The Hunt Begins

After the previous two week debacle with our first realtor, things have finally picked up on the house hunting front. As in, our new realtor actually keeps his appointments to show houses. It’s a minor miracle.

I truly, sincerely, profoundly wish we’d brought our cameras to the first one.

It was amazing.

And when I say amazing, I don’t mean in the “amazing grace how sweet the sound” kind of way. I mean amazing in the kind of juvenile Armstrong “it’s so unbelievably bad I cannot WAIT to share” sense.

To its credit, the listing did try to warn us. “Needs total rehab” and “bring flashlight” are not common phrases on real estate listings, where microscopic is generally called “cosy” and a torn out kitchen is referred to as an “opportunity to update.”

We knew it would be bad, but we couldn’t stay away. The location was perfect—about a mile from downtown—on a grassy, quiet street. Lots of space between houses. All the homes looked nice. The price was comfortably in our range. So, yes, we knew it would be bad. But we were curious. Was it bad like you could repair stuff as you went along, or bad like you’d have to spend $30,000 before you set foot in it?

The listing warned us not to go in the front door, so we went in the back.

It looked like an abandoned house. One of those creepy ones in film.

Everything was original to the 1930s. The kitchen sink looked like a barn sink. The cupboards were falling apart. A drift of mail had settled onto the kitchen counter, all postmarked from the ’30s.

Carl and I exchanged glances. We’re not usually thieves, but if the realtor hadn’t been there, I would probably have succumbed. I mean, if whoever those letters were addressed to had wanted them she would’ve checked her mail sometime in the last century, right?

Sigh.

We didn’t. We left them.

And went into the front room, where we discovered why the front door was inoperable. The inside ceiling and wall had fallen away in a kind of deconstructed still life.

“So…” I said, “given the price….”

“Yes,” the realtor said. “It’s a bit overpriced. The lot is probably worth $40,000. And the house is almost a tear down.”

On the plus side, it was huge and endearingly quirky in the way old houses can be. The second floor landing opened into a tiny reading room. The bedrooms were large with sloping cottage ceilings. Not necessarily a plus, those ceilings, but definitely full of character. There were some closets, but mostly there were cupboards built into the walls.

If we were builders and could get it for $60,000 (well, and not worried about it collapsing in the meantime), we would have been sold.

Then we went to the basement.

Later, driving to the next listing, we discussed the basement. I said it had to have been done by kids. Neighborhood kids who must’ve broken in and thought it would be funny to creep people out. Carl remained noncommittal.

The basement had a couple of cinder block rooms. One of them was a workroom with a long, scarred table lined with rusting, ancient cans of chemicals and a canning jar with some kind of rust-colored liquid and something moldy floating inside. A large carving knife lay in front. Next to an open book of human anatomy.

Not kidding.

We laughed uncomfortably, but the appeal was sort of gone after that, you know?

The second house was basically a study in contrast. Small and compact, all one floor, new roof and appliances included, occupied most recently by humans. A solid, cosy, first time home kind of place. Perfect for a young, asocial family of three. Less perfect if said family decides to multiply to four or five and develop a mad passion for having guests stay the night. Because while there was technically a third bedroom, I’m not by any means convinced a bed would actually fit in it. Desk, maybe. Bed, no.

A home to like and maybe someday to love, but not a home that makes you say wow, we are the luckiest people in the world to find this fantastic home for this unbelievable price!! Not that those places actually exist outside of HGTV.

But good points of reference as we keep sorting through listings and trying to figure out what matters most.

My brain is apparently working overtime to process all the life changes going on. Last night I dreamed our baby turned out to be a small, pinkish-white and very active piglet. Yes, complete with a snout that I kept staring at and wondering whether it was possible anyone could actually “grow into” a nose like that (and no, I never saw the movie Penelope, so I have no idea where this dream came from). Anyway, I was determined to love and look after our porcine blessing like a good parent and was FURIOUS when Carl objected to the fact that I had filled in 4/5 of our pool with concrete and wanted to set up a baby gate around the rest (a narrow ribbon of water next to Carl’s side of the bed. So, yes, to recap: I filled in an indoor pool and turned the room into a bedroom).

Carl thought the baby gate was really too much.

I began screaming at him in righteous fury. “I will NOT come home to a dead baby!”

Which is awesome for so many reasons, not least among them that I have never screamed at Carl in my entire life, and my baby is a pig, and I had single-handedly filled a pool with concrete.

All of which goes to show, I think, that not only will I be an awesome mother, but my home decorating skills are pretty much the bomb.

I’ve got this homemaker thing in the bag.

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6 thoughts on “The Hunt Begins

  1. B and I were both reading this at the same time– he on his I-pod and me on the computer. We were cracking up because we have been there. The Silence of the Lambs basements are all too familiar to us, but I think your basement story trumps all. The anatomy book puts it over the edge. Has the house actually been abandoned since the 1930’s? So cool about the mail.

  2. That house sounds incredible! I totally wish I could have come along. Reminds me a bit of the houses my parents bought and are renovating. They found old love letters.

    And your pregnancy dream is hilarious! Good for you for writing it down!

  3. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Not so much the housing issues, because I’m praying for a JEWEL of a home in a safe neighborhood and just sigh when the real stories float by. But…your dream…well that’s one for Jonathan to interpret. I know you’re going to be a great mom, but defending a pig is perfect! Aaron was born with so much bruising and head molding that he looked rather like a battered alien, but it brought out the most incredible mothering instinct, and I knew on the spot that I would LEVEL anybody who made fun of him or hurt his feelings. I was totally amazed when he cleared up and looked like a normal, adorable baby in a matter of days. So, no matter what, piglet is going to be spectacularly loved and cared for!

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