Dream houses

Some people wait their entire lives to find their dream home. I’ve already lived in several.

At our first assignment in Texas, my husband and I lived in our first real house. It was my dream home because it had a fireplace. We didn’t have much furniture to put in it. And we used a rotary push mower, a gift from my grandfather, until we could afford a gas-powered lawn mower to cut the grass. It had a big backyard, a rectangle of concrete for a patio and even a grapevine.

Our first on-base home, at Sheppard AFB, Tex., was my dream home because it had hardwood floors and big windows. We brought home our first baby to that dream house.

Our second baby came home to a dream house on a tropical island, complete with a hibiscus bush and a hammock between two palm trees. Our house on Andersen Air Base, Guam, wasn’t much to look at. With concrete walls, flat roof and brown plywood shutters, it was more like a bunker, but it survived five typhoons and an earthquake and was less than 10 minutes from the beach.

Our house on Luke AFB, Ariz., was the house of my dreams mostly because it was – available. After spending five months on the housing list in a sparsely furnished apartment with two small children, I could easily love the outdated cabinets, tiny closets and oddly paneled ceiling. By the time we left that dream house – with baby number three – we were bursting at its three-bedroom seams.

So naturally, our next dream house in Japan was even smaller. It had a closet under the stairs and, although we could have used the storage space, it got better use as a secret hideout, playhouse or pirate cave on rainy days. Outside our windows, we had cherry blossoms in the spring and fiery red maple leaves in the fall.

Our dream home in Valdosta, Ga., was a family favorite. It had a fireplace, a second story, plenty of space inside and nearby woods and ponds outside. Dad and the kids built a tree house and picked blackberries for Mom to bake homemade cobblers. Quiet streets and lots of open spaces provided our children room for adventure and scope for the imagination.

At Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., our dream home had a view of the ocean and Catalina Island on a clear day from the upstairs windows if you stood in just the right spot. The daily walk to the elementary school was a flower-lined sidewalk with a full view of the Pacific. With beautiful weather almost every day, we to enjoyed our back patio and pergola. No fireplace, also no air conditioning, but we never needed either one.

Our dream home at Ramstein, Germany, had three floors, a spiral staircase, a balcony, and did I mention, it was in Germany? Dream location, indeed, and the last of our dream homes to house all our children year-round. It was walking distance down cobblestone streets to favorite restaurants, bakery and coffee shops.

 Of all of these dream homes, our current one in Virginia has the most space, which we most enjoy when it’s full of our family and friends.

I don’t know how many more dream homes we’ll have. Someday we hope to have one that is truly ours and will be ours for a long time. When choosing it, I don’t know that I’ll be looking for the “must haves” the HGTV hosts rave about, like granite countertops, recessed lighting or a rain shower.

My “must haves” are a kitchen to cook for family and friends. A dining room big enough to hold them all. A sidewalk that leads into town. A sofa by the fireplace would be nice, and plenty of shelves for the books we like to read. Wall space for pictures from all over. Bedrooms for the beds our children used to jump on and dream on. Maybe their children will jump and dream on them too.

When it’s time to look for that dream home, I know I’ll be looking for glimpses of the dreams from every home we’ve ever lived in.

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