Advising a couple who are divorcing and selling their home gets Sebastian Gibson thinking about how we choose our homes and the people that inhabit them with us
‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ Nor does the course of not-so-true love it would appear from my experience this last week. My latter thirties have been inhabited by more tales of divorce than upcoming nuptials. It seems only an idle summer ago that everyone I knew was getting married but now those couples are being to unravel.
It was with disbelief that I learnt of one couple with two small children who are divorcing. I like both of them and they seemed to me rock solid. Shared values, shared aspirations, kind to each other and publicly affectionate — it just shows that you never know what goes on behind closed doors. I’d found them their Notting Hill house some seven years ago and now was being charged with disposing of it and replicating it for both of them with the same budget.
The rawness and hurt between them is palpable and much as I don’t want to take sides, I have been canvassed to. I feel like a relationship counsellor more than a real estate broker. I say to them, ‘Why did you first fall in love, try and remember that and you’ll remember all the positive things about X’.
One half said, ‘I think that I just wanted the security of a relationship,’ while the other noted, ‘I’m not sure if I ever really was in love.’ I don’t believe it, the pain and anger over a third party involvement is causing temporary amnesia. But it’s interesting to think of what makes us fall in love with people and places.
The course of true love never did run smooth: Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill
I remember being a very green and newly graduated runner in Los Angeles. My role: to fetch Susan Sarandon her non-fat decaf latte; the whole of Tinsel-town seemed new and exciting and somewhat overwhelming. I had a family friend from childhood, a certain English type who was set for success from a young age with an incredibly attractive and lightly flirtatious (when necessary) exterior and a steely interior.
Film was her chosen field though I imagine she’d have gone about any profession with an equal single-mindedness. She invited me up to her house in the Canyons that she shared with her producer boyfriend who was 15 years her senior. With us being 22 years old each that seemed a big gap and she represented a sophistication and chutzpah that was alien to my rather gauche self.
‘The thing is Sebastian, I’m just not sure if I’m here for the view or the man,’ she said to me as we sat beside a swimming pool looking across the sprawl of LA and the Pacific in the distance. I liked her candour though I wasn’t sure if I liked her. We all have our reasons for choosing homes and the people that inhabit them with us; it’s just a knack to make sure they’re the right ones.
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