Dorian Hargrove 8 p.m., Dec. 11
My husband and I rent a condo in City Heights. We have 812 square feet, two bedrooms, and a bath and a half to share between ourselves and our two children. The baby sleeps in the closet. It’s time to expand, and it has been for a long time.
Back before the recession sucked the life out of our financial stability, I used to drag my husband around on walks through South Park and Golden Hill to look at houses and daydream about owning one. We’d wander from street to street commenting on this craftsman bungalow or that Spanish style stucco, and every time we saw one for sale, I’d say, “Let’s get it!”
He’d chuckle sarcastically and say, “Sure, honey. Why don’t I just cut a check right now?”
“Seriously,” I’d say, “It’s got everything. A yard, four bedrooms, two full baths. And look how cute it is. I bet the neighbors are really nice.”
“Uh, Lizzie? Did you look at the price?”
“Yeah, six hundred thousand. Why? Is that high?”
He’d shake his head and tell me that if I was serious about buying a house, we needed to take our walks in City Heights.
And that was back when we both had jobs.
My husband is a realist and a planner – a by-the-books kind of guy. I’m the kind of girl who will dip into next month’s rent in order to make a quick trip to New York because my best friend needs me. My personal philosophy is that it will all work out in the end. There’s no place for such a philosophy in this economy.
I understand this, and therefore, I’ve adopted a more realistic attitude and begun checking out houses in City Heights. There is certainly no shortage of them. I think every third house is for rent or for sale. Some of them are even in a price range that would lower our monthly expenses. The problem is that the fine print often reads something like: 4 bed, 2 bath, 350 sq ft..
The biggest problem with our current home is that it’s tight and getting tighter. But I love the canyon views, and the neighbors have grown on me. For a while there, I had my hopes set on our landlord selling our place to us dirt cheap and then the place next door selling for dirt cheap, too, so we could knock down the wall between them and put in some wood floors in place of this dusty old carpeting.
My husband rolls his eyes whenever I remind him of that possibility. In fact, these days, he rolls his eyes whenever I bring up buying a home at all. Ever the realist, he reminds me that it’s harder than ever to get a loan these days, especially with just one income. (I’m home with the baby, and in this economy, there’s just no telling.) I know he wishes I’d be more of a realist myself. But you know what? I gotta be me.
My most recent fantasy is purchasing the house across the street. It’s right smack between my two favorite neighbors: Mr. Super Extra Friendly and the Do-It-Yourself guy (who’s not so baby-faced with a full beard). It really can’t get more perfect. As a two and one, it ought to be in our price range, even though the square footage is more than what we have now. Plus, it has a huge yard and plenty of space to build another bedroom or two, another bathroom or two and maybe even expand the kitchen.
Imagine. Our eleven-year-old wouldn’t have to switch schools, and the baby would grow up to be a City Heights native.
The catch is that even though the house is empty and has been for a long time, it’s not actually for sale. I see that as a plus. It means no one else can snatch it up while I track down the owners and feel them out.
My husband told me not to get my hopes up because there’s probably a reason it’s not on the market, and even if they would sell it at a price we could afford, there’s probably a reason they haven’t done so yet. I commend him for his persistence at trying to get me to think the way he does. But I’m holding on to the belief that it’ll all work out in the end. Even in this economy.