When I look back at all the works of literature that have had a major impact on my life, they all have one thing in common - a setting that acts as an additional main character. What would Harry Potter have been without Hogwarts? Lucy without Narnia? Peter without Neverland?
Looking back, I think I’ve always projected that idea into my own life. In college, I lived in a matchbox efficiency apartment that was built in the 50s (charm on a budget with a perfect location). Upon graduating with a fine art degree, I moved onto my favorite street in Laurel. That darn budget got in the way again, but I found a way around it by renting a garage apartment that was built in the 20s behind one of my favorite Laurel houses. Both of these options gave me the opportunity to be a part of a community. Their location let me walk to school/work and let me never get outside the sphere of the action.
I was burned out from being on one too many committees when I made the decision to pack up and leave Laurel. I put everything in storage, and I moved onto a sailboat in small coastal town in Alabama. This chapter of my story is where I met my wife, where I learned about myself (my marina was quiet and had zero cell phone reception), and where I fell in love with retail and small business.
I moved home a year later, this time into one of the houses on my favorite street in Laurel. A beautiful craftsman cottage built in 1911. She became a member of our family. It was where I got ready before walking to my wedding a few blocks away in a park downtown, where we brought a screaming baby home from the hospital and where we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and hardships. We opened our business and spent countless hours walking to and from the store on the oak-lined streets. Those sidewalks where were my daughter, Fincher, learned to ride her bike, and where our dog, Maggie, made her countless laps around the block looking for that perfect place to sniff. We were living our best story. Not perfect by any means, but our best. And then we got the news that baby number two was on the way.
Our daughter, Poppy, arrived with much excitement two days before her big sister’s birthday. We brought her home and had a four-year-old birthday party on the same day. Our house was decorated with paper streamers, and the cake and ice cream were perfect. As the guests (all family) dwindled and our house emptied, all that was left was torn wrapping paper, an exhausted birthday girl, an even more exhausted mom and dad, and a tiny new shiny pink baby. Lily and I looked at each other knowing, our perfect setting wasn’t quite as perfect anymore.
We climbed in the bed, each holding a sleeping child, and talked about what the future in our house looked like. We saw a full life there, but we also had wishes we knew would never be fulfilled by staying. Not thinking too seriously, we started to look around the historic district for a new “perfect setting.” Every place we saw was full of potential, but we were in agreement that none of them had anything that our craftsman cottage didn’t already have. That’s when we called Ben and Erin and looked at a few potential places, but I’ll never forget driving up to the farm.
It was Worn. Out.
The house had been a rental for something like 10 years. It hadn’t been updated that entire time. It was dark and tired and had a slight smell. But then we took a step back and started looking at potential instead of reality.
The house was smaller than we really thought we wanted, but the perfect layout made it seem bigger. It had a bonus room over the detached garage - a perfect studio for me to work from home. And then, turning our back on the house, we really saw the setting for the first time. Seven beautiful acres adjoining twenty more of family land.
After seeing it with the Napiers, we took the girls back out to really begin thinking and praying about the decision. Walking around the house, the potential continued growing, and about that time, we realized that Fincher had snuck away from the house tour. We found her halfway up the magnolia tree in the front yard. That’s when we knew. We saw our girls growing up and learning hard work and patience from a backyard garden, learning compassion and gentleness from raising chickens. We saw their imaginations blooming, and our decision was made. We found our new setting.
The rest of the process is really a blur. We bought the house and handed over the keys. A few months later in early December, we followed a camera crew out to our farm, which is still so weird to say. They blindfolded us, drove us to the front door, and introduced us to the newest member of our story. The design was on point - everything we could have hoped and more, right down to the chicken coop in the front yard. The day could not have gone better. The sparkle of the television show left. Fincher and I made a trip to the feed store to pick out a few new feathered friends that we lovingly named after some of the staff from Home Town (which made losing Angie to a dog extremely more difficult... sorry Angie). And the vision of our perfect setting has become a way of life.
I'm proud to say, almost three months later. We have lived away from our “sphere of action” and “out in the county” successfully without dying from the quiet.
Adam is the owner and designer at Adam Trest Home in Laurel, MS. After a time spent living on a sailboat painting and working in his aunt’s gift shop, Adam decided to move back to Laurel to open his own business. Adam Trest Home was opened in April of 2016 as a place to sell his whimsical watercolor designs on items such as fabrics, coffee mugs, and stationery.