LITTLE HOUSE ON THE ISLAND
April 20, 1998
I had to ask myself, when does attraction and interest turn into an unhealthy obsession? Where is the line drawn between admiration and neurosis? And, perhaps most importantly, have we crossed it?
There we were, sitting in the car across the street from the object of our mutual desire. Watching. Waiting. For what, I couldn't tell you. It was simply necessary for us to be near, to see, to feel like there was a chance. A few other cars were parked around us. Thank God no one noticed the steamed up windows.
Leslie and I are moving to Alameda, a small city on an island across the bay from San Francisco. We found a Victorian that's about 110 years old and cute as a frigid' button. For Leslie is was love at first sight. I had the same feelings pulling at my heart but I decided to play hard to get. I said no, I wanted a house I could live in. A house where she wouldn't tell me to be careful in all the time because I might break it. A Lazy-Boy sort of house.
I insisted we keep looking. We spend every Sunday driving around, looking at squatty little houses that smelled like urine and moth balls. It was a sad unrequited love affair between the three of us. We drove by the house we really wanted, I began to get possessive. At one point I wanted to drive by at night and knock the For Sale sign over. Leslie had to restrain me. It was sick, really. We were stalking a house.
We put our little San Francisco cracker box on the market and waited. Our real estate agent said we'd get a lot of money and it would sell quickly. It's their job to lie to the sellers and make them feel secure, proud, and wanted. They are the pimps in these transactions.
Our house sold in 9 days for more money than we could have dreamed of.
Then, with promissory papers in hand, went to the bank.
"Please Sir, can we have some more?" We asked in our best Oliver Twist impersonation. They looked us over and said, "Yes. You may borrow $250,000."
I felt pretty damn good about that until I realized that is A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. That is what is wrong with this county. There are bozos with ties that are foolish enough to give me that much money. What the hell are they thinking???? Are these the people we want to have control over the money? So you think Allen Greenspan would give me a quarter of a million dollars? I don't think so. Of course, I realize they are giving the money to Leslie and me (it really helps that she is a stable high school teacher) but then again, she's a little nutty too. Let's look at the facts: 1) She's with me and, 2) She is a brilliant mathematician working as a high school teacher instead of some miserable desk job that she hates but that brings home obscene amounts of money.
So, then it was our turn to go to the sellers with a huge amount of money in hand and ask permission to live in their house. We didn't offer them all the money. We played it pretty close to the vest, hoping that they would counter and we'd settle just short of Too-Much-Money-To-Pay-For-The-Taj-Majal. To my shock and amazement, they said yes to our first offer. We are moving to a small, quaint and quiet, island community in two weeks. I wonder if they are ready for me because I'm sure I'm not ready for them.
We are now buying the house of our dreams and I'm a complete wreck. I am not sleeping well, I ache all over, all the time, and I'm beginning to jump and scream at random sounds. I'm not sure which I fear more, getting what I really want or NOT getting what I really want.
Leslie is ready to send out change of address forms and house warming invitations. She keeps saying things like, "This seems so much easier than the first time we bought a house."
I usually scream and start to grind my teeth so loud the dog leaves the room when she says things like this. It's going so smoothly that I'm waiting for it all to come crashing down around our heads. I'm a die-hard pessimist in most things and to top it off, I believe in curses. Not the voodoo you-pissed-off-some-hairy-chinned-old-lady kind of curse. I'm talking about the sort that you bring on yourself. I'll give you an example:
We currently live at a very popular intersection for car crashes. One day, Leslie said, "There hasn't been a crash at the corner for a long time." No more than 30 minutes later, CRASH. Two cars collided and took out the fire hydrant.
That's the sort of curse I believe in and that's the sort of curse you bring on when you say things like, "This is going so easily. I can't imagine anything going wrong," or by sending out invitations to a house warming party for a house you don't even own yet!!!!
You know what the Cherokee Indians say, "What does not kill you makes you stronger." If I live through this, I'll be strong enough to build my next house with one hand tied behind my back.
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Copyright 1998 by Laura Jiménez.