Summer 2014 will go down in my mental history books as the summer when: Tim and I drove a friend’s beat-up truck to East Nashville so we could load my old roommate’s queen-sized mattress and box spring, strap it in as best we could with ropes and gravity, then truck it back down the highway like those crazy people you never want to wind up stuck behind, praying it wouldn’t fly off. It will be the summer both my old roommates moved away. The summer of days so hot, sweat layers on sweat. The summer I did things like look up the owner of a property on public records, cyber-stalk him and email a “Hey, have you thought about selling your place?” The summer of sweet old ladies like Edna, whom we met this week, who lived in her house for 50+ years and whose husband worked on airplanes and who is only trying to move now because he died last year. The day after I met her, I sat at Provence with my work buddies, thinking about people who can’t get out to coffee shops in the middle of the day, can’t even leave their house when their Realtor shows it, because their bodies are slower and older now. Alongside all of these things, because of these things, it will also be the summer of nights, so many nights, where Tim and I end up looking at each other, stomachs growling and bodies tired, realizing we’ve forgotten to eat and now we’re too tired to cook, so we wind up with episode #53 of Tomato Cucumber Salad, made the way Tim ate it as a kid.
A few weeks ago, a sweet blog reader named Katie was in town, and while we talked at Fido about kombucha and parasites and real food and moving across the country, the fact that Tim and I were looking at houses also came up. We’d made an offer the day before, and we were waiting to learn the result. I told Katie then what I’m going to tell you now: I’ve been trying not to blog about it. That’s mostly because I don’t really want to tell the world about the saga that is house-hunting… not because it is painful or difficult or hard but because, hello, the very idea of looking for a house to buy is a luxury, and yet it’s a luxury that can often feel like a part-time job that you don’t get paid for, especially when you never wind up buying a house at the end. Also and more significantly, looking at houses confronts a hundred things I don’t want to be true about my heart, namely that I’m selfish and I want and I fear and I get anxious and I, sometimes without even realizing it, buy into the lie that a house will fill me up. I get caught up in square footage and property values and start hearing thoughts like, “You have to get ahead” or “This house will make you happy,” and it is work to filter them and throw them out.
But the other thing I told Katie is the same thing I read in an article somewhere I can’t remember now, which is essentially that it is in the sharing of these moments—these embarrassing, unattractive internal arguments and conflicts and struggles—that we find actual connection with other human beings. We don’t see each other’s souls when we talk about our favorite kitchen backsplashes (much as I enjoy a good subway tile); we enter each other’s lives when we talk about what wanting a certain something is doing to our hearts. So this is me saying in black and white and to the Internet that we are nearing the end of (another) summer of house-hunting and we are walking into all the city-versus-country, suburbs-versus-city, Antioch-versus-Hermitage, Woodbine-versus-Donelson, big-versus-little-downpayment, big-versus-little-house conversations that come alongside. What I love about this process is what it reveals; what I hate is how disproportionate, from a value standpoint, the amount of time it takes to hunt and offer and go to showings takes. What I am sure of, despite whatever fleeting thoughts hit me day to day, is that no house or hardwood floor is going to give me something that satisfies me more than what I’ve been given now. I looked at our stock of CSA vegetables Monday night, grown by hands that are not mine and through sun and rain I do not send; I sat with my Tim Sunday night by a body of water that you almost wouldn’t believe people made; I talked tonight to a dear friend who starts our conversations by laughing with me about sending her Christmas cards eight months late. I have so much! We have so much! I hate every minute I spend not soaking that in.
ps: August 4 marked six years (!!) of blogging here. It also marked 15 years (unbelievable!) since my grandma passed away. Both shock me. But posting a simple, Italian-inspired salad that she would have liked seems just right. Happy summering, guys. House-hunting advice welcome.