20 February 2016

How to not buy a house in California.

This isn't the first time this has happened. This is how life is. I still drive by the house on Empire Grade, our dream house a few years back, that somebody paid $200,000 more for than what we could have, just as easy as that. Write the biggest number on a check, tear it out of the book, and hand it over, it's yours. Still I drive by a few times a week and still curse them and their fancy remodel and the modest yet functional barn they placed right in the same spot I would have placed mine. Mostly now I try to avert my eyes and look ahead up the road.

And then just up the road, it happened again. I saw the house, I knew it was my house, I planned exactly where I'd put my desk and the weave poles and where the dog crates would go and how I'd rip out that row of weird cabinets screwed into the ceiling and how every single morning when I got up I'd walk outside and listen to the breeze.

I planned how I'd bring kids up from the barn to swim in the very vintage pool and how we'd sit on the front porch, just staring at the trees, for two or three hours every night. How I'd make a little extra cash taking care of pets and livestock up there, nobody wants to drive to Bonny Doon to feed some dogs or llamas or clean out paddocks, but that could have been a thing, trying to raise the extra we'd need for that giant payment we were going to take on. How every day we'd head down the path I was going to cut to the creek, saying good morning to the trees I'd take care of til I died.

Was just a little house, only a little bit bigger than our house now. Enough space to have a Christmas tree, though. Built in the '40's by someone's grandpa, with a little cabin out front that appeared to be sagging it's way off the hill. It had a laundry room with a toilet opening into living room and very old wood paneling, the bedrooms barely fit a bed. The heat came from a wood stove on the glassed in wall at the end of the house, and the kitchen was like a funny joke on the real estate channel, one of those re-runs late at night about how to tear down a fixer with your sledge hammer and turn it into your dream home.

Had a good well and a nice big tank. Had a basement and some unknown weirdo things going on with pvc pipes and trees by the foundations, and we loved all of it the moment we set foot on it. To explain to you how to get there, we'd have to tell you to either come the long way up the road or be really careful making the turn since it's not a real road and if your truck doesn't turn good, you'd not make it and hit the neighbor's fence.

And it had a forest. A long four acres of fir and redwood, where I made my own path the first day I set eyes on it. Bushwacking through the woods took you down to the creek, and in a lifetime of living there I bet on my trail you'd make your way all the way to the lime kilns, if the pumas didn't get to you first. Maybe even all the way to the moon rocks. Then hitchhike back up the road.

There was enough deer fencing to hold the dogs in and forest critters out, and a sunny vista where you could have put solar panels to power the ancient electricity to run the dubious looking appliances. Enough flat for a teeter totter and some weaves, maybe room to park a pony or a dogwalk, but probably not.

We knew from the moment we both set foot on it that it was the exact house we've wanted all this time, in the exact right spot. If you asked me to put my finger on a map and find it, this was it. I could have shut my eyes and put my finger down and this still would have been the spot. We tried hard to to buy it. You don't even want to know the creativity involved in financing such a thing, a cabin and a mini cabin without heat in the woods. In the end, even going over the asking price, somebody paid a whole lot more than we could have. At least $75,000 over the asking price was where the bidding war started after we dropped out. That's a lot of short.

As problems go, this one is dumb. Not even a problem. We own a perfectly good house on a perfectly good street and we've owned it for a long time, long enough that it's like a little gold mine, transformed from a shitty little shack in a shitty little neighborhood to vintage beach cottage within walking distance to the ocean, shopping and schools, that's what time does, without even replacing the ripped up floors. We don't have to go anywhere. We don't have to put our stuff in a shopping cart and push it up the gulch to sleep under a tarp. I can walk the dogs on their leashes down the street to check the surf and we have a little deck and a little patch of green out back and the neighbors aren't usually too loud even though all their windows stare down at us all day and all night.

When the dogs heard me crying on the phone with the nice realtor, they climbed up on top of me, while she said, "Well, maybe on the next one." She's a very nice lady. I suspect she has to say this a lot to people. Even Banksy came over and set her head on my knee and licked my fingers. Something she doesn't normally do. None of the dogs had been on the property yet, they didn't even know what they almost had. Or didn't almost had. Just what we wanted for them and for us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry - I was really hoping you would get the house.