8.07.2015

house hunters


My husband just started his second year working on inpatient wards, so the phrase “the hospital owns him” is coming to mind. While his work schedule and I would occasionally like to punch each other in the face, my hubby handles it all with grace and patience. He is blessed with great coworkers and continues to feel affirmation that his chosen specialty is the right one for him, which I am grateful for every day. For those of you wondering how I fared that first year of residency, let me be clear: I do not always handle things with the aforementioned grace and patience of my hubby. Let's just say that intern year went by much faster than I expected, but you guys - it was hard.

First of all, it’s a real treat trying to buy a house in a new city when all you have to go on is what you know about the airport (crowded, not enough Starbucks) and the highway at 3am (because no one wants to be anywhere near it at rush hour and you’ve decided to man up and drive yourself to Florida). On top of that, factor in the reality that your husband will not be working at one but four different hospitals spread across the city, so good luck trying to find a convenient location.

Confession: I seriously thought this was going to be like House Hunters.

I was expecting our real estate agent to have extensive knowledge of every potential neighborhood, school system, and all of the cute little areas where we would be “within walking distance of shops and restaurants.” How many times do you hear that phrase when watching the show? It brings to mind visions of undiscovered, trendy civilizations with amazing food hiding around every corner. I also thought that our real estate agent (do you feel bad for her already?) would meet us at the door of every house and take us on a guided tour of each room, the layout of which she was already miraculously familiar with. Last but not least, I expected that she would moonlight as a licensed contractor, able to field any number of questions about possible renovation and repair costs so that we could factor those things in to our final decision.

Speaking of the Final Decision, let’s discuss how I thought that conversation would go: I envisioned my husband and I sitting at a cool restaurant (because obviously we have inherited our agent’s ability to locate hipster food), glasses of wine in front of us, casually listing the pros and cons of three different but equally charming houses. We would easily agree on which house should be eliminated first and on the count of three, we would shout out our unanimous final pick. Our agent would then demonstrate some hardcore negotiating skills to score a sweet deal on the house and we would move in like two weeks later, immediately followed by unpacking, painting, decorating, and hosting a dinner party for 17 people.

I am an idiot.

This is how it went down in real life. First, our agent was not familiar with any area other than the suburb where she already lived; that particular suburb was definitely not an option for us, seeing as how it required you to actually drive on the highway to go anywhere. In this city? No thank you. Second, the houses we could afford were less "walking distance to shops and restaurants" and more "walking distance to any situation that will get you killed." Literally. A very nice girl who lived in one of our potential neighborhoods informed us that "you get used to hearing the gun shots." Again, NO THANK YOU. Unfortunately for us, we quickly recognized that we had turned into that couple; you know, the spoiled ones who think they're going to get granite, stainless steel, bathrooms built after 1942 and an open concept for like five dollars. If I could go back and give myself advice, it would be this: "Girlfriend, manage your crazy expectations."

What I imagined as a meaningful bonding experience for me and my recently graduated hubby turned into tears, fights over stairs vs. no stairs, ultimatums about kitchen renovations, and 47 hours in the car. I'm pretty sure my husband never actually cried but I clearly did enough of that for the both of us. Did we find a house in the end? Yes, thank the Lord. It was obviously one of the last houses we saw, because why make it easy? Fortunately, we now have a cute little place that's easy to clean (because my husband was right on the no-stairs thing) in a neighborhood that's safe, within 20 highway-free minutes of any hospital. Best of all, it's ours. Did we have rooms painted, boxes unpacked and a dinner party for 17 people within weeks of moving in? Definitely not. However, we did eat Chinese food in our new living room on that first night, using jelly jar lids as spoons because they forgot to bring utensils with our garlic chicken. We did paint every wall, baseboard and piece of trim ourselves over the last year and it looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself. We did renovate our kitchen, which is another long story, meaning we used Solo cups and plasticware until about three months ago - that's also when we finally unpacked the last of the boxes. We did have a group of people over, but it was just a neighborhood girls' wine night - no dinner, no place settings, no centerpieces, and no boys allowed. 

The whole moving experience is not something I'm eager to do again, but the reality is that we may have to go through this process in another four years when residency is over. Who knows - we may even have to factor in school districts at that point, which kind of makes me feel panicky. 

{Should I be Googling "top ten preschools" starting now? Aren't kids expected to be able to read in Latin by age two nowadays if they want any hope of getting into college?}

The one thing I can count on as my husband works his way through residency is that it is always going to be unpredictable. Even though we're settled for the moment, it doesn't mean that we're settled for a lifetime. Even though I daydreamed about the purchase of our home through the not-so-accurate lens of a house hunting reality show, I'm jolted awake by real life, which includes mortgages, differing opinions and no editing. Even though I have dinner ready to go, I get a phone call saying, "I just got a new admission - I'll be home late." As someone who typically thrives on a schedule and a plan, my heart suddenly becomes ungrateful and demanding when I can't anticipate the next thing. I'm slowly and painfully learning that my life - including where we live, what house we buy and what time we eat - is so much more fulfilling when I give the control up to God. I listen more, I laugh more, and I don't spend my time thinking about the next move, whether literal or figurative; I spend it truly enjoying my husband - even if all I get is a kiss goodnight when he rolls in at 1am - and I'll take that over House Hunters any day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment