Monday, January 05, 2009

They're Gonna Let You Do What?!?

I started this post nearly a month ago, but life took precedence. So what was supposed to be a clever wait-and-see is now a bit of a bad Gong Show contestant wah-wah-waaah. Nonetheless, here it is:

As a child I moved around a lot. By the time I completed elementary school my family had lived in no fewer than nine different abodes. Most of those had been apartments. Some of them were better than others. During the last half of kindergarten and all of first grade, it was a lovely little rental house in the foothills of Monrovia (uh... California, not Liberia... in case you were wondering). Just before the start of second grade, my parents bought a house with a nice front yard and a pretty good-sized back yard. One of those places where you drive through to the back, where the detached garage is located.

My parents, especially Dad, took great care of that house. He repainted the interior, added A/C and fluorescent lighting (Yeah baby... check out the box on my ceiling! Hey, look, my skin's green. Yours, too. Cool!). He tended the front yard and built a dog run behind the garage. An adobe grill was built by hand up against one of the walls.

When their marriage started breaking up, so did the house. The leaky roof wasn't repaired properly. Roaches seemed to overtake the bathroom.
***I remember getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. When the light was turned on, most of them would scatter... unless they were having roachy sex. Bow-chicka-bow-bow!

A short time later, my mom and I moved into an apartment (for the second time... they'd separated once before). It was such a relief to have a clean place. Of course, it was partially "so clean" because we pretty much snuck out. To live in a roach- and leak-free home was to live a dream. Having my own bedroom and bathroom (for some reason I can't recall, Mom gave me the master "suite") was to want to keep dreaming.

When I got married at age 19, we moved to a not-so-great apartment, in a not-so-lovely part of town, at the bottom of a hill that turned out to be the oh-so-smelly-when-it-rained city dump. And when the area flooded and my (mom's) car was filled with runoff? Ugh! Blecht!

A job transfer led us back to my hometown, San Diego. We picked a fabulous apartment in a beach community, roughly a football field or so from the sand. It wasn't until we moved, shortly after Corey's birth, back to his hometown in Oklahoma, that it occurred to me we might look for a house to rent. We did check some out, but the floor heaters made me too nervous for when Corey started scooting around. I'd never had floor heaters, so I didn't understand that they don't really get that hot. For some reason, nobody bothered to correct my misinformation.

In any case, I've lived in a handful of places since then. With the exception of the couple of years I lived in my mom's place (after my office was shut down and I took a 35% pay cut... that hurt the ego a bit...), everywhere I've lived has been an apartment. Oh, there was a period a couple of years before my job changed when I began to think home ownership was not only attainable, but possibly... maybe... beneficial. So I asked friends to let me help when they had projects like painting or gardening. I purchased unfinished furniture and stained it myself. I never got to help with anything I couldn't learn on my own, like plumbing or wiring, so my skills in these areas have remained the same. Perhaps my "wiring" skills have even regressed since Corey became old enough to set up VCRs and DVD's.

When Tom and I married, we did look at houses for rent. Until the housing boom, houses were cheaper than apartments. I'd just always preferred having an on-call handyman to not having the money or the know-how to get needed repairs made. And the idea of bartering with the landlord for a reduction in rent if we did whatever needed doing... not for me, thanks. After everything went crazy, nothing was affordable, and especially not houses where the owners had too much mortgage on their hands.

So... remember that appointment we were supposed to attend one evening in December? Well it worked out great for us. Because I am nervous... okay, superstitious... I would like to add So Far. It worked out great for us so far.

What was the big deal that I'd mentioned but never revealed? We have been approved for a loan to buy a house. And now we are headed in a million directions.

The loan we're approved for is substantial, but not for our neighborhood, which we adore (of course). Do we live in Beverly Hills? Bel Air? Heck, anywhere in LA County? Nope. But apparently the proximity to LA County (seven minutes with traffic... to the county, not the city) is enough to price us out. Our real estate agent, who is the much-respected husband of a coworker, has said that he won't sell us a house in our area because he refuses to put us in the ghetto. The ghetto!

So we are looking up the hill. Up the hill does not mean into the mountains we are nestled against. It really means behind them, in the High Desert. Yes, we will be more deeply ensconced in the 909 than we ever thought we wanted to be. Instead of a 20 minute drive to work (with dropping off Mad at my dad's house), I'll have something closer to an hour. Same for Tom, but he'll be leaving a lot earlier since he starts at 6:00.

Why would we do that to ourselves? I'm going to answer that in my next post.

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