Last Sunday, Kirk and I stumbled upon a house for rent that pulled us into its adorable orbit, and we're hoping it's ours for the taking.
We happened to be driving around, as we like to do at least a few times a week, keeping up good conversation and taking in the surrounding beauty. Winter Park has a number of neighborhoods that are just plain charming, either because the homes are quaint or because the lakes -- sometimes edging both sides of the street! -- shine with a peaceful and glassy beauty.
This particular day, there was a terrific summer storm going. The rain pelted our car like big baseballs, and we could barely see through the windshield. We pulled over once it started and rolled down our windows, taking in the smell of wet air and letting the big drops of water hit our arms and shoulders.
After the storm ended, we kept driving around the town. We were cruising through the usual neighborhoods when Kirk decided to take a random turn on impulse. We headed into a neighborhood we rarely visit, and soon we had turned onto a street I'd never seen before in my life. It was beautiful, and soon a small red sign came into view. It read, "For Rent."
This was no ordinary sign. It sat on the small front yard of the cutest cottage you've ever seen in your life. It's kinda tiny, with adorable casement windows that line the entire front. A tiny brick driveway can fit one car. Two oldish camphor trees and a magnolia tree stand in the front yard, with a burgeoning gardenia tree on the left side of the house that sweetly and persistenly scents the air. The house is white, with a black front door. It sits on a stubbly brick street.
"Shall I call?" Kirk asked, with his phone already out and his fingers doing the dialing. He's never responded this way to a home before -- already calling the owners up! -- but there he was, first introducing himself to the wife and then speaking freely with the husband. It turns out they own the home next door, and both homes are on the historic homes register for Winter Park. It's called the Edison Cottage, named after (you guessed it) Thomas Edison, who owned both homes at one time.
Kirk and Sam carried on a friendly conversation for a while about the neighborhood (Kirk used to live around the corner) and their shared experiences owning and renting properties. We learned that they were out of town this week but would be back in town on Friday, at which point we were invited to call for an appointment to see the house. Needless to say, it was going to be a long week requiring patience!
When Kirk hung up the phone, we stared at each other a moment and then looked at the house. Almost simultaneously, we turned back toward each other and suggested taking a closer look. We parked the car in the driveway and got out to stroll the perimeter. We tried to peek through the windows, but, unfortunately, the drapes kept us from any sneak-peeking! After a short walk around the front and right side of the house, we put our hands on the front doorposts and said a quick prayer, releasing it into God's hands.
Obviously, we drove by the house numerous times this week, each time voicing how strange this experience feels. We weren't looking for a new place to live at all, but suddenly it seemed like the most obvious next step for us: with our first anniversary just a few weeks away, the time seems right to put down roots in Winter Park and settle into a real home together. (We've been living in a converted garage this past year that's hip and trendy . . . but definitely small!) I really desire the experience of stepping into a potential home with Kirk, just to see how it feels. I desire to live in a modest house-sized space we can call our own. I desire to hunt for the perfect furnishings to fill that house. It just feels like the right time to start sharing these kind of experiences with Kirk, and he voiced his desire for the same.
So we wondered all week whether this is God's next gift to us or simply a foreshadowing of some gift he's preparing for us to receive sometime in the future.
It's probably needless to say that we called them up first thing this morning. We felt sure others would be lined up to do the same, and we wanted to ensure they knew our serious interest. We left a message and waited (as patiently as we could!) to hear back from them. Later, in the early evening, we tried again on a whim and were surprised when Sam picked up the phone. He invited us over right then, so what did we do? We scooted on down.
Of course, the house is darling. It's exactly what we would have hoped. Somehow, I just knew
it would have hardwood floors . . . and it did. Somehow I just knew the front room would carry the entire length of the house . . . and it did. Somehow both of us knew it would feel like an expansive creative space . . . and it does.
It was loaded with many more surprises. For instance, Thomas Edison's daughter-in-law stayed there often, using it as her artist studio. She painted a number of cupboard faces in the main front room, which the owners have preserved with pride. There are built-in bookshelves in the front room. There's a stained-glass window in the back bedroom. There's also an antique desk, a bed, and an unusual door with a glass window leading down into that bedroom, too. It even comes with a washer and dryer! (What a relief, since we've been paying for wash-and-fold service this entire past year.)
The final verdict is that we love the house. We like the owners, and they seemed to like us, too -- they spent about an hour and a half with us tonight, even inviting us into their home to fill out the application and to show us some great historical artifacts about their house and Winter Park. At this point, their appointment schedule is booked through the weekend, as they received "stacks of calls" this week to see the house.
We should have an answer by Monday or Tuesday, though, and we suppose now all we can do is wait. We'd appreciate your joining us in prayer!