*Lyrics from Take It As It Comes by J Roddy Walston and The Business from their album Essential Tremors. I heard this song on Conan the other night, and I reluctantly liked it (I resist grasping at my youth in unflattering ways, like with music that is clearly meant for younger people). I have yet to check out their whole album. It borders on alt-pop for me, but I did enjoy the singer’s voice, and the overall vibe. Check it out, and let me know how you like it.
During a recent walk-and-talk with the husband, discussing all the ups, downs, and turn-me-all-arounds of our sluggish house hunt, I got to thinking about death. Not death, exactly, but more like the stages of grief, and how similar they are to our search. As we began our process by first leaving our too-big-for-us house in search of a just-right apartment, we had high hopes for finding just enough space to live comfortably in the neighborhood in which we had already gotten a foothold. Well, it’s becoming evident that that desire is impossible, and that we can hope for maybe more than we have in our Pied, but not even close to what we had hoped for initially. At least not here (in the ‘hood, and surrounding ‘hoods). So if not here, where?
Stage 1: Denial
When I first started seeing that apartments were getting steadily pricier, and the buyers more desperate to take just about anything, I started to worry. Jeff, on the other hand, was convinced that the real estate data we had seen throughout the year before was still true. See, it took us over a year to get our house sold, and in that time the real estate market in our preferred neighborhood(s) skyrocketed. Actually, it really exploded during the last quarter of last year – apartments that sold during last summer closed in the fall/winter making the last half year of real estate a veritable boom for sellers/developers/brokers. We were priced out and we didn’t even know it yet.
Stage 2: Anger
Unwilling to fully accept defeat (aka: still in denial), we continued (throughout the fall and into now) looking in our preferred neighborhoods. What we wanted – 2 bedrooms, washer/dryer in unit, light and/or a view of some sort (beyond a brick wall), access to outdoor space, and possibly a second bathroom – had turned into the stuff of millionaire’s dreams. What we could get was not much better than our rental Pied, but at twice the price. We started to get pissed off. Real estate should not be this expensive. The quality of the places we were seeing, places built within the past few years/months was appalling. In one place we saw there was still wet joint compound drying in the corner. Fuck you, builders and flippers. Why should you get to make $200K for a month’s half-assed work?
Stage 3: Bargaining
Well, we thought, what if we just changed what we needed? Maybe we don’t need a second bedroom/office area (we’d already shrunken our size desire to fit the inventory of what was out there)… maybe we didn’t need our own laundry facilities? Did we really have to have sunlight? I mean, aren’t we going to only mostly be home at night? All of these questions and more we tried to negotiate with ourselves. So while we had wanted around 900-1,000 sf initially, maybe 700 would do? Maybe 600? Just to get it over with and be able to move on/settle in? We tried it. We bargained. I’ll give up light, space, privacy and autonomy if you’ll (whoever ‘you’ is in this, I don’t know) just make it stop. Let me go back to the way it was, in my head, where I loved where I lived, and I wasn’t constantly stressed about not having a real home. Needless to say, the bargains didn’t work.
Stage 4: Depression
I’m very familiar with this stage. It’s almost like an intermezzo course for me – between each stage of this house hunt I’ve indulged in a little depression, just to cleanse my palate from the last stage. Anger doesn’t taste as nice with denial lingering on your taste buds… maybe just a few bites of depression and then anger will be a more robust experience. Yes, so, we are bummed out about it all. Obviously me more than Jeff. But, yeah, it’s not so fun, this house hunting. Add to this the winter blues, the grief over the loss of the only home I’ve really ever known, and the depressing knowledge that I won’t ever have one again, well, it’s all bringing me way, way down.
Stage 5: Acceptance
I can’t say that we’re really here yet. I think that’s common with normal death-grief, too. Some days I feel that I’ve accepted the fact that we will have to choose a different neighborhood, that we most likely still won’t get even half of our list checked off, that my desire to have a home will be one I have to live with, unfulfilled, for eternity (or at least for several years longer). Some days I feel excited to experience something new with the man that I love. That we get to be adventurers together, that we get to support each other through the hard times. Some days I even look forward to getting to design a new apartment – no matter the location – to choose lighting fixtures, wallpaper, to get my bed out of storage, or to finally have space for the easel I was promised two birthdays ago (but haven’t had the space to buy/store). Some days I feel okay about where New York is taking us, and wondering about all the things we’ll see and do along the way.
But, mostly I’m stuck in stage 4.