Oh yes, it was freezing cold the weekend we headed upstate to sign the deal.
Fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, or minus ten Celsius. We decided to rent a room through Airbnb in a house with an amazing mountain view. During our Catskills house hunting tours the previous summer, we had stayed in the mansion of a very hospitable and erudite priest who claimed that he and his son had been the first US citizens to enter Russia after the fall of the Berlin wall. Although I doubt if the percentage of priests is higher in this part of the country, also this time our host introduced himself in a brief online description as a disciple of God. Another detail caught my attention. Despite a vast majority of rave reviews, one single one raised a red flag. One guest mentioned that he appreciated the help to get his car out of the snow, but not the sensation of his host’s hand on his knee afterward. Coincidence or not, but he was the only visitor with a Turkish name. This was a dilemma. What if this host had an uncontrollable fetish for Turkish men? Should we pass on the mountain view? We decided to take the risk. Worst case we were two rather-young men versus one not-so-young. What could happen in the end?
After we had picked up our rental car at La Guardia Airport, we hit the road in a north-west direction. Depending on traffic, it takes between less than three and up to five hours either way between New York City and Delaware County. Together with Ulster, Greene, and Sullivan, Delaware is one of the four counties that is occupied by the Catskill Mountains. When the car rental employee heard that we were heading upstate, he decided to give us a four-wheel drive. It turned out that this was not a luxury but a simple necessity to navigate the driveway leading to the house. At least we got saved from being saved in the dark.
It didn’t take us long to understand that our host seemed pleased with our presence. After he showed us our room and we had taken our bags from the car, we chatted for an hour in the living room about city and country life. He told an interesting anecdote about one of his teenage neighbors transitioning into a man –more about the surprising level of progressiveness in the countryside in another post– and dwelled on what seemed to be his previous studies. “I have a Master’s in Bation”, he said, changing the topic. I didn’t see the red flag waving and after I very naively asked “What is that?”, Taner hastily said it was getting late and we’d better go to sleep. We went to our room and locked the door. Just in case.
The following day we woke up to a wonderful view of a sun-drenched and snow-covered mountain range. After we had a last inspection of the house we were planning to buy, we drove to our real estate agent’s office where we met with the sellers and our attorneys to sign the contract. Two hours later, we hit the road back to Manhattan. With an extra pair of keys in our hands, and hundreds of hours of future renovation work. But little did we want to think about that at that moment.