The Bay Bridge carried us to the East Bay, because we were hunting for a house to buy. The magnificent scenery surrounding the bridge escaped my awe, as I was driving. Not only that, John was back-seat-driving. He told me where to turn, what lane to get in, how fast to go, and he stream-lined his instruction with sarcasm. “No wonder he has high-blood pressure,” I thought. I felt sorry for him, but I felt sorrier for me.
In the middle of the bridge I’d had it. “John! Who’s driving?”
“Then leave me alone and let me drive.”
We drove in silence for a while, the space between us filled with ice, until he froze it some more. “I don’t see why we have to go so late. We should be looking at this house in full daylight.”
Incredulous I asked, “Don’t you ever listen to anything I say? She’s already got a buyer, but his offer might fall through this week, and before he can put together another financial package our offer could go through.”
“You haven’t seen this place; you don’t know if you like it, so why are you dragging me to something you haven’t seen?”
With as much force as I could muster, I puffed all the air out of my lungs, “Because I’ve looked at everything else. There’s nothing out there, but I like the location of this one and I like the school district.” Then I added something he didn’t already know. “Besides last night I had a dream.” I smiled, my excitement returning.
“There was this two-story house. Really different. Downstairs were three bedrooms, each opening onto the pool. The living areas were upstairs. This seemed weird. Who wants to live in an upside down house? But when I talked to the real estate agent today, that was exactly how she described this house.”
John snorted. “I don’t see why I’m going. Finding the house is your job.”
When we drove up, he said, “That is the ugliest house I’ve ever seen.”
“I know,” I admitted, my excitement dropping. “I’ve driven past it four times and never even wanted to go inside.” We sat and stared. It looked like a squat ranch-style, squared with the street, the only attractive feature being the two doors, centered, and opening grandly. The clawed front lawn made one think junk-yard dogs lived there. Scruffy bushes hunched under the plate glass windows framing the recessed front doors. Burned and blistered paint curled on the board and battens, a failed designer trick to conceal the pressed wood material the builder used. It took a while to process the damage.
Our appointment being at eight, we ventured out and rang the bell, expecting to be disappointed. But when we entered those double doors, my breath was taken away. The ugly house, totally unnoticed from the front, spread before me in an exaggerated V shape. A parquet floor shone in the foyer abutting a massive stone fireplace, which opened on both sides. The living room, angled to my right, the dining room, angled to my left, and the humongous family room on the other side, all partook of the fireplace.
Unseen from the front the house perched on a little hillside. Gazing through the plate glass windows, which filled the far wall of the family room, in the faded light of the gloaming, I saw decking which seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. An ancient oak tree thrust from a hole cut in the middle of the redwood planks. The decking formed a U-shape overlooking the swimming pool located on the first floor level, and yes, three downstairs bedrooms opened onto the pool. The master bedroom and the den finished the upstairs.
“You’ll never get it.” John whispered.
“Do you like it?” I whispered back.
“Yeah. But you’ll never get it.”
Ironically, two gay men had put a deposit on the house. The next day I submitted a back-up offer, not really hoping to actualize a sale, just dreaming. But their deposit fell through and that week we became the owners of the ugliest house facing the cul-de-sac. The neighbors told us later that they prayed fervently against having homosexuals next door. Still riding my euphoria in having achieved the sale, I forgot that John was one, also, and that I had been a neighbor to the Lavender University.
And so, I had my dream house. Symbolically, illustrated by that house becoming mine instead of belonging to the gay couple, I believe God said to me, “Sin has its agenda, but I have Mine, and I will always come through for you.” My house became a gathering place, a house of prayer and ministering, a house of rejoicing, a house of learning about the Lord, and also a house of resigning myself to live with a husband who simply did not love me.