House hunting: the great wait-- it's kind of like dating

House hunting is not going well. 

House selling went really well; our house was listed only eight days before we got a strong offer, which we accepted. Hooray!

I'm going to miss this place: 

But house hunting? Oh, gross. How come no one ever told me that it's a lot like dating? We've put in four offers, none of them have worked out, and we are still trying to find The One. Here's what I mean:

I met Aaron* at a dance club in Chicago. I liked him right away because he was the first kid I had met in college who could dress really well (this kid could rock a ribbed turtleneck like you wouldn't believe. Ha!). He was also the first boy who I liked in college who didn't go to my actual college-- there was something about the allure of a city boy at a state school, I guess. The thing is, Aaron and I were an odd pair, size-wise. He was at least four inches shorter than me and perhaps as slender. It wouldn't be a big deal if he never would have brought it up or if others would not have made little remarks about it, but sadly, it was an issue. Every time we'd meet up to hang out, he'd look at my shoes and passively ask, "Are you going to wear those?" if I were in heels. 

House #1: A little too small, like Aaron.

House #1: A little too small, like Aaron.

House #1 was like Aaron. It was the first house in Atlanta that I had looked at, I loved all the updates and how cute it was, and I rushed in and put an offer on it (Chris was out of the country and hadn't even stepped foot in it!). As I waited for the counter offer, my stomach kept tying itself in knots. I couldn't shake the feeling that it was just too small for our family. The bedrooms were close together, the girls' room was too small for our girls to share comfortably, and forget having more children. Thankfully, someone swooped in with an all cash offer that the seller could not resist, and I was relieved! As for Aaron? I have no idea what ever happened to him, but I hope he's settled down with a nice woman who thinks his height is just right. 

Mike* was a senior when I was a freshman, and he had a great smile. But girls, beware of seniors that want to date freshmen! Mike was a little too old for me and when it came down to it, I just wasn't that into to him. To be honest, he wasn't that nice of a person. I liked the idea of him, but I didn't actually like him at all. 

House #2: a little too old and not that nice, like Mike.

House #2: a little too old and not that nice, like Mike.

House #2 was like Mike. Built in 1970 with just a tiny bit of cosmetics updates to distract you, when it came down to it, the house was okay, but it wasn't super nice or anything. The way it was laid out didn't even allow for major changes, so we gave them an offer quite a bit below their asking price, expecting a counter. They were so insulted that they declined to counter. Fifty days later and an open house and a slew of showing later, the house is still on the market. As for Mike? He's still on the market too, according to Facebook.

Wayne* was my first serious boyfriend, the first boy I ever said "I love you" to, and I honestly thought that one day we'd get married and have a kid (who we even had a name for!) and everything. On paper, we were perfect for each other. We both enjoyed shopping for clothes and put a lot of effort into what we wore. We both loved to act and dance and read and watch movies, and we were both shy people who were extremely adept at acting outgoing. After a long relationship, we broke up due to fundamental differences... things we didn't notice when we first met, but as we grew up and older, it became clear that unless major changes happened, we could never sustain a relationship into adulthood and eventually marriage. Plus my family didn't think he was right for me, and although they tried really hard to hide that, it was well known. 

House #3: foundational issues, like Wayne.

House #3: foundational issues, like Wayne.

House #3 was like Wayne for me, and like my relationship's demise with Wayne, it was heartbreaking. I loved nearly everything about House #3-- the neighborhood, the square footage, the updates-- even the paint color inside. When it showed up in my Redfin listings the day after we found out House #2 didn't work, my heart skipped a beat. I was certain this was The One. After the other two flops I thought, "This! This is it! This is why those didn't pan out!" We put in an offer and the seller was ecstatic. We walked through the house, admiring all the details, and I started pinning future furniture for the rooms and looking at the PTA websites and Facebook groups for Jude's would-be school district. But then we ordered the inspection. The foundation and basement needed some serious work. $20,000 worth of work that neither us nor the seller wanted to cover. My mother-in-law and aunt were relieved. They didn't think it was the right house for us, and in the end, they were right. We withdrew our offer, and since then House #3 has gone under contract and has come back on the market again. As for Wayne, he's been in a couple serious relationships since we broke up, but he's not married... yet. 

Howie* was the guy I dated right before Chris. After being in so many fruitless relationships, at that point I had pretty much sworn off ever getting married. There was nothing wrong with Howie; he was a nice guy that I would go to the movies with occasionally and sometimes hold hands with. I liked him. He seemed to like me. I'd say that we were friends with hand holding and popcorn sharing benefits. I didn't like that he was an only child (I am, too) and that he wanted to live in Illinois the rest of his life (I did not), but those did not seem like big enough reasons to stop seeing movies with him and to not hold hands with him. He was nice enough.

But then one night, I was journaling and praying, and I felt this-- I don't know how else to describe it-- but this God given feeling that I was about to be in my last relationship, ever. That the person that I was dating was going to be the man I married. Needless to say, it freaked me out, this feeling! I remember talking with my roommate about it one night saying, "If it's Howie, then God's going to have to make me fall in love with him. He's perfectly okay, but I just can't imagine feeling any more for him than what I do now." And that night, Howie had the DTR (Define The Relationship) talk with me, asking if we should become boyfriend and girlfriend. I told him that I needed a week or so to really think about it and consider it.

In that week, his best friend cornered me and asked me what my thought process was. I told him, "I wish Howie were more like my friend Chris. Chris is exactly the kind of man I could see myself marrying. He's funny, he's in a band, he's smart and compassionate, and he's freaking awesome. But he lives too far away for me to even consider that, and besides that, I'm sure he's not at all interested in me. So... I guess if I can't be with someone like Chris, then I should really consider Howie."

House #4, meh, like Howie.

House #4, meh, like Howie.

House #4, is Howie. It's an okay house. Maybe it's even a really great house. But, for some reason, I just feel meh about it. It's in a great location, it has enough space for my family, I like the lot, it's been updated well, and with its unfinished basement, it holds the promise of a lot of possibility. But for some reason, I just can't get jazzed about it. Nonetheless, we put an offer on it, and the seller has countered. 

So that's where we sit today. We can accept the counter or we can walk away and wait. 

Suddenly a familiar thought process has reared up: "I wish House #4 were more like the houses I see outside the city. The houses out there are the kind I can see myself living in forever. They're too far out, so I doubt it would work, so I guess if we can't live out there, then I should really consider House #4."

When Chris and I start looking at houses a little further outside the city, we start seeing homes that we can imagine a long term future in-- homes that I think I could love instead of houses that I hope I can be convinced to like

When my friend Chris came to visit me at college over 13 years ago and professed that he loved me and had loved me for a long time at that point, I looked in his shining eyes and I saw my future. I am thankful that I didn't settle for meh Howie or that I didn't force a broken relationship with deeply flawed Wayne or that I didn't just grin and bear it for eternity with not-nice Mike or that I didn't have to change for little Aaron. 

So tomorrow, I think we will tell our brokers that we will wait, that we'll consider something that is located a little further out than we had originally wanted. A place further out, but a place where we can see ourselves having a future.

If you need me in the meantime, I'll be in my gracious mother-in-law's basement. We leave Austin August 31st.


* Names have been slightly altered thanks to this. Also, no man in this story was compared to a chicken purse, so I think we're all in good standing around here, right?