Since moving into our summer home in Charleston, we’ve entered into a fantasy life – but it’s not our fantasy. It’s a that of a successful bachelor in his early 30s. Let me explain…
When our original rental home fell through at the last minute, we were relieved to find an even better property: a fully-furnished high-end modern home in downtown Charleston overlooking the Ashley River delta with a beautiful pool to boot.
The owner, whom we’ve never met (let’s call him Nick), had to move to another city because of his job, and was looking for a long-term tenant. We were long-term enough and had the optical advantage of being a responsible family. We didn't even need to ship our car, Nick said, we could just pay a little extra to use his. All we had to do was bring our clothes, a car seat, and move on in.
Thus, we came to inhabit his life: driving Nick's luxury SUV, sipping sweet tea and vodka in Nick's Ralph Lauren crystal high ball glasses by Nick's pool.
The house proved to be even nicer in person than online. The original owner was an architect and he crafted the interior to resemble a sleek maze with a set of stairs winding up three stories. Nearly every window boasts a view of the water and every floor a balcony to capture the breeze that comes off the water. In the dark-wood entryway, hidden doors to the bathroom, closet, and elevator (yes, there’s an elevator) are camouflaged into the paneling.
The basement is an adult’s playground with a small gym and 8-seat sound-proof movie theater. And the home’s technology is impressive, if impractical; the drapes can only be opened and closed via an app and the speakers built into the walls of the home have proven impossible to use (Sonos speakers scattered throughout the house imply that Nick was also unable to get them working).
It’s a sexy house made for sophisticated partying, and Dash and Beau are undoubtedly the first kids ever to live here; there’s only one tub to be found amongst the home’s five bathrooms. And a massive bathroom with an open shower large enough to accommodate at least a dozen post-pool revelers occupies half of the second floor, taking up the space that would normally be a fourth bedroom. The tipsy murmurs from ghosts of parties past echo off the shower's glass brick wall and slip-proof tiles.
But who is the man hosting the parties, the man whose life we’ve so seamlessly stepped into? I note the brand of Nick’s half-drank tequila bottle abandoned in the wet bar and drag my finger along the spines of the books tucked into his shelves, piecing together a picture from dozens of stolen glimpses; he’s a serious enough golfer to have a book on mastering the psychology of the game, a man who loves masculine fiction by the likes of Ian Fleming and Charleston-favorite Pat Conroy. He’s someone who has a pool table taking up the prime real estate in his living room and a vintage beach car under construction in his garage. He subscribes to all the ESPN channels, but no premium movie channels. He has a fancy espresso machine (complete with coordinating tiny porcelain cups), but no basic coffee maker.
When I stumble into a closet where he's stashed his ties or well-worn sneakers as to be out of our way, I'm often a little embarrassed by my intimate and unreciprocated knowledge of Nick.
Perhaps even more fascinating than Nicks’ distinctions are his similarities with my husband, Chris. He and Chris are both 33-year-old yuppie white guys from Boston. When we’re in the driveway strapping the kids in their car seats, neighbors wave hello and then do a double take; did Nick suddenly acquire a wife and two kids? Wait, something is off. That’s not quite Nick. It’s like a Sliding-Doors-style glimpse at the two different directions one person’s life can go in: swinging bachelor, doting dad.
I opened a dresser drawer this morning and couldn’t immediately determine if the belts and shorts inside belonged to my husband or Nick. They were Nick’s (I think).
Yesterday, while unpacking the rest of my toiletries in an upper cabinet of the master bath, I stumbled upon a stash of manicure supplies; nail files, polish remover and cotton squares. Signs of a girlfriend. I was startled by a feeling akin to jealousy. I thought I was the only woman in this house.
This unexpected discovery poked a hole in my carefully crafted narrative. What if Nick has been seriously dating the same girl for years? Or maybe he's a gentleman who lets his mother stay in the master? The reality is that I don’t actually know anything about Nick.
We’ve only been in Charleston a week, and with every day – and every toy strewn on the carpet – the house is starting to feel more like our home than Nick’s. In a way, it's nice to establish our claim on the property. But in another way, there’s an escapist thrill to living a sexy single fantasy life, even if just for the summer – and with a husband and two kids in tow.
(image: Mustache Harbor)