Build it and they will come. And build it we have. Our home is built for celebration – designed with hosting in mind. And we’ve hosted since we first had a house on the other side of town. Thanksgiving. New Year’s Eve celebrations. Super Bowl parties. Pool parties. Anniversary celebrations. Birthday parties. End-of-season sports parties. And just plain parties.
It starts with intent. We built our current house twenty years ago knowing what worked and didn’t work from hosting Thanksgiving in our previous house. Wide open floor plan is desirable, or as close as you can compromise on that with architectural and daily living considerations. A wet bar was added in year 18. Overdue I’d say. And of course a bathroom on the first floor close but not too close to the action is required.
The deck came first. Expanded in 2004 to provide more outdoor living space. Pergola above for some level of shade and aesthetics. Rebuilt in 2018 when the carpenter ants laid the pergola to waste. Some lessons learned, some ignored on that. I’m just not a fan of pressure treated wood.
Next came the brick patio. Father’s Day 2005 – very hot, miserable day and I’m spreading crushed stone as a base for the brick that would come later. The brick patio and curved walkway remains a favorite feature and serves to bridge the entire backyard when entertaining, gardening, or really anything we do in the backyard. If I’d replace a hundred other things I’ve done over the last twenty years, I wouldn’t change that.
Next came the pool and a poured stamped concrete deck. I’ve come to appreciate it and resent it in waves of emotional ebbs and flows over the years. But on the whole it’s been a nice addition to the yard. When people tell you a pool is a money pit, they aren’t kidding. But it’s also an nice way to pull your kids back in a bit when they’re younger, a nice reason to have a social gathering as they get older, and a nice way to spend a hot summer day in general. As long as you remember the level of work it requires year-after-year, for three out of four seasons.
The garden filled in the blanks. It’s filled in my personal blanks for years, but it serves to soften the hardscape, brighten the landscape, spark conversation, and otherwise beautify the backyard. The lawn is large enough, but not too large. The woods snugs in just enough to provide shaded areas on hot days, and screens the houses beyond. The woods on the whole have been a good neighbor, even if the pool doesn’t get along with them all that well.
So today we host another party. This theme is a bon voyage party. The day started with rain and storms threaten to intrude again later in the day. No matter; rain changes the equation but we’ve been here before. Make the most of what the day brings you and don’t wish for things you can’t control. So I’ve done what I can to bring in cushions, put up pop-up tents, weed the garden and spruce things up a bit.
As with every party this one will go too fast, and become one more memory in a long string of great days spent living here. But so goes life. Build the life you want, pull in those who brighten your days on this earth and don’t invite those who ruin the party. A party is more than a Great playlist, a cooler of ice and beer. Ultimately you can’t have a party without great people in your life. And if we’ve been lucky at all, it’s in finding the right people to bring sparkle and brightness to our lives. So let’s celebrate! And afterwards clean things up and reset for another day.