That One? Seriously?

Posted: 29 January 2009 in Charlottesville, other folks

D and I have done many things in our relationship.  We’ve weathered the death of a relative.  Marriages.  We’ve argued and made up.  We’ve been to therapy that, although for ourselves, dripped all over our relationship in that sticky way.  We’ve been on vacations and road trips that didn’t so much as raise a hackle.  We agree on lots and respect the others opinion.  Big purchases and small, she abides my penchant for extreme recycling and I  cope with her ability to clean the kitchen without touching the stove.  We’re on the varsity relationship team.

I never imagined buying a house would so clearly illustrate the differences in our personalities.  Let’s say, to be kind, that my tastes run toward the quirky.  The fixer-upper?  The abandoned shack?  The lonely standout with twists and turns proper houses shouldn’t have?  I love them.  Doors that open to nowhere and stairs that lead into walls are a plus.  I’d be right at home in the Winchester Mansion.  I’d much rather buy the less expensive house that needs work that the more expensive, perfect house.

Lest you think this is a penchant for strays, let me assure you that it is not.  I don’t usually go in with human fixer-uppers or cats and dogs that have lost their way.  Sure, I can be convinced, but I like to have a sense of my companion’s bones.  Where they’ve come from, how they got here and what makes them who they are.  But houses, oh, with houses I just need to know that there’s potential.

I don’t want to mop up a flood or throw out years of trash.  But if there’s an odd vent in the middle of the floor, I’m likely to build a shrine around it and throw my money at the realtor like a madwoman.  Sure it could be the vent to hell, or just an indicator that the house has no central air, but I’m in love.  Heartsick, puppy-eyed love.  The kitchen is badly organized?  Dreamy.  The basement is unfinished?  Swoon.  The orphan houses love me.

On the other end of the spectrum sits my wife.  Idly paging through listings of perfect little houses, she’s more apt to forward me well-designed, charming layouts that leave nothing to my imagination.  They need no work.  Change would be cosmetic.  These are perfect houses on perfect land beckoning me with upright mailboxes and un-peeling door-frames.  At the least, she appreciates beauty.  At the most, she’s in league with my mother, who’s caution never to buy a house that needs work haunts me every hour of every day.

No doubt there’s a compromise here.  After all, we’re on the varsity team.  We can survive all sorts of familial upheaval with nary a rock to our communal boat.  But house buying we face the threat of capsizing.  Wish us luck!

  1. linaria says:

    I am dreading the day that K and I are actually ready for house-hunting (as opposed to the nigh-constant fantasizing that takes place at the moment).

    [One of my New Year’s resolutions was to keep up with people more. You see I am making swift progress there.]

  2. WKC says:

    For architecture fetishists, and I am one, I recommend the novel House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I usually recommend that book to people anyway.

    I always liked art museum buildings more than the art they contained. When I was little I dreamed of domesticizing an abandoned art museum for my future home.

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