving:

Christmas:


And cocktails in the garden:

While around us, the neighborhood changed too. The old Thomas’ Lunchenette…

…with the most fabulous tagline in all of lunch counter history…

“There’s only two places to eat… Home & Thomas Lunch”

… was turned into condominiums.

And still the changes kept coming.

Stella and I replaced the roof, refurbished the kitchen, redesigned the garden, made dinner for friends, entertained our families, lived our lives… and eventually went through a breakup. I moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve now been for more than a year, believe it or not.

And now, we’re selling the house — a move that feels like the end of an era. I’ll miss it this old house. It’s hard to imagine that this week might be the last time I ever set foot in it. So many good times, so many memories.

I’m so glad to be where I am now, delighted to be in L.A. and enjoying my new life. But a few hours from now, when I go to the house to finish preparing it for the open house this weekend, I can only imagine how strange and sad it will feel.

Goodbye, house! Thanks for the many happy memories. I hope whoever buys it will have as many good times as we did living in it. And I hope, above all, that they pay a wonderful, big, happy premium over our asking price.

14 responses to “Little House”

  1. ssw says:

    You managed to capture both incredibly deep feelings of sadness and loss, but also a rich appreciation for good times, love, friendship, life. It’s a striking blend and my heart goes out to you (both).

  2. Rachel says:

    Thanks to both of you for being so generous with your hospitality over the years. I’ll miss this place, but home is more about people, I think. Good luck in the new chapter of life, and good luck selling!
    p.s. Parrish, I still can’t believe you’re out of L.A. just as I come to town! Like ships in the night, we are.

  3. hey, LP and Stella — thinking about you both — and about loads of good times — this wk. loved the pictures. will miss the patio, but not as much as we miss regular doses of LP.

    we’ve dedicated a fair amount of space to housing transitions on this thing, haven’t we? lking fwd to trixie’s next installment to keep this ball rolling.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ll miss that little house.

  5. lane says:

    “sigh”

  6. jeremy says:

    Aw, this post made me wistful for a place I’ve never been, sad that I never got a chance to visit you at your “little house” in DC–and then I was like, oh yeah, we’ve got you over here now! (Even if we don’t see each other as often as we should)… See you when you get back, though…

  7. brooke says:

    I remember the first time I met you two and the only time I saw the house, I was bringing some stuff down to you to take up to trixie’s house for the famed NYE party. I believe I tracked in a little bit of dog poo into your foyer. Sorry about that.

  8. Tim says:

    Same goes for me as for Jeremy; I’m feeling nostalgia for all those holidays and weekend afternoons I missed at this house, LP. Contrarily, I never did track in any dog crap, or ding a wall with a doorknob, so I’m off the hook that way.

    I hope all goes well with putting it on the market. Sell high!

  9. Jenomnibus says:

    LP, you have fabulous decorating sense. If you and Stella were men, I’d think you were gay.

  10. Andrea says:

    I just want Lisa and Stella to know (Lisa is out walking Lucy and Stella has taken Brian to the 9:30 Club) that I have a lump in my throat and tears running down my face after reading this entry. As your friend, I love you both. And I actually cannot stop crying.
    As your Realtor, I’ll do my damn best to get you a great offer this weekend. Unless Brooke screwed it all up with that dog poop he tracked in years ago.

  11. Cynthia says:

    wow what a great post and enjoyable read

  12. lane says:

    well I don’t quite have a lump in my throat, but Andrea reading your words, and thinking of you, there, thinking those thought, and . . .

    But I’m trying to put sentimentalism behind me, or at least control it a little.

    To Stella and Lisa, what better tribute could you have, what better token is there that what Andrea wrote?

    And now I do have a lump in my throat . . .

    “As your Realtor” ( ! . . . Ah WIT . . . a delicious defense!)

    We love our DC friends,

  13. LP says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments and good wishes! I’m sitting in the house right now, having a latte from my favorite local coffee shop and reading my favorite website – one more good time in this sunny little place. Of course, I’m just procrastinating before painting the front door, spackling, etc. But hey – good times is good times. And home is where the great whatsit is.

  14. O'Godfrey says:

    O’Godfrey say: “See you when you get back to this HOME.”