Real Estate, Real life

What a difference a year makes.

Just for reference, I grabbed the March 2006 issue from my archives to see what we were writing about then. It, too, was a real-estate-themed issue, with an illustrated house encased in a bubble gracing the cover. The copy read, "Bubble Trouble: Are We Next?" Incidentally, it was the last issue we published before the big 30th anniversary redesign. So there was a lot in flux for me then, both professionally and personally, and putting together a real estate issue while doing everything in my power to keep my mind off real estate was just one of life's little jokes.

Let me explain.

As we went to press with that issue, I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if the seller accepted our offer for a home in Midtown's University Park neighborhood. I'd been married not quite a year, and my husband and I clasped hands, closed our eyes, and made an offer on a home, finally, after a yearlong search. Then the waiting game began. Anyone who's ever made an offer for a home or other large purchase can attest that time . . . stands . . . still until you get an answer.

Thankfully, it worked out well for the two real-estate newbies. We moved in last April, and have since worked on our home together with a combination of frustration and excitement. Picking out the perfect shade of red for the dining room? Exciting. Watching in despair as water poured down the side of our bedroom wall during a hard rain, then finally giving up and going to bed only to have drops hit us in the face? Frustrating. Watching the long-neglected Japanese maples and azaleas slowly come back to life? Exciting. Watching the windowsill on the west side of our home fall to the ground like a sack of Idaho potatoes? Frustrating.

Hey, there are certain prices you pay to own a home, especially an old home, but I'm willing to ante up if it means I get to plug in my iPod and check out what's happening at Overton Park and the campus of Rhodes College on a Sunday jog. (Fine, a Sunday walk.) It's worth it to live among the amazing architecture Midtown boasts, and among trees so old, so enormous, that I can hardly see their tops. It's worth it to live in a neighborhood protected by the neighborhood association as well as the historic register. It's worth putting up with creaky floorboards and cracks in the plaster to know that no cookie-cutter houses will be popping up in my 'hood anytime soon, nor will we have to make room for a fast-food joint. (I'm willing to negotiate for a Starbucks, though. Just throwing that out there.)

Each evening as I pull into my driveway, no matter what curveballs the day has pelted my way, seeing that 1920s Mediterranean stucco home painted a color we affectionately call "queso" (it's actually quite lovely, though I know what you're thinking) makes me break out into a jaw-splitting smile. Every single day, without fail. It's not the largest home in Midtown by a long shot, nor is it the fanciest, but it's ours. And since nothing has fallen off, backed up, or flooded at our queso casa so far today, I'm a happy camper. (It's the little things, right?)

That home is more than just our first "grown-up" purchase -- it's a commitment not just to the city, but to each other. Sure we might worry a bit when the rain drives in from the west, or when we hear the sputtering sound of an HVAC on the fritz, but that's what being a homeowner is all about, right?

So, yes, knowing that we'll be making mortgage payments and hoping that everything remains intact until 2036? Frustrating. Knowing that we'll be making those payments together, and dealing with whatever that house -- or life -- throws our way long after it's paid for? Exciting.

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