11 January 2013

Flashback to another life

It's strange to find a piece of your private life displayed on the internet. I say that, and here I am doing it again.

Nearly every Sunday, I look at the real estate section of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper to see if the house we sold there before we moved to Saint-Aignan might be for sale again. A couple of weeks ago, I found this site. It shows the photos taken by a real estate agent to advertise our San Francisco house for sale.

The house at 583 Congo Street didn't look like much from the street,
but it felt spacious inside. We transformed the place over the years
we lived there, including having a new kitchen put in.
We and the dog enjoyed the little back garden.

We had bought the house in 1995 and lived there for 7½ years out of the total of 17½ years that we lived in California. In March 2003, we handed over the keys to the new owners and took a long driving trip across the U.S., through Southern California and Illinois (and a lot of other states) to my mother's house in North Carolina. We spent a month there before being granted long-stay visas by the French consulate and flying off to begin this life in Saint-Aignan.
We had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. That was comfortable.
The house was built of wood, inside and out.

When we came to France in December 2002 to assess the possibility of buying a house here, we didn't know that we would soon be leaving California and relocating to France. We hadn't yet talked about selling our house. We were just exploring, or dreaming. We thought we might buy a small house in France as a holiday and retirement home, but continue living and working California for a few more years.
We also had two living rooms, effectively, and that was a luxury.
This was the "family room" where I had my office.

 It was only when we got back from the trip, having found the house we live in now, that it all became clear. We called in some real estate agents to help us figure out if it was realistic to think about moving. It turned out that our house, emptied out and more or less "staged" by the realtors, sold so fast that our heads were spinning. And then the buyers gave us just 30 days to clear out. We did it.

We had a sort of semi-obstructed view of San Francisco Bay from the living room windows.

Those people have now been living in "our" house for nearly ten years, and we've been living here. It's hard to believe ten years have gone by so fast. Sometimes I think I might wake up and realize this has all been a dream. I'll have to go down to the garage, back the VW out onto Congo Street, and drive for an hour or two (or even three) to an office in Silicon Valley. And do it over and over again, day after day, year after year...

Please don't wake me up.

19 comments:

  1. Absolutely!! The thought of my daily commute from Suffolk into London still gives me the shivers!

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  2. Beautiful place, I must say :) I love seeing real estate photos, and your place looked wonderful. So spacious! But-- you have a great place, now, and it's in France, and you have a huge garden, and no commuting.... and a bread lady. What more could you ask? ")

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  3. It's (was) a lovely house ... but your home in the vineyard is so much nicer. And life in general is so much better. Enjoy it ...and go on living like 'God in France' - that's a Flemish expression (Leven als God in Frankrijk), meaning 'Heaven on earth. How I envy you ;)

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  4. I love San Francisco and your former place looks beautiful but I think the one you are in now is home.

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  5. You and Walt are where you belong.

    It's probably best not to look at the asking price for your old house!

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  6. You and Walt are where you belong.

    It's probably best not to look at the asking price for your old house!

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  7. Ken

    I always marvel at the pictures of your former kitchen. Nicely designed for optimal use .

    Like Judith said, the bread lady and the butcher come to you now and you don't have to go far for your daily walks - wineries just in your back yard instead of going north to Napa or Sonoma.

    You and Walt are lucky for the opportunities to experience both -SFCal and the Touraine :-)

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  8. I have nominated your blog for a Meme, please check out my post
    http://mr-tomato-king.blogspot.fr/2013/01/2013-meme-time.html
    Regards Steve

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  9. What a stunning view you had! A much gentler outlook now. Long may you enjoy it! Pauline

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  10. I think I'd have been interested in your house. Great space and views.

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  11. Your old home looks very similar to a house I lived in for 3 months during 1979 - same street incline with the garage underneath. What was weird is that I have a photo from the back window of a very similar scene out over the bay. I may do a post on our stay in SF.

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  12. Your last sentence answered one of my questions. You've never told us what you did in Silly-cone valley.

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  13. You're living a dream, no question about it. Waking up won't change a thing.

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  14. Starman, I was an editor, writer, and (mostly) a people manager. I didn't do much exciting work but I worked with a lot of talented and interesting people. My favorite job was at Claris, the Apple software subsidiary, where I worked for six years.

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  15. Your house was great, boys ;-) !

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  16. hi mary07, oui, on etait bien la-bas, mais ici ca va aussi... Bises

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  17. And did you get "sticker shock" at how the price has gone up (or is that a peculiarly British obsession)? I still can't quite get over how the old house my parents rented, which was so full of Victorian inconveniences and jerry-building problems that my father refused to buy it as overpriced in the values of the early 1950s, sold a couple of years ago for - well - a price I don't know how anyone short of Onassis could afford.

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