Brian and I are looking for a house. I’ve tried to be nonchalant about it, but it’s becoming increasingly harder to do so. We think we are moving to Redlands, a history and music-obsessed, friendly town in San Bernardino County where eucalyptus line the streets and orange groves still take up city blocks. How very California of them. They are known for their small, private university and the Redlands Bowl, where people picnic and listen to music all summer under the stars. We have thought that we’ve found The House a couple of times now.
Looking for a house is a little bit terrible. It is nothing like looking at model homes or touring open houses as a looky-loo. Those I enjoy like I enjoy the Huntington Library. I can imagine living in the house (that is now an art gallery) with the grand staircase, pulling up to the pillared front door in my carriage and tucking the folds of my silk dress behind me as I step out. I can see the parties we would have on that vast lawn, white tablecloths fluttering in the breeze, the warm glow of candles, the statues of Greek Gods looking on. I can look at the tract home with the long dining room table and picture us there, lights dimmed, as I set a glowing birthday cake in front of a curly-haired child. I also know that it’s not real. It is nice to consider, but it’s okay if that never happens. Brian is infinitely better than the “boyfriend” I dreamed up when I was in high school, with his nondescript car, the fake ring he gave me, and his propensity for bringing me non-existent flowers. I assume that home ownership will be the same.
Looking for a house to own feels like a breath of hope that is strangled in possibility and what-ifs and anxiety that they won’t accept what you’re offering. The seller, whom you have never met but assume must be a penny pinching, coupon-clipping curmudgeon, holds your dream future in his hands. There are always other houses, but there is never That Exact House. You give one gasp of breath before submerging yourself into a version of your dream life and drowning there. We have only been at this for three weeks and I already want to give up as much as I want to go forward. Well, that’s not entirely true. I want to go forward just a little more than I don’t. It is the evil siren’s call of that dream future I’m drowning in, I know it.
Finding the house is the easy part, I’m told. It’s within all the paperwork and the inspections where mysterious and catastrophic things go wrong. I have a feeling I won’t be getting much sleep for a while.