Wednesday, October 27, 2010

House v. Home

We hope we've found a house in Pittsburgh.  I've never seen it except in 18 carefully crafted shots on the Internet.  But I've made an offer on it.  Most people would say I'm crazy.  Heck, nearly everyone would say that I am.  About every other second I tend to think that I am.  Yet, it's a means to an end.  It's a portal to get us from here to there.  We all know why I want to be there - I've blogged about it, but even before that, it wouldn't have caused an overwhelming shock wave for me to announce I'm migrating to the capital of the Steeler Nation.  If you asked most people who know me to say one thing about me it - sadly - would not likely be that I am a mother or wife or good worker, it would be that I bleed the Black and Gold.   Is it fair of me to drag Greg into that world?  I don't know.  He has agreed to it.  He's as desperate as anyone else to try and kick start a new life without the yoke of this sorrow.  I think, for him, just anything that distracts him is a good thing.  Are these good reasons to uproot a pretty rooted family?  I don't know really.  I just know this is what we are doing.  If we don't go to this particular house, we will go to another in or around the city.  There is no turning back now.  This move will happen.

Yet, am I moving to my new home soon?  No, it's not a home.  Not yet.  It's a house I'm trying to buy.  It's some walls, windows, and an elevated radon level right now (although that's on its way to being resolved).  It'll take more than my buying it to become a home.  But, it's got that potential.  Even if it's not the perfect house we want to spend the rest of our independent days in.  Hopefully we'll launch a new life from there, and it'll become somewhere I love just because of that.  Just like people I don't know spent their lives there before us and probably loved it because it housed their memories.  Some family or families woke up on Christmas morning and ran down those stairs to that living room I stared at until my eyes watered in photos.  Children tore open the paper on their gifts, laughed and played as the smells of holiday dinner wafted in from the small kitchen.  People sat in that same room watching television as the Beatles performed on Ed Sullivan, astronauts took their first steps on the moon, or as Richard Nixon waved a double peace sign from the door of the helicopter taking him in shame from Washington following his resignation.  Life, in short, ebbed and flowed with the tide of history within the walls of the house I hope to buy.  That intrigues me - it's part of the reason I have never entertained buying a new home.  I want the shades of the past to speak to me (of course, if it's actually haunted, I will be really unhappy).

But, even with a house that brings some instant history, it's not my home yet.  But this investment is very personal for all the reasons you know.  For the couple selling the home, it's likely personal as well.  They are selling a piece of their past to total strangers (well, not total strangers since I happen to know that the man at least has trolled through my blog).  Whatever their reasons for selling the home:  good, bad or indifferent, there has to be a flutter of regret when one turns over the keys to someone they don't know and, in so doing, turn over the trust of the memories that whisper along the walls and floorboards of the house the keys unlock.  I didn't really feel that when we sold our little house on Applewood in Austin, so maybe that's not true in general, and I've missed the mark.  For me, having never really liked the house; I was taking my memories and the things and people that/who were important to me with me into this house, so I never really looked back.  But, I'm guessing there are more than a handful of transactions that are emotional powder kegs.  Real Estate is a business with "real" property changing hands, but - for those of us who aren't buying for investment purposes - it's not a business to buyers and sellers.  It's a labor of love.

Brokering a deal between two people with emotional ties to a physical asset and trying to keep it what it truly is, a matter of commerce, has to be a long walk on a high wire.  Someone wants the house, but doesn't like this thing or that thing.  The person who installed that thing just loves it and thinks it's the best thing in the world, maybe paid a lot for it or spent a lot of time installing it and gets their feelings hurt.  People sweat the money:  one person wants a profit and thinks of the house as their castle.  Another wants to afford it, and it has yet to reach castle status to them.  All of this is done outside of the buyer and seller's working hours, so that means the agents are on call at all hours on all days.  People just want a house, they are ignorant of the law or the protocol.  Expectations run high.  The money is large.  No matter your income bracket, it's the biggest investment you'll likely ever make (unless your name is Jerry Jones or Mario Lemieux and you're in the market for a professional sports franchise or two).  It's a lot for a person to handle.  It's a lot for four walls, some doors and windows to live up to.  My pledge:  I'll take the house for what it is.  I'll make a home out of it for what it will help me do.

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