Friday, June 25, 2010

Five Places I Would Go if I Won the Lottery

Today's topic is a variation on one suggested by my friend Jen Lechner, in a conversation we had yesterday. She was on her way to one of my favorite parts of the country, and I said that my retirement fantasy is to have a house there. "You should write a post about five places you would live if you won the lottery," she said.

The thing is, I don't want to own multiple homes. Friends of mine do — in fact, a couple of my friends own three houses — and as poor as Maine is, it's not at all unusual for people to own a "camp" as well as their primary residence. (Note to non-Mainers: a "camp" is not a campsite, but a non-winterized summer home of any kind. They can be anything from a mobile home to a finished house. They often run off the grid, with septic tanks and wells and generators, but in some of the more popular vacation areas, the only difference between a camp and a regular house is that people don't live there in winter. A "cottage" is a fancy summer house, the kind the Rockefellers have on Mount Desert Island.)

I don't really want to own a house at all, but I would like to be able to go somewhere on a whim and stay as long as I want. I suppose the easiest way to do that, if you have a lot of money, is to own the place.

On this June Friday, where would you go if money were no object? Leave your dream destinations in the comments section.

1. New Bern, North Carolina. Say "NEWburn," as if it were one word. I first drove through New Bern more than 20 years ago, and was enchanted. It was North Carolina's colonial capital, is the second-oldest town in the state, and claims to be the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. It sits at the junction of the Trent and Neuse rivers. The nearest big city is Wilmington, almost 100 miles away. My favorite retirement fantasy is of buying a big yellow house (why yellow, I don't know, but yellow) with a wraparound porch, and spending my 70s and 80s as the hostess of a continuous house party, with my friends and family coming and going at will, hanging out and playing board games and telling embarrassing stories about each other.

2. Hallowell, Maine. Of course. Hallowell rather than Gardiner, only to reduce the need to drive; Hallowell is five miles up the river. Most visitors to Maine stick to the coast, or to the western lakes, and never discover this jewel at the edge of the state capital. Downtown Hallowell is a four-block stretch packed with restaurants, shops, and an excellent art gallery. You can hear live music in Hallowell at least five nights a week, even in winter. It is fun and funky and so eccentric that it deserves its own TV show. Maybe I'll write a pilot. If I won the lottery, I would start an art-house movie theater in Hallowell, or possibly in the vacant railroad depot in Gardiner.

3. Vienna, Austria. I spent one magical weekend in Vienna with my friends the Schulzes, much too long ago, and have longed to go back ever since. I didn't see a fraction of the city, and I need to see more. I'd like to spend an extended period of time there, enough to feel fluent in German (even if my accent makes me sound mentally disabled, which certain people have told me).

4. Charleston, South Carolina. My mother's family comes from Charleston, and when I was a child, my grandparents retired to a house on Meeting Street, two blocks from the Battery. It has always been a magic place to me.

5. Brooklyn Heights, NY. Manhattan's too crowded and too self-conscious; Brooklyn Heights is a neighborhood. I loved the time I spent in Brooklyn Heights, and would gladly go back if I had the means or a reason to do so.


Claire said...

I want to go to Barcelona. I would nap on the beach and only wake up for sangria and roast pork. Maybe next fall.

AnswerGirl said...

I would very much like to go to Spain — Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and the Camino de Santiago de Campostela. I'd go there before France or Italy, though I would like to see them too.

Anonymous said...

And please plan to host a big family reunion in Charlston. Some of the best memories I have are of that house on Meeting Street, the Battery, Isle of Palms Beach houses and learning to crab from Rita.-Kathleen

AnswerGirl said...

First I have to buy the lottery ticket . . .

Karen Olson said...

I spent a week in Spain several years ago: Madrid, Granada, the Costa del Sol. Wonderful!

We want our next trip to be to Vienna.

Thomas at My Porch said...

I play out these little fantasies in my head all the time. But since we finally (finally) bought a house, I have a hard time fantasizing about living somewhere else. Even with today's seemingly 99% humidity. Nice to be in the present for once.

sarirose said...

I would love to live in Coronado but I would have to win a few lotteries.
Claire, the pitcher of sangria in Barcelona is something that gives me wonderful fond memories.