Let me introduce myself. My name is Robb C. Sewell. I'm a writer/editor for a research center at Rutgers University.
Additionally, I'm a freelance arts and entertainment journalist. I've reviewed books, movies, music, and television, and interviewed a few celebrities. I'm also a writer of fiction—I've had a few short stories published; wrote a novella, a play, and a novel; and was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize and even won a writing award from my alma mater Rosemont College. I'm currently revising the novel, "Breeding Ground," in hopes of getting it published soon.
I'm a cancer survivor (melanoma back in 2003). I'm an avid cyclist. I'm a B-52s groupie. Oh, and I just so happen to be gay.
And now I'm blogging for Collingswood Patch about the GLBTQ scene. Aside from using this as a forum to discuss news that affects the queer community, I hope to use this blog to highlight queer people, groups, and happenings in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. I invite you to join me on this odyssey.
My partner Eric and I have been together for nearly 17 years. Eric works in information technology and also has a thriving second career as a potter. Check out his incredible work at www.mudandfire.com. (Yes, I'm a bit biased when it comes to Eric's work.) We live with our cats Tabby and Sciuto (pronounced Shoe-Toe) .
It's a house that has long been home to artists. The original homeowners were Margaret Cianfrani, a painter, and her husband, Victor. One of their sons, Michael Corbett, is today a real estate correspondent on ABC's "The View". In the 1980s, he made a name for himself playing villains on the soap operas "Ryan's Hope," "Search for Tomorrow," and "The Young and the Restless."
We're incredibly fortunate to live in such a beautiful house that once graced the pages of "Better Homes and Gardens" as the "home of the year" (a fact we just learned this past weekend.) We're also incredibly fortunate to live in Collingswood, a town that we have grown to love over the years.
We moved here in the depths of the housing market slump. Our friends and family were stunned when we announced our intention to sell our home in Burlington, New Jersey to move to Colls. After all, we had recently renovated the house and had a kick-ass kitchen that had been the brainstorm of the woman who had designed Donovan McNabb's master bedroom closet.
But after five years in Burlington, we knew not one person in our neighborhood. We felt isolated and frustrated, stuck in suburbia, mired in a community that lacked, well, community. We yearned to be part of a town that applauded diversity, a town that celebrated the arts, a town where people actually care about and interact with each other.
Put simply, we wanted to be part of Collingswood.
We started talking about moving to Collingswood in late 2009. For a few years, we had been noticing the town's resurgence. We were titillated by the artists' scene and the presence of a thriving GLBTQ community. We started looking at houses in Colls in early 2010 and then got wind that an acquaintance was selling his home.
We drove down one weekend, toured the house, and within 15 minutes brokered a deal to buy the house. We put our house on the market in May 2010. We rejoiced when we heard we had an offer, only to be dismayed to learn that it was $50,000 below the asking price.
A few weeks later, we got a second offer, only to once again be dismayed to find out that the house appraised below the selling price (imagine being told that your kitchen renovations only added $5,000 to the value of your home, especially when the stove alone cost $4,000).
Ultimately, we decided to focus on the fact that selling meant we could move to our dream home. We settled on the Burlington house in November. And then we were off to temporary quarters: Eric to live with friends alongside a lake in Medford, and the cats and I to my folks' house in East Brunswick.
We finally moved to Collingswood in December, a few days before Christmas. Ten days later, we hosted our first party on New Year's Eve, the first of many parties and events in our wonderful new abode.
We're thrilled to be in Collingswood, even with my 120-mile daily commute to work each day. (Yes, 120 miles.) But it's worth it when I cuddle with Tabby and Sciuto on our sun porch and look out at the sun glistening on the Cooper River. Finally, we're part of a community that has embraced us wholeheartedly.
And we have immersed ourselves in the town, getting to know our neighbors, hosting frequent parties, and getting involved with local groups. We've baked a plethora of desserts for the Proud Neighbors' brunch, and this year opened our home to hundreds of people who were on the Proud Neighbors' house tour. We joined the Collingswood community garden.
Eric is frequently at Second Saturday and the town festivals, selling his pottery. Twice a year, we open our home to the public for "Art Within Reach," a sale showcasing local artists. We're involved with PFLAG Collingswood, we're practicing yoga, we're spending lots of time tweaking our dream house. Just like "Laverne and Shirley," we're making our dreams come true.
We're lucky we found this house. We're grateful that our path has led us to Collingswood. At last, we're home.