There’s No Place Like HouseBy Rachel Zients Schinderman
May 17, 2010
I am in a bit of a mood. Or as my husband calls it – I am having a time. I have suddenly gotten quite cross with him, giving looks and huffing noticeably. The problem, though, has nothing to do with him.
It’s Sunday, which means it is Open House Day. Open House Day usually starts out with such high hopes for me, girly anticipation of new and better closets and wonders to discover behind each welcome mat. But after searching for a house to buy for almost three years now (three years!!), you would think that I would not be so Pollyanna about it, not so hopeful, not starting the day at such a high, so as to be not so crushed by the end of it. And the reason I think I get so irritated by my husband is that he starts the process off rather realistic, borderline pessimistic, so he is never as disappointed by it all as I am. He recovers quickly. And that irks me.
I really want a house with great outdoor design – home numbers and letters. I really want a yard where I can throw my son a big birthday party. The mom in me wants to buy curtains and keep a tidy home that is ours, that will serve as the other character in the stories of our children’s childhood.
I grew up in an apartment building in New York City. I loved it. I rode my bike though our hallways and went on adventures up and down our elevator. I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know that children played outside until their parents called them in. And now that I know it, I want it. It seems so adult. It’s the thing to do. I think the truth is, my son might not know anything different, just like me on West End Ave, where fun was when the mailman let me help him. But if I’m honest, I want a yard for the ease of having my son just run around in the back so I know exactly where he is and don’t have to schlep him to the park constantly. I want laundry at my fingertips, not down a flight of stairs and a pocket full of quarters. I want to paint a room or scratch a floor and not worry what someone else might say. In short, I want to be a grown up.
And though I am desperate to move, I actually love our neighborhood and love where we live. I love that there is a park down the street, Whole Foods around the corner. I love my son’s school and Brian and his crew at N.Y. Bagel Deli. I love that when I walk into to the dry cleaners, I don’t have to give my name. I even love our rental apartment that I so desperately want to shed. In short, I feel a part of this community, but I am willing to leave it to have a house. (But within reason, this is why we have not fled for the cheaper suburbs. We want what we want but in the areas we want. Is that actually soooo much to ask? Perhaps it is. Sigh.)
The first house we bid on and didn’t get, felt like we proposed with too puny a ring. I remember driving by it, like stalking an old boyfriend, tears in my eyes, slumped at the wheel, wondering if it knew that I truly loved it more and that it should have picked me. I even imagined a scheme where my husband, an Executive Recruiter, would find the new owner of the house of a fabulous job, in let’s say Seattle, and we’d swoop in, ready to take the house off their hands. But eventually I moved on and we got involved with several others who broke our hearts as well, like the private sale where we were told it was ours if we wanted it and we weren’t even sure we wanted it, but like the charming guy who woos you into bed with promises that you are made for each other, we bid. Then the sellers changed their minds, and it kind of felt like they went back to their wife. There were a few others where we were again outbid, including one where they tore the whole thing down and started over and I mourned for my little house that wasn’t.
And then we actually got a house. We were the ones breaking everyone’s hearts. We were the ones the other bidders were cursing. We’d won.
And after all of that, we changed our minds. It needed more work than we originally thought, like we’d met the perfect guy but his plumbing didn’t work.
I know I am more desperate for a move because I am pregnant and nesting is taking over for me. I am suddenly consumed by the mess in our garage or finding the perfect bookshelf to handle all the toys and books. But I don’t want to buy new things yet because they may not fit in the mythical house we may buy – perhaps even this coming Sunday – and so my world feels a little topsy turvy.
Having a house means being a grown up to me, but perhaps the adult thing to do would be to realize we are in a good place and in no rush (my husband’s point of view, urgh) and to calm down just a tad.
But I know that next Sunday will arrive, and I will continue to search for our one true love, all the while trying not to annoy my actual one true love.
Oh, I felt this!
There is something so wonderful about owning your own home. When I bought mine, I felt so grown up and so centered. I remember thinking like you – “I can paint the walls ANY colour I like!” “I can put thumb tacks on the doors – it’s mine! All mine!”
Congratulations on the pregnancy and I’m sending all my best thoughts for the perfect home to come to you.
