Growing up, I just knew when I became an adult I’d have a weekend house. I thought this was the norm because my grandparents had a lake house in the town where we lived. It never occurred to me that my parents didn’t have a weekend house somewhere. I just assumed the lake house was everyone’s. My grandparents lived just outside New York City and had bought a cabin “in the country” in Northern New Jersey. I have great memories of that house growing up. Each year one of my cousins, whose father was in the Air Force, would come spend the summer. On weekends, all the other cousins that lived in the area would gather at the lake house for a weekend of fun and frivolity. Every Saturday night, our grandfather would take us down to the lake to go fishing; not that much fishing was actually done the crate of grandkids in tow, but the attempt was made and appreciated by his adoring minions.
After my grandmother died, my grandfather didn’t go up there anymore. Various other family members would go, but it wasn’t the same. It came time for my grandfather to sell the house right around the time I was getting married and the house was offered to me. My grandfather was willing to just deed it over to me, but instead of causing a total uproar within the family, my father came up with a fair price (much lower than market value, but enough for my grandfather’s needs) and my husband and I became the new owners, furniture and all. I decided on what I wanted to keep and let my family members plunder the rest. Unfortunately, the house was built as a summer house and in order to live in it year round, it needed quite a few renovations. So we gutted it and it became a cozy country home. Of course, the time came when we wanted to have a baby and the house was too small and it finally got sold to a stranger.
I never let go of the dream of the weekend place. My husband and I have always had decent jobs with decent salaries. When we decided to move from New Jersey to Virginia, we were able to maintain northern salaries on southern cost of living. This enabled us to pay off debt and create a very nice savings. Just last week, we took that nest egg and made a nice down-payment on a condo in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where we like to go to get away from the urban sprawl of Richmond where we live. Advantageous for me is the fact that the condo comes turnkey ready, once again, with furniture, appliances, utensils, pillows, even a vacuum.
This weekend is the condo’s maiden voyage. It’s not a cabin at a lake, but it’s on top of a mountain at a ski resort and there is a lake. It’s a different feel, but different is okay. Friends and family are lining up to stay. The cabin slept 12, but the condo only sleeps 4. My son’s childhood memories will have a different feel than the lake – instead of fishing and swimming, he’ll mostly be snowboarding and tubing, but with any luck, he’ll have his own fond memories of the weekend house.