4/7/14, New Chapters (2)
I hope that all is well with you. Every book must have them, and every life: new chapters. And that’s never been my strong suit. I love the old and familiar, favorite restaurants, favorite places, favorite people, those we know well. I get attached to houses; I even keep my cars forever. New is exciting, but old and familiar feels safe and warm.
My first husband was French, but had an American grandfather, and we came to San Francisco when we were engaged. I was seventeen, ridiculously young, and the grandfather was a remarkable person, who lived to be 103. During our visit to San Francisco, I discovered a remarkable beach that I thought was spectacular. Years later, long after I had moved to San Francisco and we were divorced, I rented a house there for a few weeks. It was a beautiful long stretch of beach, it wasn’t fashionable, it was rugged and simple, natural and peaceful, and I loved it. I remarried, to a man who loved the country, and I spent 20 years spending weekends and summers in the Napa Valley, and it was lovely….but it wasn’t the beach. And I could never ‘sell’ my beloved beach to my husband, who preferred Napa, and the country life there. By then ‘my beach’ had become a bit more fashionable, though not very, and it still had a simple natural feel to it. And finally, divorced and alone again, I looked at some houses at the beach, and my longtime dream came true. I bought a house at the beach I loved. I fell in love with it instantly, and called the house “Coup de Coeur”, which means love at first sight in French. And I spent some wonderful years there, entertained friends, my kids were still at home, and in middle school and high school. They wanted to be in the city with their friends, and I never got to spend a summer at the beach house, but I went there a lot. It was where I went to find peace, or entertain friends, or spend time with my children. It was a happy place and a happy house. I loved it.
Fast forward the film again. The kids have grown up, half of them moved to other cities for their work, and seldom come home because they have jobs and lives somewhere else. And the peaceful beach is too peaceful for them. And 10 years ago, I went back to France, and live there half the year. When I come back to San Francisco, I want to spend time with my kids, who don’t want to go to the beach, understandably. And I’m too busy when I’m home. So the beach house stands empty now, and makes no sense. When I go there, I am still in awe of how beautiful the beach is. The area is more polished now, the real estate more expensive, and it’s as lovely as when I first saw it, and the house cuter than ever, but we just never go there anymore. And owning a house you never go to makes no sense, economically, practically, even emotionally. And I realized recently that it was time to end the chapter, and for someone else to enjoy the house I once fell in love with, but never go to anymore. In recent years, we’ve gone there for a few weekends a year, which makes no sense. So I decided to put the house on the market and sell it.
I only made the decision a few weeks ago. It made perfect sense, and still does. So I dove in, called realtors, and decided to get the house ready to sell, and clear it of our things. I’ve owned the house for 13 years, and in a perfect world, I would love to keep it as a little gem, a wonderful escape to retreat to when I need peace. (But that’s a high price to pay for peace. I can rent a house there for a few weekends a year). In reality, I wont miss it, but I’ll miss the idea of it. Buying a house there was the fulfillment of a dream. It was my happy place. But now I have a life in Paris, and my children are grown up. So I just spent the week at the beach house, emptying closets, reading old notes, finding forgotten treasures, smiling at old photographs, and boxing things up to send to the children, or bring home, and in some cases just throwing things away. It’s the right thing to do, but the right things are not always easy. As much as missing my beach retreat, it marks the passage of time, and reminds one that life has changed and moved on, and what makes sense at one time in our life, no longer makes sense a dozen years later. I am grateful that I was able to have that house, and the fun times we had there. When I had my art gallery, I used to invite all my artists and their partners out for a beach day once a year, and we had a ball.
I finished getting the house ready to sell today, and it was bittersweet. It looked wonderful when I left it, and it may not sell for a while, so we’ll get to enjoy it a few more times. But I have put it out there, for someone else to fall in love with it at first sight. To me, houses are like romance, you can walk into 50 houses, and they do nothing for you, and then you walk into The One, the right one for you, and you know it instantly. I hope that happens to someone when they see my beach house, it’s time to pass the baton to someone else, who will enjoy it, and spend happy times there, and watch their children grow up there. And then it will be someone else’s turn. It would be greedy and foolish to hang onto a house I no longer use, so I am setting it free, to be loved and enjoyed by others who will spend more time there, and have as much fun there as I once did. The chapter of my life at that beach is over. I had the dream, and now it’s time for the chapter to end. Paris is where I go for fun now, and to relax, and spend time with friends, and with my children when they visit me. I will miss the idea of the beach house, more than the reality.
