Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 61 of 365: The First House

By a bit of luck, I broke 12 miles yesterday. I set out to run only 11 miles, but I'm still unfamiliar with the intricate network of neighborhoods and I had decided to go with a completely new route. I got made a wrong turn, misread the directions I had cryptically scribbled on the palm of my hand, and ended up adding an extra mile to the mix.

I picked the route I did because I learned (from driving, interestingly enough) that one of my longer running routes was incredibly close to a road I will call Cornelle Blvd. I changed around a few directions and added a trek to Cornelle Blvd and back, even though it meant taking a route that I finally knew by heart and turning it on its ear.

I got lost, got sore, felt the new, tender skin on the bottom of my foot sing and sizzle with every step (normal women pay good money to get the tough skin on their feet sloughed off. I get frustrated when it happens naturally). I quickly learned that the "hop, skip, and a jump" in a car was a two mile, uphill trek on foot. But I kept on going until I crossed town lines, turned right onto Cornelle Blvd, and ran past 34 Cornelle Blvd.

It's seems a little silly to put so much effort into passing a house, but 34 Cornelle Blvd was the first house. The very first house we officially looked at, on our very first outing with our realtor.

Our meeting with the realtor was considered preliminary: we were test driving her as a realtor as much as we were test driving these houses. Although we really didn't need to meet with any other realtors. On top of coming fully recommended by two of our friends, she had an appreciation for sarcasm and cynical humor, which is essential if you are going to spend more than 10 seconds in a room with my husband.

The house itself was lovely. We spent the car ride back talking about how we liked the house, how we could definitely see ourselves living in a house like that, how we wouldn't mind if that was the house we ended up buying. It was not the passionate excitement that we were hoping for, but only time would tell if housebuying would ever result in such a feeling. For all we knew, searching for a home could be as cold and pragmatic as finding a bank to get a loan from.

We held out hope. Even as we went to house, after house, after house. After we listed about 80+ homes, only to find out that half of them would close before we got a chance to see it (one house went on the market on Day 1, went on our list on Day 2, and accepted an offer on Day 3). We went into absolutely beautiful houses -- houses anyone should be happy to be living in -- and felt like things were just a little off. The layout was not to our exact specifications. The living room bled too much into the kitchen and eating areas. The neighborhood was too cookie cutter and formulaic.

We almost went back to Cornelle Blvd. After visiting about 35 homes in person, Cornelle was still at the top of our list. We didn't love it, but we liked it. A lot. And maybe that would be enough. It was definitely better than a good portion of the houses we had found (some houses were in such a state of disrepair that we took one look at it and went, "Well, this was fun.") But, for the amount of money a house costs, we weren't ready to settle. Especially since we had out apartment until November (and, as we learned, the fees and penalties with breaking a lease with them is enough to cripple anyone financially).

And then we found the house we live in now. The colors were off, the decorations were gaudy. It had a basement garage instead of a first floor garage. But it was home. We had a good feeling coming in to the visit -- a feeling that only intensified as we went from room to room to room. It wasn't perfect -- heaven knew we would spend a lot of money to repaint 80% of the interior and end up storing away 90% of the decorative things they left behind for us -- but it was love. We asked for a second visit, if only to keep ourselves to impulsively making an offer on the spot. We drove home, trying to find rational reasons why this house was our house, only to find ourselves quickly descending into pumping our fists to "Cotton Eye Joe" and eating celebratory ice cream.

I didn't initially set out to find such a comparison, but I couldn't help but see the parallels: the way I discuss the house search is almost verbatim how people discuss the dating world. She likes him, but she doesn't love him. He wouldn't be upset if she was someone he ended up marrying. Maybe she should go back to a previous partner; he was always the one she liked best, and she has been dealing with nothing but losers as of late. And maybe that's what the dating world is -- settling with whatever you can find, that that euphoric moment of realizing you found something incredible only happens in books.

And this is why the divorce rate is so high. So many people who look around and go, "Good enough," because they don't have faith that they'll ever find better. People in unhealthy relationships who decide that a marriage will solve everything -- and, hey, we have the rest of our lives to figure out how not to make each other miserable! And then that house that was literally right around the corner will get passed by, and you'll never get that exciting first date, or that moment of realization that you've found your match. And you'll never pump your fists to "Cotton Eye Joe" and eat ice cream to celebrate.

Maybe I'm not one to talk: I met my husband when I was a few months shy of 20 -- and at a time when I didn't believe in marriage or long-term relationships -- so I never had to worry about the adult dating pool, or that anxiety over whether or not the person you are dating is the person you'll start a family with. The idea of marriage and long-term plans came organically, like watching the leaves change color and fall to the ground. There was never a moment where I had to look around, shrug my shoulders, and go, "Good enough, I guess."

But still, I ran by the house yesterday, looking over at it as much as I could without literally running myself off the road. It really is a nice house: a little farmer's porch to one side, large bay windows in the front. The realtor sign is gone, and I can only imagine who eventually put an offer on it. It's a house anyone should feel lucky to live in. But it wasn't the house for us. Something I know with even more certainty as I compare it to the house I have now, a house that is over 6 miles away but, in some ways, just right around the corner.

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