In Escrow

mood: overjoyed | drinking: raspberry tea
housefront1

There’s a funny thing about tunnels and the lights that sometimes appear at the end of them…

When there is no end in sight, you feel as if the state of limbo, of darkness, of uncertainty will stretch on and on and on into infinity. You begin to feel like you’ve been there for so long, you can’t remember what it is to live any other way.

And then, suddenly, light! And though you’re still within the tunnel, though you still haven’t reached the end, everything has miraculously changed. Suddenly you are certain that the end is, blessedly, near. And somehow you find yourself laughing at things (*cough* drunk frat boys outside my window at 3 a.m. *cough*) that, a week ago, made you feel like turning into a cutter.

All of that to say this: After 4 months, 134 houses, and 15 offers, the search is over. We’ve got a house.

Or, more accurately, we are in escrow. Apartment living shall continue for the near future. Keys to our adorable new house are not yet in hand. But there is suddenly an expiration date on Limboland, and that changes absolutely everything.

There were 7 other offers on this house, as is common in San Francisco surreal estate. But this time, finally, we were the ones who came out on top, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our most fabulous realtor, Jennifer Rosdail. And also to a letter I wrote to tell the sellers why Boy and I would make such wonderful buyers.

Turns out that sometimes people really do care about who buys their house, not just who has the most cash.

Our new home will be just a couple of blocks from the beach–you can hear the thunder of the Pacific Ocean when the windows are open. We’re also pretty close to Golden Gate Park, one of my most favorite places ever. So we’re pretty pleased about that.

The house isn’t huge, but it does have an extra bedroom, a nice garage for Boy and a big huge backyard for LeeLoo. It was built in 1939 and the previous owner bought it brand new. She took very good care of it, leaving the original details intact, so it’s a very charming little place with hardwood floors and sweet little alcoves.

We’re pretty much in love. (And one of us may have been overtaken by the repeated and spontaneous desire to do some booty-shaking in celebration, much to LeeLoo’s confusion.)

One of the things Boy and I kept telling each other throughout the last few months was that we couldn’t settle. We couldn’t just pick a house to have a house and be done with it. We had to end up with a house that made the whole ordeal worthwhile. We had to choose a house that we loved, that could become a home. A place that we could see ourselves in for years to come.

We feel like we’ve found it. And in about 30-ish days, it will truly be ours.

So here’s to lights and ends and certainty. A new adventure begins…

-Lo, in escrow.

Home Is Where

mood: deflated | drinking: daily teapalmyra_porch

I have learned a few things in the three weeks since we sold our house.

1: I am not good at being displaced. 2: I still do not find anything charming about drunk college boys cavorting beneath my window at 2 a.m. 3: Home is not the place where all your stuff is. That’s just where you live. Home is something altogether different…

Where the heart is. Where you belong. Where you feel safe. Where you go to get away. Where you long to be in the middle of a stress-filled day.

And while Boy and I continue our long and arduous search for the place we will eventually call home, I find myself getting a bit frayed around the edges. The lack of home is much harder than I imagined it would be.

I thought apartment living would be a lark. Like playing house.

It’s not.

Apartment living reminds me of all the things that I miss about having a home. And they’re not things, really. Because I have all my things, stacked in boxes all around me. What I don’t have is the feeling of belonging in the space that I inhabit.

What I don’t have, at night, after a never-ending day of deadlines and demands and divas, is a refuge.

Although that’s not true, entirely. I have Boy. I have LeeLoo, even (who hates apartment living as much as Boy and I do).

Here’s the thing I never realized until now, though… Growing up, I had a home. 497 Palmyra Road. That was where I belonged. And then I got older and I went away to college and I got a degree and then a job and then a succession of apartments and roommates and temporary living arrangements.

And then I met Boy and we had our own apartments and rental houses, and they were better. They were homier. And then, five years ago, we bought a place of our own. We settled in. We nested. We chose paint colors and carpets and dishes and drapes. We turned that place into a home. It was the first time in my adult life I felt like I had a place to go to, in a very specific sense, that was my home.

I didn’t realize until now how much that meant to me.

