Our House...is a Very Very Very Fine House
Oodgie and I spent a few days looking at houses last weekend.
Thirty five houses, to be exact. 35.
In three days.
I don't know if you've ever attempted such an endeavor. Perhaps you have. Perhaps not. All I know is that Lance Armstrong tried it and gave up after 20. That shit takes a lot out of you.
The objective, of course, was to find a place to live. We'd been scanning real estate ads around Austin for weeks looking for good matches. Our criteria wasn't particularly scientific.
1) It needed to be bigger than what we live in now. By way of comparison, if you have a garage then your car is probably living in someplace bigger than what we're living in now.
2) It needed central air. Average temperature this July in Austin was 89.5 degrees. That's also the average temperature on Venus.
3) It needed a kitchen that had been updated since the Carter administration.
4) It needed a yard.
This last one was key, because we'd promised Cheeky a yard. A yard she could play in. A secure, self-contained environment where she could go while we closed the door and sucked the sweet nectar of silence for what few moments we could get.
So for three days we cruised through dozens of neighborhoods like teenagers at the Louvre. The excitement of peering into other peoples lives was offset by the stress of decision. We needed to pick one of these, and it would be our home. The place that would define us in the years to come. The place that would be in the background of family pictures and protect the accumulated treasures and memories of our still unlived lives.
A place where I can take a dump without my neighbors hearing it.
At the end of the marathon we narrowed our options down to seven, then finally two. The first was sleek, beautiful, modern. It had high ceilings with huge windows, the most beautiful bathrooms and kitchen I'd ever seen, and a hip style that, had I been single, would have got me laid every night. It was everything we'd ever wanted in a home, and in our price range, no less.
The second one was also pretty, but traditional. It was on a tree-lined street in a good neighborhood and a great school district. It was bigger, and much more expensive. You could hear highway noise from the yard, and it was decorated in a style not seen since the 1870s. It was definitely nice, but after seeing the first one it felt so....boring.
But in the back yard was a huge playhouse, next to one of those swingset/playscapes that cost more than the GDP of Costa Rica. It had a huge children's bedroom with nooks and crannies where all sorta of toys can be lost and found again. It had guest rooms for visiting grandparents, and the neighborhood was lifted out of a John Hughes movie.
So there we stood, on the precipice of a momentous decision staring at two choices. One is the house that you want to have sex with over and over again and can't get out of your mind no matter how bad you know she is for you. The other is the house you'd probably marry. And for days we couldn't decide.
"You know," I told Oodgie a few days later, "if we bought that first house we'd be buying that for us, and I'm fine with that. But the other house...that one we'd be buying for Cheeky."
And at that moment I knew I'd finally, at long last, embraced my identity. I was, and forever shall be, a parent. My most important job isn't the one I'm moving for. It's being Cheeky's daddy.
So, if any of you are coming to Austin in the weeks ahead and want to come visit us in our traditional, nice, safe, perfectly fine but in no way sexy house in a nice neighborhood near a park and a pool then drop me a line. Bring the kids...we've got tons of places for them to play in the back.