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Recap: Eric and Jan are looking for a place to live in Brandywine Canyon.

(Have you read the previous sections? No? What are you waiting for? Read them first!)

Part 5 - “Shangri-La”

We drove along in silence for awhile. Neither of us wanted to say anything that might break the spell.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Jan finally asked.

“I’m just following the directions he gave me,” I answered.

We were on our way to look at the apartment that belonged to the odd Mr. S_______. It sounded like a real find--if it actually existed. For all we knew, Mr. S_______ and his wife were just going to have us to tea, murder us, and hide our bodies in their garden shed.

We were driving along Brandywine Canyon Blvd., and I reached the intersection he had indicated. I turned the car onto the narrow, twisting side road and headed up into the hills.

We drove up and up and up. The road was narrow and steep, with blind curve following blind curve. My palms were sweating and my shoulders ached from hunching over anxiously as I drove the unfamiliar road.

On either side of the car, the steep hillside would occasionally disappear, to be replaced by spectacular but vertigo-inducing views of the canyon. I kept my eyes on the road, trying to ignore Jan’s “oohs” and “ahhs” and “look outs!”

We drove up and up and up and up and twisted around and around and up and up and up for what seemed like twenty minutes, until we finally reached a stop sign which meant we were halfway there.

I remembered what Mr. S____ had told me on the phone earlier. From the stop sign, he said, “drive on about fifty yards and stop, and look straight ahead at the top of the hill. You’ll be able to see our place.”

I did as he instructed and drove on about fifty yards before I stopped the car. Jan and I both looked up--and our jaws dropped.

Above the trees, jutting out from the side of the hill, we saw a magnificent wood and glass structure with a commanding view of the canyon. From where we were it appeared tiny--but I knew that was because it was so high up. The view from up there must be incredible, I thought, incredulous.

“Oh that can’t be it,” Jan said finally. “There’s no way.”

“That’s it,” I said. “That must be it. It’s right where he said it would be.”

Jan became very quiet--which is very unusual for her--and I continued driving.

The road continued up and up and up and twisted around and around and around for what seemed like another ten or fifteen minutes. At one point it seemed as if we were driving straight up the side of the mountain--I found myself gripping the steering wheel, afraid that I might tumble backwards out of the driver's seat.

The road finally levelled out, and at last we came to the side street the house was on. I was shaking and sweating, but I made the turn, and soon came to the cul de sac at the end of the short street. Mr. S______’s house was directly in front of us. He must have been watching for us because he bounded out as I parked the car.

“Did you have any trouble finding it?” he asked, walking briskly toward us.

“No,” I said, twitching slightly as I got out of the car, my legs cramped with tension, “none at all.”

“Good, good,” he said, “come in, come in.”

He ushered us into his house and invited us to have a seat in the living room, which featured a wall of glass--a window that stretched from floor to impossibly-high ceiling--overlooking the canyon. Jan and I were overwhelmed--it was possibly the most beautiful view either of us had ever seen. The sky was deep blue, the trees and hillside rich shades of green, and the rolling canyon unfolded in undulating waves as far as we could see, with the final ridge line silhouetted in the distance.

It was all Jan had ever wanted, and all I had ever wanted to give her.

Mr. S_______ introduced us to his wife, Dee, a handsome woman with white-blond hair. “Would you like some tea?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” I said, and Jan just shook her head. We couldn’t get over the view. I could see Jan had tears in her eyes.

We chatted a bit. I explained why we were looking for a place, and what brought us to Brandywine Canyon. Mr. S______ explained a little bit more about their situation, why their current tenant was leaving (to be closer to his work), and the kind of tenant they were hoping to get (someone reliable, who would stay for awhile). He also mentioned that they had never rented to a couple before, that they weren’t sure the apartment was big enough for two people, but that they would be willing to try it if we were.

As we spoke, I glanced around the house. It was huge, with an open floor plan that revealed room after room--a large loft above, a study nearby, a large dining area, an impressive kitchen. It was a beautiful home. Primitive tribal artifacts adorned the walls of the living room (we would later learn that Dee grew up in Africa, and most of these objects were from her family home there) and comfortable furnishings completed the place. But the most impressive thing about the house (aside from the view), was the beautiful craftsmanship of its construction. I’m not an architect or a builder, but I can recognize when something is well made. Unlike so many of the apartments we had looked at in town, this house was obviously built with love and care.

“This started off as a small house, with only two rooms,” Mr. S_____ said. “And it just grew and grew and grew.”

Jan and I both told him how amazed we were by the place.

“Well,” he said, smiling, “why don’t we go look at your apartment?”

Our apartment?

Next time: "Where Do We Sign?"


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