Given our largely improvisational, seat-of-the-pants approach to existence, Michael and I are surprisingly skilled at planning things: fun crap like parties and vacations, long-term projects like getting Amazon to throw some partner benefits my way, even bonerkillers like how to pay for large unexpected expenses. (And yes, Moses, I am looking at your bionic knee, because that $4K would’ve bought one badass jacuzzi, which I almost never visualize Mike and I luxuriating in, flush-skinned and sipping umbrella drinks, an iPod in its built-in docking station rocking some Mark Ronson through surround-sound speakers and the waterfall set to “Maui,” because that means you’d be thoroughly harshing our mellow what with your HOBBLING AROUND US.)
Ahem. So as needed, we’ve shown “proven results” in “successfully implementing and executing multi-tiered planning initiatives,” while otherwise just making the shit up as we go along. Despite this, three of our Major Life Events did not enjoy the benefits of planning, and two of those now expect “food” and “love” and “college funds.”
The third thing we really should have planned? Meeting a good five or ten years earlier, immediately confirming our junk compatibility, then DIVING FACE-FIRST INTO A MORTGAGE. Because back in those days, you could actually afford a house in Seattle, one that didn’t necessarily boast amenities like new axles and a tow hitch.
Whereas today, as the rest of the country scrapes off its burst-bubble goo, Seattle and its stubbornly solid economy continue to defy trends and flabbergast first-time home buyers. As this recent Seattle Times piece notes,
After being essentially flat since November, King County’s house prices actually ticked up $10,000 from February to $439,900.
As we have since first coming up the stick, Michael and I rent. It’s a sweet little house in a swell neighborhood, we couldn’t have a better landlord, and he’s happy to keep us leasing for years. Also, he’s happy if we opt to buy it. Which at current market prices, would make this modest Ballard post-war chateau ours for a little bit more than King County’s median home price.
Now, I might subscribe to Vogue, but much as Anna Wintour prattles on about “investment value,” I don’t consider it reasonable to drop a few grand on a handbag. Also unreasonable? This house — a house that, given the size of its kitchen and closets, was obviously built for anorexic nudists — being worth A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS. I dunno, but for that kinda cash, I at least want a drive-encircled fountain. Or some Trump-grade gilding. Or — wait, scratch everything else: an infinity pool with swim-up bar.
Also? If I’m dithering away a developing country’s GNP on real estate, I’m pretty sure I don’t want Google Earth to represent my nabe with this:
I’m not sure if this house actually shelters real people or simply exists to CREEP US ALL THE FUCK OUT, but yes, those front windows are stuffed with disturbing porcelain-doll vignettes. Let’s go to the close-up:
It’s Ballard, so this could evidence a more radical branch of feng shui wherein you repel negative energy by making it crap its pants on the sidewalk. Just to be sure, let’s see what’s beaming from the dormer window:
It’s Christmas every day in Heaven! And now, back to our post…
I’ve always had commitment issues, and not least of all with home ownership, because while you can always quit a crap job or man, a house is the kind of albatross that chains your historically ramblin’ ass to a specific fraction of soil forever. (Or at least until you sell, and hey, good luck in this market.) But that was before love and babies and “expectations” to be a “grown-up,” and before you know it, you’re thumbing a Pottery Barn catalog and thinking, “But our 30-year burden will be modern-rustic. And monogrammed!”
So it’s unexpected that Mike and I now spend a lot of time happily discussing our renter’s status. While friends with ballooning ARM mortgages or exploding hot water heaters bemoan their outlays, we enjoy a no-surprises lease that — at HALF the monthly cost of owning this house — gives us the freedom to do more than… just own a house. (And allows me to raise babies full-time without adjusting the monthly budget per Plasma Center rates and blow-job futures.)
In the meantime, Mike does his daily market pulse-taking, and I stalk the nabe with a stroller or dog and think about the kind of house we’ll eventually buy once the irrational exuberance realizes it has a problem and checks into Promises Malibu. These days, I’m deeply keen on this one:
The sweeping roofline, copious windows, industrial-grade aluminum transposed against traditional elements (brick fireplace, wood trellis-work) — lovelovelove. In this house, we would live lives of art, passion, and meaning, and no one would ever need a time-out or a good poke in the head, and our teeth would be abnormally white. (Michael, however, finds this one “too out of character for the block.” That’s like blaming JT for rising above the N*SYNCers whose names no one even remembers, because unfortunate proximity to lameness should not make us hate on TOTAL AWESOMENESS.)
Which is not to say this deeply traditional Arts & Crafts abode isn’t also appealing.
The stonework is a gorgeous accent, and I’ve got a serious weak spot for that tree. But more important, this baby’s HUGE, and there really is nothing more important to a growing family. (Because one day soon, Michael will hear The Call, and when he does I will not be caught without space for my sister-wives.)