Hi, are you alive? I, too, am alive. Good, so we got that straightened out.
This weekend Joe and I got a babysitter and looked at seven houses. SEVEN. Actually, it ended up being six--one of them had some problems with flooding that they needed to deal with before they were ready to show it to prospective buyers, which actually worked out well because who wants to buy a house that has problems with flooding? Of the six houses we had two good leads--two leads that actually highlighted the key schism in the real estate market generally. One was a older, smaller house closer to the middle of of town, and the other was a newer, bigger house farther out towards the suburbs. I grew up in a 900 square foot apartment in Manhattan (actually, 900 square foot might be optimistic--I was smaller at the time, after all) so you can imagine which way my loyalties skew; I often argue how our consumeristic American lifestyles make us think that we need more space when they've been living in prewar nestlike warrens in Europe for centuries and having a pretty good time of it. But actually--and very surprisingly, at least to me--I found myself gravitating towards the house farther out towards the suburbs.
It's not that I need a lot of space, mind you. For a family of four, we really don't have a lot of stuff, and even if we did, our habit of serial relocation has forced us to purge most of the non-essentials. The fact that what little furniture we have is basically disposable (various castoff mismatched Ikea-esque plywood monstrosities, what have you--except for Cal's little bed, none of the rest of us even have bedframes, JUDGE IF YOU MUST) winnows our possessions even further, as it's unclear what would survive one more move or what at this point is even worth moving. (I'm looking at you, interspecies pee-stained sofabed.) And the house wasn't even that nice. At least, not to the general public. It's been on the market for more than a year. It has weird 80's decorator touches inside, the equivalent of giant triangular shoulder pads on a teal and black power suit, but, you know, inside a house. The exterior is a little unusual-looking. Not decrepit or depressing, mind you (there are houses that we saw that I basically discounted immediately because you walked inside and my initial gut reaction was GAH, THAT'S WHERE THE OLD LADY HANGED HERSELF) but just a little unusual for the area--it almost reminded of of New England in a way. Our realtor (a very straight up guy, he's not one for the hard sell) tactfully referred to it as "an ugly duckling."
BUT I LOVE IT, YOU GUYS.
I know you're not supposed to fall in love with a house, and look, I'm not in love, it's business, strictly business...BUT THIS HOUSE IS GREAT. I could see us living there. I figured out where the kids should put their toys. I figured out where my bookshelves could live. The light is great. The backyard is where Cal could plant his vegetables. There's a whole separate room with two walls of windows where I could paint one wall with chalkboard paint and put a big wood table turn it into a homework room. GUYS GUYS YOU GUYS A HOMEWORK ROOM. If that didn't just give you a big old Chinese Mom boner, well, then I don't even know you anymore.
I'm not saying it's perfect and I'm not saying it doesn't need a little touch up work, but...guys. I love this house. I can't explain why, I can't explain why I love it so much more than the other houses in the same school district with the same number of bedrooms and the same square footage and offered at the same price. BUT I DO. Maybe we won't end up living there. Maybe we'll make an offer and they won't accept it. Maybe we will go back this weekend and realize that it was built on an ancient burial ground. They moved the headstones but they left the bodies! And maybe it's an ugly duckling, that much is evident by public consensus. But it's the only place that I've seen during our three-plus years of home-searching that I've so vividly been able to imagine us in.
We're going back to see it this weekend. This time, we're bringing the kids. And then after that...we'll see.