I went to my bedroom earlier than usual this evening, disappointed over another property I was urged to let go of, and wanting to process this in writing, or maybe just to escape into a Father Brown episode. That kind of repeated disappointment deflates me like balloon. That’s what it felt like to send the email to let our realtor know that I did not need to view it tomorrow after all. Then I cried a little.
The little house, built in 1889 and a half hour’s walk from our current one, was well within our budget, and a potential investment as well as office and getaway/rental. But like the blue vinyl cafe (the one I sort of fell for a few weeks ago), it just isn’t the one for us, apparently, because who wants a house without a driveway, or one where a driveway, if deemed allowable despite the designation of the hillside as critical area, would require a geo-engineer to sign off for permitting?
I say, if the old lady who lived there since the ’60s didn’t need a driveway, that neither do we. I say, I’ll just bike up the hill with the salt, cheese, and coffee, and let the food come from the soil and the henhouse. I like the idea of no driveway–a real paradigm-shifter whose time has come. But banks do not agree, as they have to be concerned with a quick sale should the buyer default on their payments, and partially paved paradise seems to be part of the preferred package.
The house had a bow window facing south with a view of the mountains, overgrown fruit trees, evergreens and bird habitat, all on a third of an acre. Just up from one of our favorite walking streets, for its funky, friendly, neighborly feel and abundance of trees and gardens. My daughter and I dreamed ourselves in it–an office for the business, and she and her older brother living there and keeping it up, and sharing the place with a third roommate to help pay the mortgage. It had a porch nestled up against a pine tree for shelter from the rain and head, for conversations. My daughter lit up when she realized that there, she could have a cat, safe from the Siberian husky we have at home. The house was old, and she hoped it had that “old” smell. The carpets in the downstairs bedrooms were shag in primary colors–in the photos, the south light streaming in the windows onto them made it look like a college party was in progress.
It was not the dream house, not the dream property. Whatever that is, anymore, besides impossible to agree on–too many variables. But I thought, why not just buy something small, a fixer-upper, for casual use and let it appreciate ($30,000 up in assessed value over the four years isn’t bad), knock around the house and property for fun? Seems better than putting more money into an IRA invested in the stock market. Real estate is real. You can plant a garden there, and come in from the rain. Frankly, I don’t believe my mate will ever be ready to take the big step of buying a more expensive place to replace the one we own now. Every time we have come close, he realizes how much risk we’re taking on, when as a contractor, his job could go away next week. Puts a damper on most dreams–a reality check. I get that–I don’t want him to be tied to a commute and high-stress work that he no longer has the heart for, and as a new teacher, I couldn’t afford it on my own.
We all need more space, and the idea of a project (not too big or urgent, or involving living in the garage or under a canopy on the patio–this time) excites us. That blue vinyl-sided house from a few weeks ago could have been an office and rental, even a little coffee house for locals (another dream I had). I’d help the kids at the nearby elementary school with their garden, and buy what they grew for my salad specials, let them meet their math tutors and mentors over home grown mint tea, on the house. There were several outbuildings for workshops and other uses. A finished attic for office space. But its sale was already pending, and it’s one now.
I suppose I can see this process of wanting, planning, dreaming, the letting go as a kind of growth opportunity, or a process to clarify our priorities. So I do, but my priorities haven’t changed, though my circumstances have. I want sunlight, neighbors, a kind of homey, old, Charlie Brown Christmas tree house that I can nurture and not be out-classed by, some land for a garden, space to work with tools and materials, both indoors and outdoors. Room for visitors, this time, would be nice, but with the four kids grown or almost grown, that will be a given most of the time.
I want a kitchen table without a wall looming so close over the table I leave it bare so it won’t look even smaller. I want a house with the TV way out back or downstairs or even in a separate building, not in the living room, the only other place to sit inside other than at the kitchen table (with the wall looming).
So I drink my turmeric tea, listen to the quiet slosh of the dishwasher and some drops of rain splattering from the trees onto the stove vent hood on the roof. The bread is rising for the buns I’ll bake tomorrow for Thanksgiving. My daughter and her friend helped knead while I made up some coleslaw from the two cabbages I cut this week. We’ll drive south to join nine other family members on my husband’s side. There are three new babies in the family, and all my sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and mother- and father-in law are well. My parents, brothers, and sisters are all doing okay too, too, though I see them seldom. My husband and four children are healthy, and successfully navigating life. Who’s to say whether I should be wanting anything? Still, next week I’ll call the back and get another pre-approval for a loan, just in case.