So I spent the week packing boxes, and tucking away memories. The chapter ends. And a new one begins. The house isn’t sold yet, and will be put on the market in the next few weeks. And the new chapter will be full of surprises, and whatever life has in store. I’m grateful for the 13 years I had there. And now a new chapter will begin.
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I’m sad that you’re selling your beach house. From your novels Going Home, Summer’s End, and Safe Harbor, I got the ideal of a little cottage at the beach (in particular Ben’s house and lifestyle in Carmel in Summer’s End). I hope that, even though your beach chapter has ended, you enjoy all the chapters that are yet to come.
And, nothing to stop you from buying another Beach house in the future.
Maybe you’ll find a man friend who loves the beach as much as you do and there will be a 3rd chapter. Also, your dogs will have a ball there-until then……..
Just sold the home I lived in 50 years-Not easy. Guess life goes on–But know how it feels to leave. Got your CD this week and the music is terrific-use it in my car with a bose system and it is wonderful.
I was sad to hear about your beach house. I would love to rent it. I am trying to retire from nursing and as it stands now I can afford about $500.00 a month. I know this sounds crazy but I thought I would ask. I grew up on a 900 acre dairy ranch, near the ocean, in northern California, by the Oregon border.I miss the sound of the ocean. I also have an idea for a book that has been perculating for 50 years. Love to hear from you.
“Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing…are the same” – The Fray
I am sorry that you finally sold your beach house. I also had a love for beach houses though I do not have enough money to buy one now. Maybe one day I will walk into a beach house that is perfect for me. Since I live in South Carolina and we can visit the beach within an hour, I always love travelling to the beach and looking at beach houses.The beach is a wonderful place to visit for the day and unwind.
Hi mss.daniell steel my name is Janet and I from Iran I want to thank u because u change my life I read most of your books and as usuall those are perfect and I love the way u write the books seriously it’s awesome
I was ordinary girl but now I m not the old girl I was and I love new myself
I just read your power play and if u let me to translate it for my people I’ll do it just plz let me know again I love u so much
Thank you, Danielle.
I learned from you today as I too love “Home” the most and may find that is time to move on.
I read your book “The House” recently and loved it!
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors (Mary Baker Eddy):
“Home is a power you take with you.”
“Home is the dearest spot on earth and should be the center not the boundary of the affections.”
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.
I love your perfume, “Danielle”!!! Have been wearing it since it came out. I can not find it anywhere! I have gotten compliments on it from the beginning. Where can I buy it? I would greatly appreciate your help. Have to have more “Danielle”.
I am also an animal lover, especially dogs. “Pure Joy”, was wonderful. Made me laugh and made me cry!
Like you, I don’t particularly like change, I like the old familiar things. Also like you I love dogs. My little babies are Yorkies. Sadly, my Sophie is 14 and has some renal problems.. My husband is on social security.and I’m on disability.. We have spent hundreds if dollars at the vet, so much that I have not refilled my own medications. The vet keeps wanting to do more tests. When do you say I can’t do more? How do you deal with guilt? I am devastated. I live my baby. I just don’t know what to do. I know you will understand . Thanks for listening.
like you I don’t like change I think my life will be going though some changes soon. I’m not really happy about it but I guess that’s life. I visited San Francisco in 2003 and think about it often your books keep that memory alive for me. as the saying goes I left my heart in San Francisco I think I left a piece of my heart there. I’ve been an reading your novels for years since 2000 I stopped waiting for the paper back and buy the hard cover as soon as they come out I have missed a couple lately but I have almost every book you have written while waiting for the new books to come out I reread the others I have. I have read silent honor several times there is just something about that book that makes it one of my favorite. hope you continue to write for many more years. Vera Vaughn Paris, Ill.