I know an architect who talks about how important form is – and I’d never realised before just how much design plays such a part in experiencing a place. She talked about how corporate offices can be designed to be very iconographic, to intimidate and impress, whereas homes should be more welcoming, more restful places.
The right place makes such a difference. Here’s hoping you find yours, Rachel.
There’s nothing more stressful than buying a house (well, maybe there are more stressful things…) but it can so bring out the worst in people. I remember when we were buying the house we’re in now, and it looked like we were going to be about $10K short, and in my mind all I could see was the house slip, sliding away. I rang my brother in the hope he’d have $10K stashed away that he was willing to lend…but of course he didn’t, and I knew he didn’t, so why I asked him, I’m not sure. But that didn’t stop me from going into a big huff and a sulk and throwing a hissy fit…! I couldn’t believe that i acted that way – all over a house! Anyway I did apologise, and we did get the house – and I really hope you too will get the house/home you so obviously are yearning for.
I did enjoy reading about your childhood spent in an apartment. Now I’d have loved that!
Good luck, Rachel.
I’m kind of the opposite of you. I grew up in a house out in the suburbs, with a big back yard and a pool–and after I turned 9, the job of maintaining said yard fell squarely on my shoulders. Every Saturday for ten years I raked, mowed, swept, trimmed, pruned, skimmed, chlorinated and weed-whacked. And grew to hate yard work with a ferocious passion. I’m utterly content living in an apartment now…though, of course, that may well change when/if I marry and have kids.
This was great, Rachel. If you’d like, I can email you every Saturday night with tales – lies, if need be – about which nightmare of home ownership is currently afflicting me to brace you against potential disappointment. But there is something stirring about saying “mine” – my home, my yard, my field of #$%# dandelions taking over all the frigging sod.
That was a freebie for this coming weekend, btw.
Best of luck on the hunt and, by all means, hold out for what you want.
‘I am having a time.’
heh. that’s a great line. i may have to steal it.
you know when i graduated from UNLV and started teaching i was consumed by buying a house. i was a NEST! like you, i didn’t want to hassle a scratched floor, etc. i wanted a garden to grow jalapenos, firewitch dianthus (sp?), etc. i understand where you’re coming from. totally. i think many folk can. anyhow, nice write. honest. good luck out there. three years is a long time. hopefully you’ll never hit your fifth year, eh? okay, rachel, take care.
Rachel, I completely enjoyed this! Your descrip of where you grew up and your imaginings of having a house for the backyard for your kid as well as doing whatever you want with it. And you’ve got that little humor thing going on, too: “It needed more work than we originally thought, like we’d met the perfect guy but his plumbing didn’t work.” 😉
And: “Then the sellers changed their minds, and it kind of felt like they went back to their wife. Then the sellers changed their minds, and it kind of felt like they went back to their wife.”
You also do poignant, gentle-loving poignant: “There were a few others where we were again outbid, including one where they tore the whole thing down and started over and I mourned for my little house that wasn’t.”
Anon’s right: “hold out for what you want.”
The similarities of buying a house and choosing a partner are significant. It’s love at first sight……with all the mix n match of reasons and logic screeching on your hard drive until it’s so hot you have to wear oven mitts.
Go get it, Tiger! It’s waiting for you.
Yeah, stress. Like the time I was getting divorced and thought I’d bought a house, only a week before closing the asshole revealed that there were huge liens on the house, so that fell through, and I had already agreed to be out of the house I owned with my ex-to-be about 60 days after the crashed deal.
I scurried. I got lucky. I had cash. I found a house I liked and I made it out with about a week to spare.
My agent about crapped her pants when, after looking at the house for an hour, I said to the selling agent, “Expect a full-price cash offer this afternoon or tomorrow.”
Sometimes you dicker, sometimes you don’t.
Oohhhhhhhh yeah. I feel you. It is so emotionally exhausting to mentally move in to five different places every weekend and feel totally done with your rental and then go back home to the rental and convince yourself it’s okay and…yeah. Good luck!!
Just a little update to all of those who took the time to comment about my house desires…we closed on our new house last week!!! Got the word from our realtor that our bid was accepted as I was being wheeled in to deliver my son…