Essay : A view with a room
Our place is a little tricky to rent. For starters, our washer and dryer are in the basement. So are a few brown bats. These days, there are people who don't like to go down to the cellar to do their laundry. We're a softer generation. Even fewer like to go down to a cellar with bats swooping through it at night. I mean they do keep the bugs down, but how do you explain that?
And then there are the ticks and the poison ivy. Should I tell a prospective renter to look out for these things? Will they be amused when I mention that my father-in-law christened the place "Griswold's Tick Ranch and Poison Ivy Farm" when he bought it in 1938 (just before the devastating hurricane)? I don't think so.
So I hope people look beyond the furniture (well-worn is a nice term) and the floors (a bit soft in places) to the view, which is spectacular. This is the kind of place that could only have been bought for a song 80 years ago when Lamberts Cove was considered the hinterland to down- Islanders. It was, and it's been in my husband's family ever since, which is why we have it and also why, being downwardly mobile, we need to rent it to stay in it.
This year we tried to find the middle ground when it came to renting. We wouldn't chase the biggest buck, despite the nearby beach and the water view, and we wouldn't have to replace the furniture and the floors. So I started with our friends and sent a general email.
I got lots of advice: use a realtor, charge more, charge less, stay home, but no prospective customers. Still the word was out there so I decided to just be patient and let the chips fall where they might, and the right thing would happen - you know the thinking. Then the phone rang.
" Hi Laura, it's Jamie." I didn't recognize the voice. I didn't think it was my nephew Jamie.
"I hear you may be renting your house."
"It's Jamie, Jamie Childs."
Oh my God. I was not prepared for this. Jamie was my first boyfriend and we had lived together for more than three years. I'd died for that voice once and now I didn't recognize it? Miracles happen.
The email had reached him. He wanted to come to the Island and fish and bring his son and his new girlfriend and her boys. The apple was falling pretty close to the tree after 30 years - plenty of time, but did I want him sleeping in my bed?
"Our place is beautiful but not fancy."
I remembered the bats and laughed. Jamie and I had studied bats together in college. We'd twice gone to Jamaica to collect bats for a research project. Perfect. He would think the bats were a plus. He'd gone on to be a scientist and worked at the Centers for Disease Control on the Ebola Virus. Now he was at Yale doing something along these lines.
"There are a few bats in the basement."
"Really! What kind?"
It might work. We agreed on a price and a time and I even got him to agree to look after our pets. I just had to clean everything and get used to inviting that old energy back into my life. It all felt a bit odd, but I didn't hesitate to cash his check when it came.
The time comes for him to arrive on Thursday. We arrange the final details. I haven't seen the bats lately and I'm worried they fell prey to whatever is killing bats all over New England. I decided not to mention it. I didn't want to disappoint him.
As we wrap up our conversation, Jamie asks me about ticks. Oh God, I thought, here we go. "Well, of course, we have them but they don't seem to be that bad this year. You just need to check yourself. It's not really a big deal."
"Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping for a big crop. I've invited some scientists down from Yale who want to collect ticks."
This may be a perfect match - we'll see.
West Tisbury resident Laura Wainwright is a frequent contributor to The Times.