I went to college, became a city police officer, and got married. For me,Flanderswas put on the back burner until my then husband and I stayed at the bungalow one weekend. He was bitten by theFlanders’ bug and decided he loved it there, but he refused stay another night in the cramped bungalow with my four siblings, their friends, and my parents. I agreed. We found and bought the house that I now have inFlandersthat is just minutes away from my parent’s bungalow. It was just a summer house then, but we decided that we wanted to live permanently out East and we left the co-op inQueens. We moved in while we searched for a bigger house. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out in my marriage. After my divorce, it just made sense for me to stay there and raise my three children. It became my sanctuary; the place that helped me heal and regain my strength and independence.
I knew I had to start a new career, so I enrolled at SouthamptonCollege. If my home became my sanctuary,SouthamptonCollegewas the place where I was allowed to be my creative self and test the waters of my intellect. I had writing teachers that encouraged me and scribbled notes that meant more to me than they could possibly understand. Indira Ganesan, Robert Reeves, Roger Rosenblatt, and Robert Pattison(my advisor) are some who nurtured me as a writer, academic, and future teacher.
After I graduated fromSouthampton, I made the decision to move in with my parents, inNassaucounty. I needed their help with babysitting and hoped to find a teaching job in the area. I left the house inFlanderswith the intent that we would use it as it was originally intended, a summer escape. My intended temporary living situation, turned into a permanent one. That is why, I think, it became so important for me to hold on to the house inFlanders. By doing so, I was keeping some sort of my independence. The summer escape plan really didn’t pan out. While I had good memories stored in that framed building, there were the painful ones of a marriage that didn’t survive. I really couldn’t go out there and spend time, because I was so busy with my new job and the kids didn’t want to leave their friends during the summer, and neither did I. For some years, the house lay dormant. My parents occasionally stayed out there for a weekend, but other than the occasional ride out there to check on the house, it didn’t get much use. Over time and bad weather, the roof started to leak. The leaks damaged the walls and the floors. I ignored it all. Lack of money and energy prevented me from repairing it. In some sort of sad way, I just wanted it to fall apart and go away. The painful memories of my failed marriage needed to die.
Two years ago, I nearly got my wish after one of the most severe storms blastedLong Island. The basement flooded, and the roof leaked worse than ever. I was forced to make repairs, but did so half-heartedly. With the constant people traffic in my parents house (I have quite a few nieces and nephews), a need for a quiet writing space, and the possibility of the house falling apart, I decided it was time to renovate the Flanders house, and make it better than it was before.
New walls, windows, and floors have given the house a new life. As I drive out toFlanders, I’m filled with the same excitement and anticipation of that young girl heading out East after the last day of school. The house inFlandersis, once again, my sanctuary.
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