By: Revanche

The castle on the hill

February 23, 2012

A jaunt

Driving through Los Gatos, the hilly, ridgey, close roads and tall trees parts of town, bursting with real fall colors last November, PiC and our friends and I got to admiring homes and the lands they sat on. Estates, practically, the big houses set back into the cliffs, with horse property, a barn and proper lands set round it.

Nothing at all like what we’d acclimated to near the city with our city streets and dirty little suburbs. No clean suburbs for us, you have to make a lot more before you can afford those. We roved by loads of homes, peering through the trees and vines. Good job it was broad daylight or we’d have looked awfully suspicious.

And then we drove past the castle. An honest to goodness castle thing, twenty rooms it must have had, another structure on the side of the property, a well-into-the-double-digit-millions price tag.

It tumbled me back, way back, to those wonder years, when the future was jostling full of sheer and opaque possibilities, unfettered by realism, untempered by failures.

I could remember when a $200,000 house might well have been a $3M house for all that I had any money and that meant I could dream of anything at all.

Anything at all ….

I dreamt of buying not one, but two houses. One for me, one for my parents. Right on the main boulevard of the town, whatever town I lived in, so I could use the walking trail I imagined would be there with my half a dozen well trained dogs.  Or ride my horse, the one that stabled in my back barn. I’d definitely have the best library with a sliding ladder ever.

My parents would be neighbors, of course, they’d never wanted to be far from me.  Well, Mom didn’t. If I had married and had children, she wanted to be Right There. They had to be downwind of the barn though, I didn’t want to hear any complaints about my critters. 🙂

I’d have two degrees, graduate and professional, and would be working and saving half that income; I’d be volunteering in my spare time, and setting up a charitable foundation, eventually.

Clearly, an unimaginative kid. A secure home base (note I bought two homes outright, I wasn’t dreaming of any mortgages), to take care of my family, to continue the volunteering I was already doing and be surrounded by pets and books. Basically I wanted to be a kid in adult form. Or something like that.

Twenty years later

I never dreamt I’d have spent this much time dinking around on the Internet when formulating Ye Grand Planne. Or any of the other things I ended up doing instead. But when I look at houses now, it’s a little less aspirationally now that I can attach a price tag of salary and hours to each thing.  (Mortgages, interest rates, take home pay, egads!)

I still want the 6 dogs, but will settle for three. I shouldn’t get a horse. But the library is absolutely still on the list. Sometimes, things make me happy.

One house. My dad wouldn’t want to own or live in a whole house alone even if I could afford it.

As for the degrees … As much as it feels like being a failure not to have three degrees in total, I’m not yet willing to pay for another degree that won’t pay for itself several times over or that isn’t paid for by an employer at this point in my career. Things may change but the career trajectory is doing well enough to focus on making substantial strides there rather than taking time off to go to school.

More travel to see interesting things, eat delicious things, talk to interesting people.
More quality time with the people I don’t see enough.
That charitable foundation, yes. And I still want to be a billionaire to make that work. Don’t care if it’s not strictly necessary. Want.
And the things I can’t have: perfect health. My family intact. So instead, peace. Better health. Happiness. Contentment. And yes, ambition.

:: Do you remember your old dreams? Do you know what happened to them? Have you replaced them with new ones or are you still making them come true?

11 Responses to “The castle on the hill”

  1. I dreamt of moving to NYC and becoming a writer, or living hobo-style in Big Sur, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, writing the next great american novel. Those dreams aren’t coming true, but that’s ok. Life changes.

  2. Ella says:

    It’s funny to think about it because I never really dreamt about owning things. I was more the idealist kid, dreaming of saving all the animals on the planet from whatever they should be saved from and that kind of thing 🙂

  3. Sense says:

    I love fake house shopping! Even online, it is a fun way to dream.

    As a kid, I just wanted money. Lots of it. Enough to swim in like Scrooge McDuck. and a yacht. As I grew older, things like libraries added themselves onto the list. A whole room dedicated to my books. And one of those green banker lamps… Vaguely, I wanted children and the whole nine. I always assumed it would just happen for me, because it happened to every adult I knew. I knew I’d go to college but I never imagined grad school. It was a surprise to me when I decided to try for it.