On better days I tell myself, or Boy, or both of us tell each other: “We will find a home. Soon. And it will make all of this worthwhile.” And I believe it.

Today is not a better day. Today is the end of a very long week in which I’ve wobbled along, hanging onto shreds of my former bouncy optimism. Today is another day in which I go to the place where my stuff is, the place where my mail is delivered, the place where I lay my head, and feel the lack.

I feel guilty, too, for complaining. What about the homeless, I think. What about all those who live in apartments like this and have no alternative, no other home on the horizon, I think. I have so much to be grateful for, I think.

And it’s all true.

But this is my reality, and it is true as well. And today is just… not a better day.

Maybe tomorrow will be.

-Lo, searching and searching and searching.

Behind Door #1

Mood: sneezy | Drinking: for medicinal purposes only

door

It begins with the door. Always.

This is the rule I’ve learned over 11 weeks and 82 houses. The door is where it all begins.

Because you can never tell by standing on the street, you can never know just by staring at the facade. Anything could be behind that door. Anything is behind that door.

And once you push it open and step inside, that’s where the fun (and sometimes the horror) begins. That’s when you really begin to know what you’re dealing with. That’s when you’re finally able to see if you fit, if this house is one that you could turn into your home.

Sometimes you walk through the door, say “Oh, hell no!” and turn around and walk right back out. Sometimes you walk in, fall in love, and then realize you can’t afford something this amazing, not yet. And sometimes you push open that door and stay for awhile, thinking, “Hmmmm, yeah. Okay. I can see how this would work.”

Of course, just because you like what’s behind the door doesn’t mean you can actually have it.

Boy and I have been house-hunting for a good long time now. We know what we’re looking for. We know what we’re up against. And we feel like finally, after 82 houses, we’re getting close. (I’m hoping that’s not just the desperation talking.)

As I’ve explained in previous posts, San Francisco is not your average real estate market. Unless you have a gazillion zeros after the number on your bank statement, you can’t just walk right and in find something you like and say, “I’ll take it!”. You have to fight it out, battling through bidding wars between 12, 14, or 25 other sweaty buyers.

Everybody’s out there scrambling for their piece of the American pie right now, and they’re getting a bit vicious about it.

That’s why we’ve put ourselves on a two week break. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, for the first time in months, I’m sitting on my couch with the sleeping Loondog next to me, windows wide open, clicking away on my laptop instead of queuing up for yet another frantic afternoon of open houses.

We’re only a few weeks away from closing on our own house with our lovely buyer, so we decided to take a step back and settle down and let the contingencies fall off before we jump back into the fray. Isn’t that when big things start to happen, anyway–when you decide to let them go? That’s what my mom says.

In spite of the self-imposed ban from the MLS listings, I seem to be unable to get houses off the brain. So I sit here and ruminate about doorways, about how you often step through them without knowing.

Did I know, when I walked into the hallway of our current home, that it was the one? No. Just as I didn’t know when I met Boy for the first time that he was the one. But then, I’m not a big believer in “the one”. I prefer the school of thought of multiple possibilities.

I don’t believe that there’s one right house out there for us, or one right partner, or one right destiny. There are so many doors we could walk through, and so many choices that lead us to those doors. Combine a few factors in just a couple of new configurations and you’ve got a whole different universe of potential.

I do believe in fate. I do believe that some things are meant to be. But it’s not a storybook or a rom com. It doesn’t usually (or ever) happen the way you think it should.

So I’m trying not to read into the fact that our realtor called us yesterday a.m. at an obscenely early hour for a Saturday and got us out of bed and across town to see a tiny orange house that could (or could not) be the one.

I’m trying not to get all portentous about the fact that the series of events that led to her phone call were out of the ordinary, to say the least.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up that maybe all the right stars are aligning this time and after 7 (yes, seven) missed chances, the 8th time might be the charm.

Or, you know, not.

But I would like to point out that this particular door I’m standing in front of now features a very handsome lion door knocker. And if we get this house, I’m totally naming him Aslan.

-Lo, who’s afraid that her cold medicine might be showing in all this rambling.

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