The very large house on this property hadn't been lived in for years because it was part of decade-long divorce battle. Hunters liked to break in and use the grand fireplace in the basement for warmth and the pool table for fun. The woman of the pending-divorce wanted someone in the house to keep the hunters out. Sure! I'd love to plunk on the grand piano in the cathedral-sized living room facing the woods!
In an odd loop of coincidence, I was in this house many years before, when it was decked out in splendor. A friend and I were riding horses and saw a bunch of older teenaged boys floating a Volkswagen in the river. We called and laughed at them, they invited us to the fun. The mom served us gourmet sandwiches off giant silver trays, and kids swam in the Olympic-sized indoor pool to clean off river and Volkswagen grit. There was so much laughter; I can still hear it.
The house was silent when "we" lived there -- unless you want to count Andrew, our ghost. I felt like I had to ask his permission each time I drove down the 1/4 mile overgrown, gravel driveway. Someone advised me to tell Andrew to "go to the light!" I did, and then all the lights around the house turned themselves on and off. Ever after, my dog would put her feet on the wall and bark at light switches. I laughed a lot at that too.
The house had a 2nd story art studio, which was a happiness I had always fantasized about. I moved my many art supplies up the stairs and stared over the half-wall which overlooked the cathedral living room and out the 3 stories of windows that faced the woods -- and stared -- and stared -- and created nothing.
My dog and I took daily walks in the woods. We sat at the waterfall, communed with the white pines, picked mushrooms, violets, ramps, and sassafras. We watched the deer come up to the windows every evening... and eventually I started to become myself again after years of cheating, neglect, and verbal abuse. I signed up for an art festival, shoved my drawing table up to one of those giant windows, and started to paint again -- and couldn't stop.
I only lived at Valhalla spring through fall of 1 year, but it was a life-changing time for me. I didn't want to pay heat bills for a mansion so I kicked out the people living in my house and moved back to where I was before the abuse. We were happily divorced within the year. Well, I was happy about it at any rate.
Sometimes I thought it was ironic to call the place "Valhalla" because I was so unhappy when we moved there, but maybe it was the best and only name for the place I refound my happiness within myself.
Valhalla (Merriam-Webster definition)
1. the great hall in Norse mythology where heroes slain in battle are received
2. a place of honor, glory, or happiness
P.S. My blog buddy Jane is having a giveaway. Click on the photo below to go to her site for a chance to win.