Moving: Living Well Within Our Means

06.21.10

This morning I looked at a house. Tomorrow morning Mr. G. will tour the very same house. We will likely make an offer on it.

I might pee the bed tonight, and I’m not kidding.

This is our third house. It’s a big house, it’s a dramatic house, and it’s a great family house, but it’s not my dream house. The night before we moved here I almost wet the bed. I was 35.

My daughter was born during the first week of November in 1998. When she and I returned home from the hospital the weekend immediately after was Veteran’s Day Weekend. A three day holiday. The Friday before the weekend began our toilet plugged up, and I called the apartment manger.

ME: Hi there, our toilet seems to be backed up. Could you call a plumber?

MANAGER: I can come over with a plunger, but I can’t call a plumber until Tuesday, it’s a long weekend and this isn’t an emergency.

ME: How is a backed up toilet not an emergency?

MANAGER: You live in a two bathroom apartment. So long as you have a working toilet, this isn’t considered an emergency.

Five weeks later, my stitches had healed, and we bought our first house. The house was tiny, but I loved it. We were in Van Nuys, because it’s what we could afford. Jane learned to crawl and to walk in that house. We didn’t love the neighborhood. It was safe, but the car dealers would test drive up and down our street. I petitioned the city for speed humps, and got them, a year after we sold the house.

We lived in that tiny house for a year and half. After bumping into one another like keystone cops one too many times, we decided it was time to move. Our next house was a three bedroom, two bath. It wasn’t quite tiny, but at 1,800 square feet it wasn’t huge. The back garden was huge, and the kids and I tended to it like crazy. I had nine foot borders that overflowed with geranium, roses, fruit trees and jasmine. The house was a fixer upper to be sure. When we bought it there was a jacuzzi in the back yard that was full of black water, and had so many mosquitoes in it that it resembled an anthill. We took eleven trees out of the front yard, and it was still shady, but the most important tree that we removed was the one growing through the roof. The flooring and sub flooring had to be replaced, because the previous tenant had a Great Dane that peed in the living room.

With both the first and second houses we bought what we could afford. We bought the cheapest houses is the best neighborhoods. We sold each of them for a nice profit. I worked day and night to make those houses gleam. I purged the houses of everything but the basics, set the table, and fluffed the linens. We got good money for those houses, and we were tired.

The third house (the one we are currently looking to sell) was back to back with our last house. It was a big, ugly smelly house, that had been twice reduced after sitting on the market for ninety days (in the height of the housing frenzy), even though it was uglier than the rest, this house required less work than the others. Fresh paint, carpets and plantation shutters gave a clean, almost regal look. We were very happy here for several years.

And then we wanted a pool. (more…)