Tag Archives: Charbridge Arbor

Charbridge

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Charbridge Arbor was a brand new housing complex in 1974, when we moved in. It was across from the shopping plaza on M21 and had several paved streets, lined with parking spaces, that led to the rows of apartments and townhouses. Ours was in the very back row, the first unit in the second building. There was a back way in and out of the complex, just past our street, that went out to smaller roads and rows of cute houses with nice sidewalks and shade trees.

On the street side, there was a strip of grass, then sidewalk. A cement walkway  through another bit of grassy area led  to the porch, two steps up, and the door.

Inside, the entry hall. “Finally, a real foyer,” I exclaimed when I saw it, as if it was something I’d been sorely lacking. To the right was a closet behind a set of metal bi-fold doors. To the left, a landing, then stairs went up, parallel to the entry hall. Straight ahead, a wall with a square opening in it delineated living room from dining room. the tiled floor gave way to gold carpet in the living areas. A door on the left wall revealed steps that led downstairs to the basement, exactly under the stairs leading up.

The dining room was small, but open. It was divided from the living room only by the partial wall, and from the kitchen by bar-height counters. A hanging light fixture (“A chandelier!”) was centered over the area for the table. Light came in from windows in the kitchen and living room. A broom closet was tucked in behind the kitchen wall.

The tiny corridor kitchen was surprisingly easy to work in. One window, straight ahead, looked out to the parking lot. On the right, the stove and refrigerator were divided by a cabinet and narrow counter. On the left, the double sink was in the center of a bank of cabinets. Overhead cabinets lined both walls.

The living room was large and airy. Sliding glass doors led out to a patio flanked with wood fences for privacy. Beyond that was a grassy strip, and a stand of trees beyond.

Upstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a linen closet on the landing. The front bedroom, that my daughters shared, had a walk-in closet. The bedroom that faced the woods was the one my husband and I shared. It had a full wall of closets, behind metal bi-fold doors.

The basement was just one big room. It housed the furnace and hot water heater. There was a hook up for laundry facilities there. Eventually we got a washer and dryer. Before long, we turned half of the room into a large play area for the girls, with bean bag chairs, a bouncing horse and a small indoor slide. In time, I took the area by the stairs to use as a studio. At first, though, the basement was the repository for everything that didn’t meet the standards for our beautiful new home. Many moving boxes never got unpacked, as I deemed their contents unworthy of the space.

I still get nostalgic for that place, sometimes. I had never lived in such a spacious, well-planned and finished home before. Turns out, I never have since, either. That’s only part of the reason, though. It wasn’t so much the address, as the things that happened there. Of course, I didn’t know it then, but the time I lived at Charbridge was pivotal in my life.

 

Glimpses

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I looked up, in a dream last night, and was looking directly into my little kitchen at Charbridge Arbor.

And – in that dream – I was suddenly changed: the eyes I was looking through and the mind that was racing were those of my younger self, when I lived in that place.

There was the divided counter with the entrance between, separating the kitchen from the dining area. A simple corridor kitchen with a window on the far wall that looked out to the parking lot. The sink was in the left bank of cabinets, the harvest gold appliances on the right. From my position, I faced the window. I had used heavy cotton twine and a pattern for a rectangular filet crochet doily to make a window covering. It was stretched between two tension rods, softening the view with the floral pattern.

I moved into Charbridge Arbor just about forty years ago, weeks before my youngest daughter was born.

Out of the “Lake House” where the floors tilted and the curtains moved with the wind outside…where the mice ran rampant up the pipes from the Michigan basement and into the metal cabinets of that small kitchen…where the only truly warm spot was right on top op the floor grate that brought the heat up from the furnace. I moved out of the “Lake House” that we’d had such ambitious plans and high hopes for, but never quite enough time or money to accomplish them.

I moved out of the “Lake House” with my husband and my toddler, and in to a townhouse in the brand new Charbridge Arbor complex. New gold carpet matched the appliances. A basement had hook-ups for washer and dryer. Two bedrooms (so large! with real closets!) and a bathroom were upstairs. Every single thing worked, from light switches to windows and doors! The complex was unfinished, so our view out the sliding glass doors in the living room led to a little patio with a sweet little woods beyond. It seemed like the answer to a dream!

It was into this home that I brought my second daughter home, making our little family complete.

It was from this home that I taught myself how to cook Chinese food, started taking college classes and began painting.

I’d walk my daughters to the park – so often in warm weather that they thought it was their own – and to visit friends and relatives nearby.

My sisters visited me here, and – surprisingly – even my Mom and Dad, who were not prone to visiting, stopped by.

When my older daughter started kindergarten, we walked to her school together.

This seemed in many ways like the ideal place for us.

It was only Beaver Island, with all of the memories and hopes and dreams wrapped up in that place, that pulled us away.

I left Charbridge Arbor in 1978, and didn’t look back.

Until last night.