When Dreams Change

by Rachel Creager Ireland

The Palermo house is being auctioned today. It might even be over by now. I’d love to see who gets it, and I’d love even more to see what they do with it.

This spectacular house stands out in Cottonwood Falls as one of the grandest residences. Maybe too grand for modest Chase Countians, because sometime in its past, it was broken up into twelve apartments. In the 1970s, the Palermos bought the house and began restoring it to its former beauty. They knocked out twenty walls. They gutted rooms and replastered the curving walls. They removed excess plumbing. They lived in the house while they worked on it, and continued to live there after reclusive Kain Palermo fell ill, and restoration was halted. It remains unfinished.

I’d always wanted to see the inside of this house, and I’d sometimes fantasized about owning it. Living in it. I’d pass occasionally and gaze at the ornate urn in front of the porch, at the wide screened sleeping porch upstairs, the round attic window. Overgrown hedges and trees looming close to the house gave it a secretive, haunted feel. It’s a house I might well find myself inhabiting in a dream, one of so many, in which I walk the rooms, imagining what I’ll do in each, feeling the satisfaction of calling this place my own.

Hundreds of people came to the pre-auction open house. I imagine that they, like myself, had been under the spell of the Palermo house.

As I walked through the expansive, empty rooms, the parquet floors gray with wear, the spell broke. It’s a glorious wreck with immense potential. Contrary to the many dreams I’ve had of possessing a place like this, I find at this time in my life I have not the slightest shred of desire to own this house in the waking world. Let someone have it who has the skills, ambition, and resources to resurrect this grand old dame into the spectacular home she was meant to be.

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