Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Makes a House a Home?

We have been out searching for a new house to live in. We're renting so the idea of having to find something that we'll be happy in for 30 years isn't really an issue. But we've spent over a year living with Pete's parents and, while they are probably the best in-laws ever, they live differently than we do, so it hasn't always been the most comfortable situation. So there's a little pressure (that we've put on ourselves) to find the "perfect" house.

We have a few musts that we know for sure. Location is a big one. I drive my slowly toning butt to the gym every weekday. Currently, it's a forty minute drive each way. I want it to be less than fifteen. I must have a pool. I have two small children, I live in Florida. If I can't spend my summer days in my back yard watching my kids swim, why did I move to Florida? Also, that pool has to be caged - I hate bugs. Pete needs an office. He works from home and deserves to have a space in the house that he can reasonably expect to be left alone to think and work. The neighborhood needs to be family friendly. Not that it has to have a park within walking distance, or that the development needs to be brand new, but, you know, just... nice. Quiet, even would be good.

After that, it's all gravy. One story, or two? One car garage, or two... or three? Close to the water, or close to the highway? Gated community, or not? Do we care if the neighbor has a boat in his driveway? No. We don't.

I thought we weren't being very picky. I thought we'd be thrilled with the first place we found with our musts. And honestly, we were. But it was a little pricey, and even though I hate to admit this, it was too big for us. We fell in love with a townhouse in a posh development, too. But it was also a bit pricey, and the community pool was a little too far. Now our favorite is an older house, which the owner has renovated, remodeled, added-on, and basically turned it into a one-of-a-kind place with a lot of character. It looks like a jungle in the back yard, in a good way. I kind of expect to find pirate treasure buried back there. And it has a view of the bay from an upstairs wrap-around balcony. The master suite is upstairs, and is HUMONGOUS. Room enough for our king size bed, and a couch and our giant TV, and then the closet is a room big enough to use as a nursery - not that we plan on needing it for that, but you know, it's BIG.... but the master suite is the only thing upstairs. The kids bedroom is downstairs. And that makes us nervous, because we don't like to be that far away from them when we're sleeping.

So we're continuing to look. We're keeping in touch with the owner of the current favorite, thinking we may be able to reconcile ourselves to sleeping a whole floor away from the babies. But we have appointments to see at least four more houses. And now that the new month has started there will be more listings to search through.

But I wonder. Will we find a house that screams our name? One that is cheap enough to afford our lifestyle, and big enough to house our hobbies? Will we find a house that we can agree on that it's perfect? And what makes it perfect anyway? Will we have to compromise on one of our musts to get more of our wants? How much responsibility for our happiness can we reasonably put on a building, or a town? I can't stop wondering if we will ever find a house that we don't feel lukewarm on. I've always been of the opinion that happiness is yours to make and that you can be happy anywhere. But this last year has clouded that opinion. And I feel that if I don't pick the right place, I have a year of awfulness ahead of me. I don't want awfulness. I'm ready to shed all my discontent and bask in the joy my family brings me.

I hope I find the right place... before I sign a lease on somewhere else.