Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Buying Reality

I thought that buying a house would be more fun.

In my mind, it would be like having a new baby -- lots of excitement and hoping and planning and dreaming.

Instead I just feel fatter and less smart and I'm tired and kind of grouchy, so it is kind of like having a baby after all.

Mr. Ashley is obsessed with watching Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and other real estate reality shows on Netflix and when I'm not making fun of him for that, I'm making fun of the buyers who CANNOT POSSIBLY SURVIVE without a huge dining room because they entertain all of the time or the people who might faint dead away at the site of laminate countertops.

I thought that I had more reasonable expectations. My only parameters were that it had to have two bedrooms, room for my dining room table (I don't even need a dining room, but I'm emotionally attached to my farmhouse table, okay?) and no farther from the beach than I am now.

That last part was hard because I'm only two miles from the beach. This left me with a very small and often questionable strip of neighborhoods to search. I knew I'd end up in a tiny old house that needed a lot of work but I live in one now and I'm a survivor like that so I was looking forward to my fate. I started watching Fixer Upper with a new begrudging appreciation.

(How does she just put weird shit on walls and it looks okay? If I did it I'm pretty sure it would seem like I put some tractor parts on a wall or whatever, and not look okay.)

Not long into the search, Big Kid protested for a third bedroom. It was a reasonable request from a 12-year-old who has been sharing a room for far too long. So we added another bedroom to the wish list.

little kid wanted a neighborhood with kids. We have 10 kids on our little corner of the street --  a roaming scooter gang having the best of childhoods. Also a reasonable request, but we made no promises.

We drove up and down every street in my designated area searching for options and the whole car was quiet. As we passed a row of duplexes with some people sitting out front on plastic chairs with a case of beer at their feet on a Saturday morning, little kid said, "This reminds me of...what's the word?" He thought earnestly for a moment as we waited. "...the apocalypse?"

As they say, children, drunk people, and leggings always tell the truth. So I gave up on my area and widened the search.

The house we have under contract is in a very family-friendly community with sidewalks and streetlights and a playground. It has three bedrooms. There's not really room for my dining room table but maybe Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper will come rip out some walls (and, I mean, maybe she'll come willingly. I wouldn't kidnap her. I haven't been thinking about ways to do that because that's illegal and I'd get caught. And it's not right to do. And how would someone even do that? I mean, if someone was going to do that, how could they pull that off without getting caught? And then make her realize she wants to be friends? Hypothetically, of course.)

 Or we can eat on tray tables.

But I can assure you that buying a house is way more fun on television, and not having a dining room does kind of hurt.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A New Nest

As some of you know, I live in a weird little house. Mr. Ashley hated it at first. He initially refused to even look a second time and couldn't stop talking about how bad it smelled. It was old, had a bizarre exterior, only two bedrooms, a weird tiny corner kitchen sink, and enormous trees whose roots were cracking the driveway, foundation, and ceiling.

I loved it. The two bedrooms were set up as masters, it had a ton of natural light, it was only two miles from the beach, its weirdness was an ode to Florida's history, the Banyan trees are a treasure, and it was the cheapest rental in the best school district.

I won, of course.

We dubbed it the Ugly Seagull like a proper beach house with a name and made it our own, making it as cute as can be until we gradually began calling it the Quirky Seagull because we no longer thought it was ugly.

And the weird little house became a part of our lives. The trees became part of the family, their roots snaking into the plumbing and the cracks widening, always dropping tree junk in the driveway. It was an annoyance but we all lived together mostly peacefully, with a few visits from plumbers to help mediate the situation.

Sometimes well-meaning people would ask when we were planning to buy a home and I would tell them that we weren't -- that I wasn't interested in the commitment or the ridiculous pricing of our area and that I liked our home and situation. Our landlord had owned it for a long time, and owned it outright. He seemed firmly established in the area. I thought maybe we'd be lucky enough to live in the Ugly Seagull until the trees finally won; that one day in my old age, I'd be stepping over the roots growing through the living room floor but I still wouldn't mind because beautiful beach sunsets were a 5 minute drive away.

I knew Mr. Ashley would never go for it but I entertained the idea of buying this house if the opportunity ever arose, foolishly accepting its eventual fate as a tree house.

And then, four days before Christmas (what the fuck, landlord?), we found out that the Ugly Seagull was up for sale -- most likely as a tear down, at a price we cannot afford.

Four days before Christmas aside (what the fuck, landlord?), I was mostly upset at the thought that someone would tear it down, this perfectly lovely weird little house. Then I took a look at the rental market and was mostly upset at the thought of being homeless. A mortgage payment would be less, even with the absurd housing values.

I thought long and hard about leaving our area for somewhere with a lower cost of living but I love it with a weird intensity. I feel so blessed to feel gratitude about where I live. I feel a thrill each and every time I step onto the same beach I've always known. Maybe I could experience more traditional success elsewhere, but I feel like I won the geographical lottery here.

And that's how we might have accidentally bought a house. I'm not getting my hopes up until someone hands us the keys, because I'm pretty sure someone will figure out that we're adult imposters and put a stop to all of this. We meant to buy a house in a few months, but the real estate market here (in my price range) feels like running into traffic blindly -- there's no great time to do it, but if you see an opportunity you have to act fast.

The other day I was sitting on the floor of the shower, happy about the possibility of the new house but mourning the potential loss of the Ugly Seagull and a little irritated at the universe for bossing me around, when I heard the toilet gurgle; a tell-tale sign that the roots are reminding us of their presence.

And I laughed.

Maybe it's time to let the land have the house and for us to move on.

To something with three bedrooms, a pool, and proper storage space.