For the past two years, Jake and I have lived in a two-bedroom, 900-square-foot apartment with one bathroom. As of last April, we added Ripley the sixty-pound dog to that equation. Then, in November, we got married, and once you get married, people assume you’ll do “adult” things like have babies and buy expensive cars. We did neither.
In fact, we wouldn’t have even gone house shopping if not for my claustrophobic stress levels—and the boxes filled with unused wedding gifts in my so-called “office,” which doubled as Jake’s closet. We thought maybe we’d consider buying a house in June of 2012. Then, in April, crushed by the weight of our belongings and lack of yard, Jake said, “I think we should start looking at houses.”
Was I initially excited? Not really, but it was no one’s fault. Well, on second thought, it was the fault of real estate developers and builders in the Phoenix metro area. From what I had seen at friends’ homes and while house shopping with my parents, the houses here were built too close together. (For instance, if you need to borrow a cup of sugar in Phoenix, all you have to do is open a window and yell into your neighbor’s kitchen. You pass the cup of sugar in a similar fashion, by merely reaching arms across.)
Furthermore, the houses here had no character. They were faceless, soulless, and lacking in history or sentimentality. Based on my claustrophobia and my love of all things classic, I felt a teaspoon of hopelessness as we set out to shop.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. We started with models in neighborhoods at the base of the White Tank Mountains. The models were excellent (that is their intended purpose). However, lack of yard and far off location deterred me and suffocated my enthusiasm. There were the occasional nightmare houses, too: the one that smelled like cat urine, for instance, or the one that had a carpeted master bathroom with no door separating the toilet from the rest of the room. I had visions of waking up in the morning to Jake on the porcelain throne. Shiver.
Then, we did find a house we liked with a perfect view; a nice, updated interior; and a family who seemed happy to move. It was located at the base of the Estrella Mountains, which was fine, except I knew it would be a lifestyle change. No longer would we be within five minutes of our friends, our gym, or our dog park. We put in an offer regardless, and I prayed and prayed that we were doing the right thing. God is a smart guy, however, and He allowed the offer to fall through. Back to square one …
Two days later, Jake was looking through the listings sent from our incomparable real estate agents Andy and Cristina Altman when he said, “This one. We have to go see this one. Today.” I was still frustrated, and unlike my husband, I take longer to recover from disappointment. I went along for the ride, though, and as soon as we walked into the one-story ranch on West Westview (ah, redundancy), I was in love. I had the distinct feeling that This Is Our House. We put in an offer that afternoon. We finally get the keys this week.
From 900-square-feet we will grow to 2800. From two bed, one bath, we have become four bed, three bath, with a massive kitchen and a large backyard, vacant of nearby neighbors. There isn’t even a house behind us to block the view of blue Arizona sky, and I feel like a spoiled rich girl.
Will there be emotional repercussions? Yes, and not just for Ripley, who’s been pouting all day because of the strange cardboard monsters in the living room. Surely, she suspects we’re going on another vacation and leaving her behind, but I told her we aren’t leaving. We are taking her to doggy paradise, but she still frowns, because true, there is a light veil of melancholy.
We’re leaving her first home. We’re leaving the first place where Jake and I became an official and legal “us.” We have memories here on Old Litchfield Road, and we always will. However, we are very adult now, married and such.
It’s time for a bigger house with more space where we can’t hear our neighbor sneeze through the wall. It’s time to find room for our wedding gifts. It’s time to become homeowners and finally, for the first time, have room to stretch our legs in our own home sweet home where we are free to live happily ever after!