Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oops, I Did It Again

I’m at it again, trolling Redfin looking for the house I’m supposed to live in next.

Another month, and our remodel will be finished and our house will be on the MLS and enticing prospective buyers. Since it will be full-on spring when our garden’s at its loveliest, and also since our house will be in that popular mid-price range, we’re anticipating (and praying and hoping and sending out our cosmic requests) a quick sale.

People ask why we’re going to move when we love it here.

The answer: we need the money. My husband has been unemployed for two and a half years, the project house we bought last summer has racked up costly delays, and my writers’ studio, though a success by our standards, earned us an income well below poverty level. (On the upside we are now grateful recipients of subsidized healthcare.)

People also ask where we’re going. My answer has been: “I don’t know.”

And it’s true, but I had a house in mind, one that’s been on the market for years, one with an incredible water view, less than a half-mile walk to the ferry terminal and library, in Kingston, the same town my prayer partner (who moved from California lives in). A house I’d seen with my husband and one of our daughters and my two closest friends, and had taken a ferry ride to see it from the water. A house I thought, with some negotiating with the seller, was waiting just for me (and my husband and our five cats).

Our realtor didn’t know why it hadn’t sold, possibly a combination of factors that made it unattractive to many buyers: it’s 1300 sq. ft., not large for a waterfront home. It’s a manufactured home which some people snub their noses at and which means a second story addition is not possible. It’s on private road and the road travels through the one-acre lot. The hillside above the road is extremely steep and unusable and might slide in heavy rains. The very high-bank waterfront doesn’t have beach access, and the lot between the house and the water is steep and completely overgrown with blackberries and weeds.

None of those issues were deal-breakers for my husband and me. I’ve lived in two manufactured homes—in fact the dream house we built in California was a manufactured home set atop a site-built first-floor. The house has a two-car garage, room for a shed for our tools, and walls of windows that frame a view that encompasses the Cascade Range from Mt. Baker in the north to Mt. Rainier in the South. Cargo ships and the ferry ply the Sound regularly, and orcas are often sighted there as well.

I pictured our telescope (which has not been unpacked since we moved from California) set up in our living room so I could be on whale patrol each morning while I sipped my tea and looked out at the water. I imagined praying with my prayer partner on the deck while eagles glided by (which we’ve done once when we went to check out the house and the neighborhood for the first time).  

I envisioned walking into town to lead writing groups at the tiny local library, and to launch our kayak at the public beach if I couldn’t convince my new neighbors to let me use their staircase to the water.

I was going to invite writers over on Saturday mornings, and replace the window in the dining room with a sliding door and make a gravel patio for our picnic table where we’d eat every possible meal al fresco while the ferry traveled the waters and Rainier towered in the distance.

I knew where my husband would park his truck and where I’d sit to write during the day, how I was going to hack a path through the blackberry to the edge of the cliff so I could look down at the beach. I hadn’t quite worked out where to put the cat door and our cat run and if I was going to rent out the second bedroom to writers on occasion.

In short, I’d imagined my life there (the way I had in Pacifica in the months we tried to make that work). But two mornings ago, I was checking email at the dining room table, and there it was in my Redfin update, the house on Washington Blvd. had “gone pending.” I gasped. My husband heard me from his office down the hall. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Gone pending. Pending: pending inspections, pending financing, pending whatever conditions and timeframe the buyer and seller agree to, as they’ve entered a contract. Gone. Gone? Sometimes homes fall out of contract and go back on the market, but knowing how long these sellers, who now live in Arizona, have been trying to sell their vacation house, I know they’re motivated. I might have a chance, but I have to let go of the dream, the fantasy that soothed me as I thought about our uncertain future.

“If it’s not this, it’s something better,” my husband reminded me.

So I do my virtual scouting, wondering if I’ve missed something in my inbox, if I need to change my search parameters, if the next right house is languishing undiscovered. I don’t think I’ve found it yet, but I want to be—will myself to be—certain that I’ll know it when I see it.

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