Kurt, Laurel, Quincy and Robyn Epstein stood for a moment to take in their new environment. Kurt wasn’t pleased that they were moving to their new house in the dead of night, what would the neighbors think?
Laurel didn’t care. She was just happy at their turn of fortune. Her great-uncle had died, which was sad, but he left behind an inheritance. No one knew why, but he left everything to her! The rest of her family didn’t begrudge her this great gift, especially after she wrote every single one of them a check for $25,000. Each.
Something about giving away money and still having so much left changes a person. Laurel liked to think she would never forget her roots, but looking at this amazing house, what some could consider a mansion, she was already forgetting the potholes, poor plumbing, and nothing-organic food of her youth. She looked at her daughter, Robyn, and wondered if she would take to this new life. So far, she refused to wear the new dress Laurel bought her. She still looked like she did when she played on the broken swings at the playground. Time would tell.
Laurel knew one thing. With this new life came a new career for her: Stay-at-home Mom! No more work for her, she would cook and clean. Heck, she’d darn socks if she needed to. Her family would want for nothing. With her new dress, she already looked the part. She told the family to stay outside while she headed in to whip up their first family meal. Now that they had a dining room table, they were definitely going to put it to good use!
They happily chatted about the weather, drier and warmer than they were used to. They all knew how much this move meant to Laurel, and they wanted their first night in the new house to go just as well as she did. Also, no one wanted to aggravate her temper. She’d been in such a good mood since the inheritance check came in. Everyone wanted to keep it that way.
“And remember, when Mom asks you how you like the new house, and her newfound cooking skills, you’ll say you love them both,” Kurt reminded Quincy and Robyn.
“I won’t eat anything that looks gross, but I’ll do my best,” replied Robyn.
“Hey, you know I’ll eat anything. I’ll scarf down whatever she makes, and say something charming and sincere about how great all of this is. And it is! Look at this house! Look at this new neighborhood. We’re gonna be fine dad,” reassured Quincy.
When Laurel called them to the meal, they each grabbed a bowl of salad and gathered around their new dining room table for the first time.
They each dug into the salad, pleasantly surprised that Laurel’s first real attempt at cooking ended well.
“How does it taste guys?” Laurel asked tentatively. She really wanted to do well for her family.
Instead of always being away from home at two different jobs, she found herself excited to be home with her family, enjoying dinner all together. This new role of stay-at-home still fit like new jeans needing a few more washes to fit perfectly, and a little reassurance was all she needed.
“What do you think guys,” Kurt asked, with eyebrows raised as an encouraging reminder.
“I think it’s great! Really, it’s tasty mom,” said Robyn.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be done with this bowl in no time,” chimed in Quincy.
The family talked and laughed through dinner. Robyn tried out some of her new jokes, but she seemed to be the only one amused. Her father smiled at her admiringly, but no laugh. Her mother and brother shoved more food into their mouths in lieu of a reply.
As they wrapped up dinner, Laurel hopped up to clear the table. She paused as she realized she’d never cleaned up after dinner for her family before. She was always at work, and the dishes were usually done well before her late shift ended.
Also, she was glad to have a reason to leave the room as Robyn attempted more jokes. Kurt did his best to keep a straight face; he wanted to only laugh with his daughter, not at her. Quincy was about to go full frown soon though.
Luckily, he followed her out the room.
Once they were alone, Robyn switched gears.
“Daddy, now that we’re alone, I have something important to discuss. Have you noticed our new house. You know… how it looks? I mean, who even decorated this place?”
Kurt was thinking of a good response, but worried Laurel might overhear. As he was about to respond, Laurel walked back in, ready to clear their plates.
Both Kurt and Robyn froze with smiles on their faces.
“We’ll talk about this later,” he whispered through his smile.
“Okay daddy,” she whispered back.
The next morning brought the arrival of the Welcome Wagon. Kurt saw them coming through the window, so he went outside to greet them. His new neighbor still walked up to the front door and knocked.