    Now, my dreams are much more realistic (thank God) and aligned with yours. Good health (giving me the energy to socialize, advance my career, and volunteer). Being able to take care of my family. Earning a good reputation in my field and amongst my peers. Improving myself, and learning as much as possible. Extensive travel. A dog instead of children. Someone to share my life with. Balance.

  4. eemusings says:

    I wanted to be famous. First as an author. Then a musician. Among other things (

    Now, really I just want the money and time to achieve the two things I really want in life – travel and buying a house.

  5. The Quest says:

    I dreamt of owning a big house on lots of land. As a little kid born in England, every time I saw the sunset I would think ‘California’ before I even really knew what California was! I indeed eventually ended up in California where I reside to this day, although the big house is long gone.

  6. I wanted to be upper middle class like one of my aunts. To not have to worry about money like my parents. To live in an inner suburb with yummy ethnic food shops. So far 2/3 there.

    My parents have finally gotten used to the idea that my sister no longer wants a graduate degree. She’s making money hand over fist without one and time off from that would just slow her down. The company she works for has a plan for her and that plan doesn’t involve her becoming a patent lawyer.

  7. Chantalle says:

    I dreamt of having properties in various cities all over the world…yeah, I was one of those big dreamers. Now…I realize that probably won’t happen and i’m fine with it. Not even into house shopping really.

    But a horse…a horse I will have! Once my life settles down a bit. And dogs…at least 2.

    Now i’m grateful for good health, amazing friends, and good times had by all. Funny how priorities shift as you get older and realize what’s truly worth it and what isn’t.

  8. What an interesting post! Nice piece of writing…

    It’s amazing how time strips away the desire (or the possibility) for all the detritus we think we’d like to have. The older I get, the less stuff I want to own and the less space I want to have to take care of. Not that I don’t want elbow room between me and the neighbors…just that I’d prefer not to have to mow that elbow room. 😉

    If you’d like to drive to Arizona with a trailer, I’ll be happy to give you the contents of a large library.

  9. SP says:

    I do not think I was very specific at all in my long term dreams, and certainly not about a home.

    The only thing I clearly remember wishing for was black-out curtains, like in hotels, so I could sleep in. This is not important to me anymore, since I don’t sleep in.

    I realized I’m still the same way. In 10 years I want kids (two?) and somewhere that we like living (probably own, but whatever makes sense) and an engaging job that let’s me have a personal life too. The rest is details.

  10. Shelley says:

    When I was really young I wanted to be a veterinarian, but as soon as I realised you had to sometimes hurt animals to help them get better, I changed my mind.

    I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed big dreams. A home, a husband, a job I liked. Then it was going to be a home in a good neighbourhood, a handsome husband and a job I was really good at.

    I never particularly wanted children until I hit 30 and then for several years I wanted a child so badly I didn’t think I’d ever be happy without one. But it is possible to accept that you can’t have every thing you want and to move on.

    Today I have three houses (two rented out) and a very nice, reasonably attractive husband and I’m done with work. That I live in England is something I never expected – I didn’t grow up expected to ever *see* England, never mind live here. I’d still like to have a dog..maybe two.. but we travel too much just now for that to be practical or kind. Maybe later.

    I think it’s important to have a goal, but also to be a bit flexible. Life might have other plans than the ones you make. Interesting post.

  11. Revanche says:

    @Kris: Oh, I did like the NYC move too, I think that came into play at some point for a bit.

    @Ella: That’s definite a good one.

    @Sense: It’s an interesting diversion!

    @eemusings: Yeah, that’d be nice. And you could come hang in my library!

    @The Quest: How funny, you ended up where you dreamt 🙂

    @nicoleandmaggie: Step by step…

    @Chantalle: You globetrotter you, I feel like a version of it could still happen for you though.

    @FaM: Yes, I definitely do not want to have to mow any amount of lawn. A few goats, perhaps for that mowing.

    @SP: I never was creative enough to think of blackout curtains but I do absolutely sleep in, though I love waking up naturally to sunlight anyway.

    @Shelley: I like that yours were so elegantly simple.

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