This month we enter our third year of living in this little one bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill, a place where I don’t think we really intended to stay for three years.
And I love this little place, really I do. I am fiercely proud of the little home we have built, eager to invite people in and [usually] happy with our space [when it is clean].
But sometimes I fantasize about better days.
Days when we have a smoke detector that doesn’t go off every time you open the oven. Days when we have a toilet that can be flushed twice within a 30 minute period. Days when you can shut the bathroom door without it locking you in. Days when we have an electrical system where you don’t have to have turn off all the lights to use the toaster without flipping a breaker. Days where we have a bathroom sink with an actual counter because I have broken almost all of my beauty products by knocking them off of that stupid pedestal sink, leaving me applying powder and eye shadow from ziplock baggies where I have gathered the pressed powder fragments. Getting ready in a bathroom where the only surface is a pedestal sink is probably a lot like landing an airplane on one of those floating airstrip things: no room for error. While we are on the bathroom note, sometimes I fantasize about a bathroom big enough to where I could actually have a breakdown and lay down crying on the bathroom floor. As it stands now, half of my body would have to be losing it in the hallway. And someday, someday I will have plumbing that doesn’t just stop working at amazing moments – like when 12 people are seated in my living room for Thanksgiving dinner. I dream of guest rooms, storm sealed windows, and shiny new floors. I dream of homes where the outside and inside are clearly defined, unlike our doors which let winter winds and summer heat blow right on in. The other day there was a squirrel in our living room. Sometimes I dream of, well, not that. (Although it was totally adorable and it maybe fled because it could sense my intense desire to domesticate it.)
Which is why, I recently decided that we were going to buy a house. In DC. On the combined fortunes of a politico and a grad student. Because I am an idiot.
But James, bless his soul, has learned that he should just let my stupid ideas run their course, let me crash and burn into a million flames on my own first, and then calmly put me back together. So, he let me go house hunting.
The first house I found was perfect, by my standards, which are as follows:
- Does it have enough light so that I, if transformed into a plant, could photosynthesize?
- Is it in a cute neighborhood, meaning, what is the brunch proximity?
- Does it appear to have all major walls and doors?
- How many people that I love can I get inside?
- Are there fun quirky things like exposed beams and brick walls?
Things that house-hunting Hannah doesn’t really think to check:
- If you flush the toilet, will you immediately re-see what was just flushed?
- Do those bulges in the ceiling mean water damage?
- Does this structure meet all current building codes and practical concerns for a structure that will house humans?
And the first house I found met all my criteria, but apparently none of the second, as James took one look – merely peering through the windows – and declared that my beloved row house needed at least 100k of work to be livable. I declared him a dream killer and pouted.
But when that little two bedroom house finally sold for over half a million dollars (go vomit and come back), it was immediately gutted, leaving nothing but the front brick façade standing.
Y’all, someone paid half a million dollars for an address and one brick wall. VOMIT.
But still, I persisted in my stupidity. The problem with the houses in DC is that they usually go for around a million dollars (VOMIT), which means that it has given me a warped sense of “cheap,” that is totally independent of our finances. 500K? PENNIES. The second house I found was a little smaller than the first, but totally livable from the get-go, no need for any massive demolitions. And it was cheap… for DC standards. Having basically already picked out curtains and a move in date, I blithely entered in some info on the online mortgage calculator, only to find out that, given what we could put down and factoring in a 40 YEAR MORTGAGE, we would pay a monthly sum that was about 3 times our current, already ungodly high, rent.
And then I laid half in the bathroom half out and cried as I told James that we would officially be renters FOREVER and that WE WOULD NEVER OWN NICE THINGS.
Because sometimes I forget that we can’t all live the same life. I see so many of my friends who live elsewhere buying homes, planting gardens, letting their pets out to run free in their large fenced yards, as if I even remember what a yard is. They are painting guest rooms and re-doing kitchens and buying real furniture (real meaning, not from Ikea with the added middleman of Craigslist). And I wonder, why can’t we do that now, why can’t we have that now?
Because we can’t. Because our life is not anyone else’s. And we chose this life, this little apartment big-city life, and I have to remind myself how much I love it. Because the rest might come, someday, even if it feels like it never will. But it probably won’t come here, in this city, not unless we change careers or become involved in shady dealings that make big profits. And when it comes, we won’t get this back, this life where we have so few responsibilities and such freedom.
Plus, with James home this week, I’m reminded that where he is, there is home, and that’s enough to make me happy.
But I still wouldn’t mind a toilet with more flush frequency and some squirrel free living.
Any house hunting horror stories out there? Or apartment living horror- I’ll take both!
PS: These images are obviously NOT from our home, but rather from the ephemeral someday home that exists only in my Pinterest board, in which I also become a way better interior designer than I am now. Plus, James would totally veto a lot of these looks, especially that last one, as he doesn’t share my love for ridiculous pattern juxtaposition and obnoxious colors. Oh, and weird animal pillows- I LOVE IT ALL. Images via /1/ 2 / 3 /4/