Kurt: Weird… very curious. Hopefully he’s less formal than he seems right now. I really don’t want crazy neighbors…
With the arrival of new neighbors, Laurel was back in the kitchen. She whipped up the best lunch she knew how: grilled cheese sandwiches. She was so worried her new neighbors would be snobbish and would be able to tell her low class background. She watched Nancy and Geoffrey Landgraab closely as they began to eat.
“So nice of you to welcome us to the neighborhood,” said Laurel.
“So nice of you to make us lunch. Nancy here never ever makes grilled cheese, but it’s been one of my favorite lunches since I was a little kid,” said Geoffrey.
Laurel turned to smile as Kurt as if to say, “I told you all rich people weren’t snobs.”
“There’s plenty more where that came from,” said Kurt. “As the head of the household, I think I can speak for all of us. We like you, Landgraabs. We like the cut of your jib. I’m sure we’ll all grow to be great friends.”
Nancy didn’t say much, but Laurel smiled inside when she noticed Nancy was one of the first to finish her grilled cheese sandwich.
Laurel: Maybe having rich, likely snobby, neighbors will go better than I thought. They can class us up and we can keep them grounded.
Robyn looked around and thought of the perfect joke for the occasion. Sure, no one laughed at her jokes last night, but they were tired from moving. Today was a new day.
She set it up, landed with grace on the punchline and… Everyone laughed! She made a note to keep that one for school the next day.
Once the Landgraabs left, Laurel jumped right into her first project in their house. She didn’t tell her family, but she’d paid a very famous designer to get the house ready for them to move in. She’d paid an obscene amount of money for what he described as an “Old Money Warmth” decor.
Her family didn’t say anything to her about it, but she could tell they weren’t very comfortable with the furnishings and decorations. She felt foolish for agreeing to this decor, but what was done was done.
She was going to be home all day everyday anyway. And they still had a lot of money. She would go room by room, and turn this place into the home of their dreams, even if it did end up looking “new money.”
She started by turning their unnecessary fourth bedroom upstairs into a gym. She wasn’t well versed in what needed to be in a gym, but she got rid of all the old furniture and started with the basics: machines, yoga mats, and mirrors. She’d add the rest over time.
After supervising the room change, she needed to unwind. What better way than breaking in the new gym?
The whole family went their separate ways as the day progressed. Robyn ended up in her room, drawing. She loved to draw and aspired to be a creative genius, but the darkness and formality of her new bedroom made it difficult.
Robyn: I’m just going to focus in my dark little corner, and do the best I can on this rainbow. I’m not going to even look around at this room with the huge bed, dark walls, and is that a ship on the nightstand? Seriously?? I’m 7 years old. I’m going to have to talk to daddy sooner rather than later about this.
Kurt and Quincy ended up in Quincy’s room. Kurt started to Fill Out Reports, his first task for his new job, while Quincy did his homework in the background.
Kurt smiled because of how easy the work was. Back at home, he was a supervisor, but there was no way for him to transfer over his job to Oasis Springs, so he had to start back at the bottom. He was still a young man though, so he was confident he had time to catch back up in his career.
Soon, Laurel and Robyn joined the guys in Quincy’s bedroom. Kurt got up to help Quincy with his homework, and Laurel did the same for Robyn. With their parents’ assistance, soon the homework was complete.
It had been a long day, so the kids each got into their huge beds. Kurt and Laurel lingered by the ottoman as a thought came to Kurt.
“You know what we haven’t done, even though we’ve been in this house for over 24 hours? We haven’t properly christened this place,” said Kurt.
Laurel quickly agreed. They left Quincy’s room quietly, so as to not wake him. They lumbered sleepily down the hall to their bedroom.
“We ought to call this the East Wing of the house,” joked Kurt.
Laurel chuckled, but her humor quickly turned into something else as they made their way into bed. It was, for Laurel and Kurt, the perfect way to settle into their new lives.