Last weekend, we adopted a new little boy. His name is Rufus. We have officially entered the world of crazy cat people and we don’t care. As was the case with all our furbabies, we didn’t plan on adopting a new kitty, but when we saw him, he stole our hearts and we knew he belonged with our family.
We have been talking about a number three for years now, since back in SF when I kept begging for a tabby named Max. Max was adopted just after my kitty Sabine passed away unexpectedly. I had always thought of us as having three furbabies, but the hubs was a bit more realistic. He finally relented and said MAYBE we could get another one IF we bought a house – a bigger place for three fuzzies.
Like most things in life, this sort of came unexpectedly, even though we have been searching for almost two years (and over 36 houses later). Originally, we were dead set on finding a contemporary single family home, but those were either nonexistent, extremely tiny, extremely expensive, in an area where the schools weren’t so great, or needed a complete overhaul (with the price not reflecting that it needed to be totally regutted).
We had dinner one evening at a restaurant housed within an up-and-coming live/work/retail/eat type development in the burbs. The next day, out of curiosity, I searched for the new town homes that were being built in the development to see how much they were listed. They were well out of our price range, but I stumbled across one other contemporary town home neighborhood that pretty much had everything we wanted: great schools (if we have kids or if we resell), close to metro stations, close to shopping/food/a main street, surrounded by nature/spitting distance to hike/bike trail. Most importantly, the town homes were nearly 2x larger than most of the single family homes we had been touring. Not that having a huge home was our goal, but after living in 1000 sq’ houses/apartments our entire adult lives, we wanted something with a little more room.
All summer we monitored the homes in this area, missing out on a few because we didn’t move fast enough (the listing was typically removed same day). We started looking elsewhere and became obsessed with some other contemporary houses in a different neighborhood. Less expensive houses that would need a ton of work, but had a ton of potential.
this looks like wallpaper, but is actually real newspaper clippings plastered onto the wall spanning the Kennedy assassination, first landing on the moon, Watergate, and the attempted assassination of Reagan. It’s fascinating, and we are torn on how to update this bathroom.
During this time, a town home popped up in the original neighborhood we had been eyeing. We were lukewarm about the listing – it looked old and dated, and seemed like a lot of work for what they were asking. We made appointments to see other homes, but when a few were no longer available to view, we added the town home to our list last-minute.
Long story short, the moment we walked in the house we thought, “wow, this is it.” Lots of light. Lots of indoor/outdoor space. Extremely well-kept. And the dated retro things that I thought I would hate, I ended up loving (wood paneled rumpus room and cheesy wet bar in lower level for example). The place needed updates like paint and new carpet/flooring, but it didn’t need a complete structural change. And on top of that, the icing on the cake was that the house was a corner lot that backed into a park/greenbelt/hiking trail.
We put in an offer the same day, and we closed on Halloween. We’ll be moving in slowly over the next month and a half, and then officially when our lease is up mid-December.
During our final walk-through, we found a bunch of old photographs stuffed into a garbage bag hidden underneath the kitchen sink. It was bittersweet to stumble across a lifetime of memories belonging to the previous (original) owner. The photos covered her childhood with her sister, school dances, starting out as a young couple with her husband and kids, her kids growing up, one serving in the military in the Bay Area, grandchildren… It was her entire life in photographs, and I felt sad to think that one story was now coming to an end in that house even though our storywas just beginning.
During our search for a home, the hubs and I had many heated arguments about what we both wanted. The hubs was more practical, liking many of the places we saw, and reminding me that no house was going to be perfect. But I wasn’t looking for perfect. Beyond our checklist of things like good schools and storage space, I was looking for a place where I could see us living and growing together.
Maybe a piece of me was also searching for bits and pieces of former homes: the wood paneled rumpus room and newspaper decorated bathroom that reminded me of my aunt’s house, the Japanese maple that reminded me of my dad, the crepe myrtle that reminded me of my mom’s garden, the eat-in kitchen that reminded me of my grandma’s old kitchen. Memories of people and places and love and laughter. I guess maybe that’s what I was looking for: a home, not just a house.
(Or maybe I was just looking for a place that reminded me of Sea Ranch, a place I have been obsessed with since my first year of Architecture school and is one of my most favorite places ever).
We have both moved a lot in the past 15 years. I haven’t lived in one house for longer than two years since I graduated high school, and for Sly, having been in the Navy, pretty much the same has been true. It’s crazy to both of us that this is our home now. That we have a fridge that makes ice. That automatically dispenses ice! That we don’t have to parallel park on the street anymore. That we have a mailbox from which you can also send mail. That we have a microwave that is over 50 watts that can actually pop popcorn. That we have more than one living space (what are we gonna do with all this space?)That we have a bathroom inside our bedroom. That we have a frickin’ walk in closet!
We are excited, happy, and over-the moon. A new member of the family and a new home – a real home – for all of us.