Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leap

You know that you are getting old when you start to be able to relate to something on just about any show on television. When you can remember going through something like what the characters went through. Feeling the same feelings. Worrying about the same things. Seeing it presented in moving pictures is different though. Makes the real memories come back vividly.

Last night we watched one of the shows we always watch. How I Met Your Mother. And one of the characters bought a house. An old house, with flaws and imperfections. It needed work. A lot of work. His friends were convinced he was crazy. This? He wants to buy this? But he saw something in it. Potential. Possibilities. His future. And I laughed a little. Because we've been him. Twice.

When we bought the condo, it just seemed to make more sense. At the time, I was pregnant, though that baby wasn't destined to make it. We didn't know that of course, and knew that we needed a bigger place if we were to become parents. Renting a bigger apartment started not to make sense when we realized it would be cheaper to buy something than rent. (This, clearly, was before the housing bubble grew and burst in Southern California.)

So we started looking. We found something fairly quickly, and I'm not quite sure what we saw to be honest. A three bedroom condo. It was big, yes. It was in a nice area, yes. It was further out than we lived and further than we really wanted to live, but it would work. Except it had some issues. No air conditioning, in inland east county. Luckily we bought it in January and the heat didn't scare us away. The prior owner had replaced all the carpet, which was nice, but had not installed things like screens and ceiling fans. The kitchen had been tiled at some point, but rather than move the appliances to tile it properly, whoever did it tiled around the appliance feet. Totally not kidding. The stove/microwave combo unit looked like had last been used in the mid 80's. And it took one glance at the the washer/dryer to know that it wasn't going to work either. To top it all off, there was a drawer completely missing in the kitchen. Gone.

We didn't see all those things. We knew we'd have to replace the appliances, fix the floor, and probably remodel the entire kitchen, but we didn't really see those things. We saw a home for our family. Possibilities. Potential. A future. By the time escrow closed, the baby was gone. And we no longer really needed, nor wanted that condo. But we lived there. We made it ours. We made it better. And eventually, we brought home a different baby.

Fast forward to the next home. Our first house. It made the condo look, well, glamorous. It was a fixer upper in the truest sense of the phrase. I remember the look on my Dad's face when we brought him in for the first time, proud to be showing off our new purchase. He tried so hard to be happy for us. But I could tell even then that he thought we'd lost our collective mind.

It was a house, but it wasn't much bigger than the condo. It had a yard and a garage. The counter in the kitchen was broken. There were missing cabinets and no dishwasher. The living room was covered with wood paneling and popcorn ceilings were in most of the house. The carpet was so dirty there were tiny little puffs of dust when you walked on it. There were random holes in the walls. A wall air conditioner was there, but it didn't work. The heat smelled like smoke. The fence was collapsing in the backyard, half of which was occupied by a gigantic tree.

The configuration of the house was mind boggling. The prior owner decided that an 800 sq. ft., 2 bedroom house was too small, so they built an addition. In the dumbest way possible. The door to the "new" master bedroom was actually part of the wall. My brother jokingly called it the Batcave.

Every single part of that house needed work. And not little touch up work. Like major, strip it to nothing and start from scratch work. And we did most of it ourselves. We worked on that house from the day we moved in until the day we left. That house was adorable when we sold it. But it sure didn't start out that way. We really were crazy. I'm shocked no one told us just how crazy we were. I guess by then they figured we saw something in it they didn't. I suppose that we must have.

Like the character in the show tonight, we just took a leap one day. We didn't know how it would end up. We didn't know if it would work. We just knew that we saw some potential. Possibility. A future.

As crazy as it may sound, I miss that tiny little house. I poured my heart and soul, my sweat and tears, my hopes and dreams into it. We got new and shiny when we moved here. But new and shiny isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes old and dusty and strange is better. Sometimes that feels more like home.

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