Moving On Up...Or Over...Or Just Slightly Due South. No, North! Fuck.
September 13, 2006
We bought our little condo five years ago, back when the real estate market had fully lost its goddamned mind. Places went under contract within hours of being listed or while we were looking at them. Everything sparked a bidding war and went for thousands above the asking price. You didn't dare ask for an inspection.
"Termites? Who cares about termites? They just mean your house is delicious."
"We'll take it!"
We finally lucked out on our place because the sign for the open house had been knocked over and nobody could find the listing. We spotted the lock box on the door and wandered in. We met a very confused-looking realtor. "I don't know where all the foot traffic is today," she clucked as we signed her completely empty guest log. "Usually these open houses are wall-to-wall people."
We murmured in fake amazement, took a quick lap around the unit and went outside to call our agent while casually sitting on top of the flattened sign and glaring at some young couples who were wandering around with realtor.com printouts and staring at the maze of identical buildings and doorways in confusion.
We had every intention of staying here until Noah started school -- maybe even longer, since the neighborhood elementary schools are shockingly decent for the District. We're city people! We love cement! We hate yardwork! And houses! And strip malls! And easy accessibility to Target! We're hardcore, man!
Then our friends sold their condo and bought a little brick house in the suburbs. As they gave us a tour, we realized we were drooling. A driveway! A grill! A basement! More than one toilet! A place to keep the ironing board!
We watched Ceiba run around the backyard in pure doggie joy as Noah squealed and laughed, and I took Jason's hand and squeezed it knowingly.
"You're imagining a swing set over there, aren't you?"
"What? No, I was thinking about what a kickass wine cellar we could build in that basement."
And also: TOTALLY KICKASS.
We've been kind of dragging our feet ever since. Our real estate agent royally sucked last time (she didn't show up for our closing because, as she told Jason on the phone, she had "the runs") and we've been a little gunshy about picking someone this time. We also keep changing our minds about the neighborhood we want. And then this weekend I think we changed our mind about which STATE we want.
We're staying as close to the city as possible (I keep joking that our big move to the burbs is actually just a move down the street and across a bridge, which is not really that big of an exaggeration), and there are literally about fourteen million listings in our price range. Which is a big jump from five years ago, when we made out our wish list of features and locations and prices and ended up with a place that cost more than we wanted to pay and met exactly one criteria from our list: IT SHOULD HAVE A ROOF. (We wrote NON-LEAKING in the "bonus" column.)
So this Sunday we drove around, toddlet in tow, to look at open houses. The real estate agents eyed us hungrily -- they were bored and lonely and kept offering us candy and cookies if we'd just stick around and talk to them. One open house had a full ice cream sundae bar. We stomped around the houses, sighing at hideous outdated kitchens and poking walls of knotty-pine paneling to see how easily we could rip that shit off.
We attempted to stop for lunch at a Panera but the parking lot was full. There was even a line to GET OUT of the parking lot, composed entirely of cars who'd foolishly decided to pull in and circle around and were now trapped. Including us. I started to get that shallow-breathy feeling I only seem to get in suburban parking lots when some guy started knocking on Jason's window.
"OH MY GOD." I whispered. "LOCK YOUR DOOR. HE PROBABLY HAS A GUN. OH MY GOD PLEASE WE HAVE A BABY."
Jason shot me a look and lowered his window. The guy liked Jason's car and wanted to know what make and model it was. He was especially impressed at how well Noah's carseat fit into the back.
"Why would he have a gun? He's just on his way to Starbucks."
"I thought he wanted to carjack us."
"Oh yes, he'd steal our car and then continue to inch his way to the exit. He could probably make a clean getaway in under 40 minutes!"
"Normal people don't just rap on people's car windows. It's not...natural."
"People are friendlier out here."
"LOOK, I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE RULES OUT HERE. LET'S GO EAT AT CHIPOTLE INSTEAD."
Anyway. I am sort of nuts. But I am still confident we're making the right choice by moving, even though we certainly didn't find our dream home. Yet. Oddly, our favorite house was the one that needed the most work, despite my insistence that as God is my witness, I would never renovate a kitchen again. A house that had been completely and beautifully remodeled felt too much like someone else's home. I don't know. I think we'll know our house when we find it.
Although I am pretty sure it wasn't the house with the next-door neighbors who repeatedly shot their potato cannon into the backyard.
Tire: Does Not Convey.