His new house overlooked almost an acre of land, right in the middle of the city. And he bought it for peanuts, compared to some of the SUV Yuppie folks who were paying twice as much for the same square footage. They paid that price because it was in a "better neighborhood" and provided them with social contacts. Contacts which he had quit concerning himself with so long ago. They all drove their perfect little kids to the perfect little private school while talking on the smallest cell phones available on the market. He was always amazed that, as they sat in that long line of traffic to pick up their perfect kids each day, they left their engines running on those monster Cadillac and Lincoln beasts while they chatted away on those damned phones. It could be a perfect fall day, around 64 degrees with a breeze of wonderment and a smell of cleanliness in the air; and they would be sitting in that line for over half an hour with the windows rolled up and the A/C running and talking on that fucking phone. Just another reason why they hate us.
He'd told his wife, the last time they moved, that she might as well dig a hole in the back yard, because he would never move again. But here he was; again. Boxing all the accrued crap up. Getting excited about the new location. Even though it was only one solid mile from where he was living now. He'd moved so many times that he now knew that it did not matter if you moved one mile or one thousand miles. As they say, no matter how far the plane travels, when it lands, it's still going to be you getting off.
So he had gone through the meetings with the Real Estate lady. He actually liked her a lot. Maybe too much. She was nearing 50 but she was beautiful. He had predicted, over ten years ago, that women would replace all the salespeople in his business just as they had taken over the Real Estate business. But it hadn't happened. At least, not yet. Who could explain why? Was it because women were the known experts over the home while men were the known experts over the money? He supposed that was it. And he didn't care if it hair lipped the Pope to say it out loud. If they were good at it, let the ladies make the money. He wanted everyone to make more money if they wanted it and made it honestly.
He broke all the rules when he bought this new house. He called the folks selling the house, after doing some film noir investigative work to find their names. They, too, had moved just down the road. The husband was a structural engineer and the wife was a mother of many children. They needed a bigger home for the grandkids. When he called, the engineer’s wife answered the phone and he could hear a piano in the background. Someone was playing a Cole Porter song, and playing it quite well. It was the sixtyish engineer. When the engineer got to the phone, he said, "I hope you don't mind me calling you, but I had some questions." The sixtyish engineer was happy to have the call and they became friends. The engineer said, "Hell, I can tell you more about that house than any Real Estate agent will ever be able to tell you." He liked this guy. A lot.
The engineer said he'd be glad to meet him at the house and tell him whatever he wanted to know. So a time was set, after the contract was agreed upon. He had offered the engineer a few grand less than the selling price, and was concerned that it would piss him off. Have you ever noticed how money changes everything? It can happen to the best of relationships. But the engineer was happy to have the deal settled and was happy to bring his wife with him when the buyer brought his wife to the empty house.
Tales were told of the wildlife in the back yard. There was the story of the red fox who lives back there, and the skunks and the coons and the deer who would wander around in that wide-eyed way that deer are known to do. He was looking forward to days in the future, sitting up on that high, high deck and watching this alleged wildlife. When it was really his house. When he and his wife would move in and it would be complete. It was her idea, after all, and he was doing this to please her more than anything else.
He had gotten a /msg from a user recently asking, "How do you really make a marriage work?" He thought of this as a good example. Not moving would have been easier. But it would make his wife happy to move, and she'd been as nice as the day they met ever since it came up and they had found this house. It’s funny how old married couples can go for weeks hardly touching each other, and then fall in love all over again. (You should remember that when you start thinking about divorce.)
At first, they were looking at much more expensive, newer homes, in those richer neighborhoods. But close inspection showed that they were built like crap. It was hard to say where the cutoff was; but it seemed as if houses built before 1990 were built much better than those afterwards. You want to know a quick way to tell if a house is built like crap? Look up in the attic and see what sort of wood is used underneath the roof. If it's treated lumber, you're good to go. If it's plywood, you're not in too much danger. If it's particle board, walk away. Contractors have become too removed from the homeowner. You should have one guy who is in charge of building your house and you should be able to trust him. Dealing with strangers will get you reamed more often than not.
So he was glad that the previous owner was not a stranger now and that he was an engineer who actually understood structure and workmanship. He asked the engineer if he thought a hot tub would be possible on the deck outside the master bedroom on the top level. The engineer was honest and said, "Not without some extra support. You'd be better off to build a deck on the lower level and put it there." He was growing to really love this old guy and to also love the thought of living in the home he and his wife has cared for all those years.
Sometimes life is funny.
You think you're in your darkest hour
When the lights are coming on in the House of Love.
Now it’s a few weeks later and he’s all moved in. Last night he opened the door to his downstairs office (where he spends more time on this web site than he does working; just like in the old house) and there they were. Two huge deer. Standing there in his new back yard. Looking at him as if he were the intruder.
Someone told him the best way to keep the deer away, if they are ruining your landscaping or your garden, is to piss in the spot where you last saw them.
He does not see a problem complying with this directive.
Lyrics by Amy Grant from her duet with Vince Gill.
This is a wonderful love song if you’ve not heard it.