The Hunt

The first weekend of househunting left me slack-jawed at Boston-area home prices.  Over a million for houses that hadn't been updated since the mid-1970s, or for homes that had been redone, but in the worst possible way.  Some homes with no yard, or no garage (this ain't Florida--or even D.C.  I want a garage).  One pricey beauty backed up to the Turnpike and had a karate studio instead of a dining room. 

The second weekend of househunting, I realized I wasn't in Kansas (DC or Chicago) anymore.  Walking downstairs to check out the basement of a house that didn't suit us but that didn't have any other obvious problems, I asked, "Any disclosures?"

"No," the seller's agent replied.  "It's in perfect shape!"  She flipped on the light, and I found myself face to face with a giant rock fully occupying one third of the basement.  Apparently, I needed to add "no basement boulders" to my list of non-negotiables--turns out they're not uncommon in old New England cellars, but I'm reluctant to take out a mortgage to house one.

I don't even know what week of househunting we're currently on.  A couple days ago, I was engaged in my usual addiction hobby of updating the Redfin page on my browser and willing the perfect house into existence when it worked!  The perfect house appeared!  I knew the location; I knew the house; I knew I wanted it.  I knew it would be a gut-job, so nothing short of it being a haunted Superfund site would deter me.  At 11:15 p.m., the seller's agent (who had ignored our agent's calls) said we could see the property the next day, but that we had to be prepared to move fast as they were working with someone who was interested.  I convinced Greg that our tortured search had led us to this shining moment, and, at 2:00 a.m. we submitted a very strong offer on that house--sight unseen.  I imagined laughing over the story at the dinner parties we would have in our beautiful, late-19th century dining room.  My dream burst the next morning when we learned that they'd accepted the other peoples' offer at an unspecified time. . .  It was all very sketchy.  I'm sure they used our offer to get the other people up higher--other people whom, as it happens, were working with a broker in the same office as the seller.  I felt an Incredible Hulk-like rage.  I swore a lot, and threatened to rip the face off the seller's realtor, and was starting to turn a delicate shade of green when I realized that Buzzy and Rosie were listening, so I tried to calm down.  After a day of pretending to be over it, I'm finally actually over it.  (And the kids seem to be more responsive than usual, so that's a plus).

The search continues.  Our house is out there.  I hear there's a lovely one that recently came down in price, and it even has a karate studio on the premises.   

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

We came to DC as a temporary compromise between my hometown of Chicago and his hometown of Boston.  As the years passed (or, in DC-speak, as administrations came and went), we found lifetime friends, bought a condo, and adopted a cat.  We planted flower boxes full of geraniums.   We fell in love with our friends' babies.  Then we bought a house.  We grew leggy tomatoes.  We had a baby of our own, and I navigated those foggy first months of motherhood with my new mommy friends.  We found babysitters and preschools, and then we decided to have another baby.  We planted sunflowers, put in a strawberry bed, and airily dispensed advice about local restaurants and mortgage brokers and plumbers. 

Though I joked about whether the girls would eventually cheer for the Cubs or the Red Sox (and secretly coached them to "Root, root, root for the CUBBIES"), my roots grew deep here.  I started to say we'd be in DC forever, duking it out.  Greg, working long hours and struggling to get home to see the children before their bedtime, was less personally established even as his career took off.  So he was receptive when a headhunter called him about a great-sounding opportunity in Boston.  Several months and interviews later, Greg grew excited about the possibility of moving.  Sad though I was that I/Chicago didn't win out in the end, I agreed the new job made sense on paper.  We have good friends in Boston and tons of family.  We didn't like flying back and forth for every family event on both sides, and both of us wanted Greg to have a better work/life balance.  (Or a work/life balance.  Or at least, to be at a place that acknowledged the life part of the equation.) 

After much agony and gnashing of teeth, Greg finally gave his notice today.  There's a "For Sale" sign in our front yard.  Yet I can't quite grasp what's coming.  I mark the girls' growth against milestones embedded here.  "There's the slide that Rosie couldn't climb last year."  "This is the same table where Buzzy had her first ice cream (technically, frozen custard) cone at the Dairy Godmother!"  The usually taciturn cashiers at Whole Foods gushed over both of my flaxen-haired babies.  Today, they gravely conversed with my big girls about the free samples.  The girls, too, have staked claims: "That's the park where Ryker fell through the tire swing!"  "Dat's where da Lincoln Memowial is!  I wan' climb steps!"  "I see the Washington Monument!  Are we by Daddy's office?"  "I wan' GO IN 'Bama's White House."

Driving down the Mall yesterday on the way home from our dear friend's house on Capitol Hill, I was sure that were completely crazy to leave this accessible children's paradise.  There's the Botanical Gardens, where we visit the trains every Christmas and like to pop in to see the orchids.  There's the Smithsonian carousel.  There's Natural History, where we can visit and have it to ourselves.  And, further along is the Zoo, where we say "pooh-pooh" to the tigers, just like Madeline. 

Will they remember any of this?  Will I, when I don't walk by the memories every day?  (I haven't gotten a lot of sleep over the past four and a half years, so I worry about my memory.)

Buzzy, for one, can't wait to go.  Thanks to the Berenstain Bears' Moving Day book and the promise of living closer to her cousins, Buzzy's eagerness to move makes me wonder if the child has an attachment disorder.  Though we haven't found the perfect house yet, I do know that we will relocate some time this summer.  So please let me know if you have a great house for sale in the Boston area.  Or if you know someone who wants to buy a great house in DC.  Or even if you have a great recommendation for an adult version of the Berenstain Bears.