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The Upstate House
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The Upstate House

Considering what we’d been through together , and how we had chosen to stay in each others’ lives through the thick and the thin of it all , it didn’t seem strange to me at all that when Paul decided to buy this house on his own in the winter of 1995 – almost a full decade after we were no longer married – that he’d want my approval before signing on the dotted line. I believe that in Paul’s mind – and certainly in mine – this house stood a good chance of being the one we’d grow old in together, no matter who we were dating into our eighties and nineties , no matter who else we were living with or married to along the way.
The Upstate House – as we called it over the years – would be uniquely ours. Even though it was Paul who was buying it with money left him by his recently deceased father.

Even though divorced a full decade, I was with Paul when he signed on the dotted line for what we began to call the Hopewell House, since it was located between the small towns of Cold Spring and Hopewell Junction, across the Hudson from West Point.
Together, we shopped for the first round of furniture to begin filling the cavernous living room with lots of comfortable places to relax. At Pottery Barn, we bought soft sofas, charming wicker armchairs, floor and table lamps, coffee tables, end tables, rugs. Long linen curtains from Ikea (all those windows to cover, from floor to ceiling) with floaty white liners, electric shades for the wall of window and the skylights – yes, light poured in from the ceiling as well! – so that all we had to do was push a button and the living room could be comfortably darkened or made to feel more secure and private at night, when I always felt like wild animals were staring at me from the surrounding woods. (in truth, the most dangerous animals on the property were herds of white tailed deer that were more a danger to the gardens than to us, and gobbling families of wild turkeys.) We also bought candlesticks and boxes and boxes of candles, in colors for every season.
We bought and bought and bought! It felt so good to spend Paul’s money again.
The kitchen of our Upstate House was large and interesting.
It was originally designed for the builders of the house – a 6’3” husband and a 5’4” wife, so there were cabinets, food prep areas, sinks, storage spaces at every and all heights. Whimsical, you might say. But also lots of fun, as every possible problem had been considered and solved. Paul and I began to talk about all the people we’d be inviting to large dinner parties. We bought a long wooden table and enough chairs to seat twelve guests, snuggling the entire arrangement into the long end of the kitchen by windows overlooking the large back meadow. There was also a smaller formal dining room between the kitchen and the living room, so we bought a table for that space as well, with only six chairs.
But the real selling point of the house was an enormous, open studio above the garage. A huge room with shiny hardwood floors, windows again floor to ceiling and enough space to do anything we could possibly envision doing: painting (the light was perfect for art of all sorts and Paul had begun to study at the Arts Students League in Manhattan), exercising (we set up a TV for instructional videos), dancing (I envisioned old fashioned sock hops, where we’d ask our guests to leave their shoes at the door), meetings for all sorts of projects we could gestate and develop there, meditation practice, just laying around reading, enjoyinthe luxury of pure space.
I envisioned teaching acting workshops there . And writing.
The house was made for dreaming. And once again, Paul and I were sharing a new adventure. As friends. Good friends.
I had my own bedroom at the end of the long upstairs hallway, and Paul took the master bedroom, with its own sitting room , walk-in closets and private bath, at the other end of the house. Though sometimes we would watch movies together in his suite of rooms, nibbling popcorn, snuggling with our books and computers, as in the city, we went our separate ways at the end of the day.
All of this – as well as house fix-ups and establishing the acres of gardens together – was only in the first six months, though.

It was indeed a place where anything could happen. And so, over the next ten years of sharing the Upstate House, whether we liked it or not, for better or for worse, everything did.

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