House Hunters

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Not long ago, I was bemoaning the fact that open houses were stealing our weekends.

At first, I was just humoring my husband, who was nursing a new obsession. But a funny thing happened on the way to free snacks, it became a fun activity — for the whole family.

The kids roll out of bed Sunday morning and want to know how many homes we’re going to that day, in what parts of town and if any of them have an indoor pool (they really enjoy looking way outside our price range). They like going and they like going with us, and this is no small thing because…. they’re teenagers. This makes me stupidly happy, especially because there are very, very, very few non-eating related activities that can drag No. 3 away from his beloved Fortnite.

When No. 1 left for college a few months ago, it made me more acutely aware of the Grand Canyon-sized gap between the sweet, chubby little boy who would squeeze next to me onto our not over-sized enough chair and the gangly, quiet teenager who now roams the house — earbuds firmly wedged in place — looking for food. He screams and laughs and chatters nonstop while he’s playing Fortnite with his buddies, but if I try to engage in some non-video game or non-sports conversation, I get the most monosyllabic answers. He’s not unlike that Michigan J. Frog character who would be all dance-y and animated… until some outsider looked his way and then all he’d do is croak.

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And while it’s a little awkward for him to dance through open houses like that, I love seeing him so excited.

“So you actually like going to open houses?” I asked him one day.

“Yeah,” he said, staring at his phone.

“Why?”

“I like the prospect of living in a new house,” he said.

And yes, he did use the word “prospect” because nonstop video game playing hasn’t yet completely destroyed his brain.

Equally exciting is that all this house hunting has resulted in a greater appreciation of our own humble abode because the houses we’ve toured have been overpriced and weird, especially the very obviously flipped ranch home with the polished gray, car-showroom concrete floors and that smelled — no joke — like the previous owner was a fish monger who gutted carp in the back bedroom.

“If they redid all the surfaces and it still smells like this, that stench is not going away,” I whispered to my husband. “They have to disclose if someone died here, right?”

Then we come home to our house, which smells slightly better than Pike Place Market Southwest, and the laundry room filled with clothes that need to be put away — but with ample counter space for folding — and the place seems pretty OK.

“You know,” my husband said, surveying the dog hair tumbleweeds and dirty walls, “our house really isn’t that bad.”

Bonus: All this poking around other people’s homes has inspired my husband to fix things that have needed repair since we moved in. Nineteen years ago.

So yeah, I’d say I’m really coming around to this open house stuff.

 

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