Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's a House

When we started this home-buying adventure, we looked at a lot of funky houses, because they were in our price range. Most of them had memorable features, like a circular staircase (no, I can't go down that 3 or 4 times a night to get to the only bathroom!), or a steep driveway (it's icy here more months than not), or no driveway (just park down at Safeway and walk up the hill!?). One had a trap door in the deck. One had the only bathroom in between the bedrooms, no access from the living area. Some were in scary areas where the police would become your new best friend. One was next to an adult shop. One had extension cords coming out of windows and trailing to all the outbuildings. One had a circular couch sunk into the living room, perfect for drug parties, along with some interesting sky-lighted, growing rooms. Some had huge yards (we would need a goat) and some had no yard (hey, I can see from our bathroom window right into their kitchen).

And then we found "our" house. It had a picket fence with lilacs growing on it, a low-maintenance oasis in the back yard, and fun features in the house, like a rock fireplace. It was homey and had a view over the city and the mountain range. The neighborhood was quiet. But the bank turned it down because it needed too much fixing up of functional things like the roof and walls and floor. They just couldn't see the charm it oozed.

And they told me what kind of house they would finance. I knew immediately what houses those were; we had looked at them a few months earlier. They are new, and the builder was trying to short-sale them. But he wouldn't take less than $115k for them, and that was just out of our price range. Mostly, they are just squares, but one of them had a little charm - a kitchen window overlooking barns and fields, and a triangular back yard.

Garry looked around town for something else, but finally came back to those houses. The triangular one had been sold already. The builder had lost them to the bank, and they were in foreclosure. There were four squares left, and the cheapest one was at the top of our price range, $105k.

I pretty much shrugged and told him to do what he thought was best. I didn't even go look at it. He brought me papers on my lunch hour and I signed them in the car, putting an offer on the house. I knew - we're going to get this one. What I felt was resignation.

Throughout this process (and yes, we are buying that house), I have seen God work, and I have delighted in seeing His hand in this. I know it's where He wants us. There hasn't been a single glitch. It's been "ask and you will receive" at every corner. The realtor fixed two holes in the wall and found a free door handle to replace a broken one. When the stock market took a big dip, we locked in a low rate (4.375%). Even our insurance is cheaper than anyone thought possible, because we have been with Safeco for a long time and they gave us a great rate. This is the house God wants us in.

My head knows it well, and I am grateful. But at the same time, I am sad. There is no charm. It's just a bigger apartment. The vinyl siding will never need to be painted. The kitchen is laid out in a straight line, literally. Left to right, refrigerator, dishwasher, sink, stove. I am sure that a creative person would see it as a blank slate, ready for splashes of color and interesting features. Maybe one of them will help me.

The yard is a nice size, but absolutely barren, nothing but weeds and dirt. The kitchen window looks out at the sideyard and fence. Maybe I can get an ocean mural painted on the fence.

I'm sorry to complain. This house is exactly what we need. It's exactly a mile from Garry's school. It doesn't need repairs, except for the yard. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a two-car garage.

I pray that some day it will have some charm, and feel like home.


Helen Zimmer said...

Dearest Dawn,
I am happy for your new home! Dawn, you are the charm. You will be the warmth and all Gar needs to come home to his castle. I love you!

Christine said...

I hope that it will soon feel like home and that as you settle into it, you'll see little bits of charm you didn't even know were there.

p&k said...

I really like that what you're looking for in a house is the charm . . . (I'm with you on that--which is maybe why I've survived housing here so long! It's not the amenities!) . . . and I love that you can tell us both sides of the story: this is NOT what I would have hand-selected, but I'm confident that this is my house for this season. (Again, I'm feeling the TJ parallel: I'm drawn to hiking trails, and the coast and clean air, but here I am, a city-girl. And I know I'm supposed to be for now.)

Thanks for posting this--can't wait to see pics of the house once the charm moves in! (I like THAT perspective on charm, Helen. How true!)

Katie Coons said...

Been reading your blog with total understanding. Esp. the house part. (and, the anticipation of children part too, though in a different way). Here's what I've learned about living in the PNW in a house that will be torn down next year because it is SO bad!
1. If you have sunlight coming into your back yard-- huge bonus! You can definitely have a garden! And I'm seeing potential of flower boxes and shutters and a little trellace in that yard that could be super cute.
2. If the house is small and no major problems, another bonus-- easier to clean (especially with all that baby stuff) and keeps the clutter at bay since you don't have rooms and rooms to fill it with.
3. If it's yours.. you can paint the INSIDE. You can nail pictures into the walls, you can add shelves, new wood, or carpet floors etc. (been watching lots of home improvement contest shows lately) Owning a home- I've never experienced it but am looking forward to the day when I no longer "make do" but can build it the way I want it to be.

Enjoy your place, hey, maybe well be in WA one of these days and get to see it!


Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn, I know letting go of the dream house is hard, and I am so glad to see you have chosen to be content. I know Helen is absolutely right - you will make it wonderful! Remember how basic your Arlington house was? And remember all the memories made there? It will be the same with this little house! It has just been waiting for your special famly to fill it's rooms with love & laughter! Can't wait to see you in it! Love you so much!! Janet
PS I may just have to come down for a visit and help you decorate! We can do our do our"shopping magic" like in the good old days!