When I was 31 I fell in love. No, I don’t mean to the man I met and married years ago. That is a different story about love. No, this was a new kind of love for me. It was a love that surprised me even though in the end it was just like every other love story.
I’m talking about real estate love.
It began with a searching and a desire. Much like any young teenager hoping for something they only dreamed of, read about, or imagined; we began browsing for a match. There was many a happy hour (okay, afternoons…fine… days & days) spent ogling house listing after house listing online. Maybe I was a bit addicted to Redfin, but this was young love. An often foolish, unreasonable thing.
Flush with my first infatuations I talked about them all the time, sent my husband email after gushing email. Every day was filled with anticipation and eager hopefulness. What would I find today? When would I feel that rush?
Then it stopped being a casual browse and became an earnest search. We had our matchmaker. We were going on dates.
We had made a list of everything we wanted. Our ideal match, the house of our dreams all prioritized. We said we didn’t expect to find everything on that list, but of course we did. A fireplace? We hardly used our apartment’s, but this was our house. Of course it had to have a fireplace. And I always wanted a gas stove and wouldn’t a garage or basement be great? Wood floors, a claw-foot tub, charming touches, modern updates, and of course affordable. I said it was an idyllic list, remember?
Every weekend we’d go receive a listing full of numbers, facts, and images taken to showcase the best features & carefully hide the worst. In between all those numbers I would picture a new life. I’d imagine us together, the happy days we would spend together. Us and the house.
The meetings were both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. Every time we turned a corner and pulled up front my heart would rise. Could this be it? Would I walk inside and just know?
Some encounters were just awful, maybe even a bit depressing. Was this the best we could get? I mean we’re not the hottest things on the market either, but didn’t we deserve a bit more?
Others went pretty well, they had great moments right beside a few painfully awkward ones. I loved its kitchen, its charming porch, but that obtuse floor plan, the meh finishes, and the repairs I could already hear adding up on some evil cashregister in my mind. Maybe we were just better as friends.
We got a little desperate and were thinking it was time to settle. I mean sure the floor plan was awkward, maybe there was asbestos in that ceiling and did we really need to live within walking distance of cafes, shops, venues, and parks? Okay the house was really small. As in built for people six inches shorter than us at least, but were we above crouching a little?
Then it came. A quick email. The house wasn’t even on the market, maybe it wasn’t even available. It wasn’t everything we wanted, it wasn’t perfect, but it was…right. That right you feel in your bones. We had. To. Have it.
Those weeks of courtship were heady with day dreams. So many happy thoughts and every meeting the feeling grew stronger and stronger. Only 800, okay 770, okay 750-square feet? I didn’t really need 1,000. A bedroom just (and I mean just) big enough for our bed and a cramped dresser? What do I need all that extra space for? I was in love and I couldn’t hear a negative thing about that little purple house. My house.
There were embarrassing drive-bys, stalkings of sort. I just wanted to see it one more time. I just wanted to casually walk down the street and maybe happen to glance at it. Casually, yeah that was it. Or maybe not. Maybe I had a few beers when I asked my husband to drive by again. Maybe I yelled out something out the car window about it being our house. Maybe.
And it wasn’t an easy courtship, it was the star-crossed kind. The kind where you are moments from belonging to each other when you are ripped apart. Someone else was telling us we couldn’t be together. We weren’t a good match. I hated them, I cursed their name, and then I pleaded aloud to anyone who would hear that they would just say yes.
Then, like magic it happened. It happened so fast we couldn’t believe it. All those papers to sign, all the boxes to pack, the new life to start. Before we knew it we were in. This wasn’t just infatuation, and it wasn’t just love. This was a relationship. A real estate marriage of sorts and the honeymoon phase wore off as it often does.
There were days that I locked myself in the bathroom and cried because I didn’t see how we would make it all work. Suddenly it was small (!!!) and old. That charming garden we swooned over was a burden, a horrible dare not to kill everything that had loving been planted. The wood floors we adored were found to slope a bit here and there, our furniture didn’t fit, and all the little things we couldn’t see started screaming at us.
I’ll admit that in my frustration and a badly timed heat wave I may have said some things about the house that I didn’t mean. Hurtful things I’d like to take back. Things that make me glad the creaking and groans are just the sounds of an old house and not of a house preparing a little revenge.
But what can I say, love does come through. Give it some time and some patience and there it is again. There it is at the end of the long day greeting you with warmth. There it is on a sunny weekend morning cradling you as you wake. There it is on a peaceful afternoon sharing many lovely, quiet moments with us. Things happen and we may have other homes in our life, but no other house love will be like this one. Our first house love.