You have your births. Your deaths. Your “hey pal, can you spare a kidney?”
But in all the test of a tried and true friendship – the real benchmark just might be “would you like to house hunt with me?”
A hunting we will go. I’ve been recruited to ride shotgun with a dear friend while she travels the tri-county area in search of the “perfect home,” so I know well of what I speak.
House hunting is among the major stress points in life. House hunting for people you love: doubly so.
On one hand, money is relative. Or more importantly, irrelevant. Seeing as how none of it’s coming out of your pocket, it’s easy to get a bit too adept at traveling outside the budgetary comfort zone.
This is how you start out looking at fairly reasonably priced homes and in no time at all are driving around neighborhoods with guard gates and automobiles in the drive that cost more than your annual income.
It is, after all, nice to see how the other half lives. (Even if your drive-by does cause them to telephone the neighborhood crime watch in horrified alarm at the idea that “your kind” might creep in.)
There is also a great deal of stress found in the fact that, presuming you actually like your friends, you must constantly struggle with your own best interests. Primarily that they do not move at all.
Home to Hooterville. It is this sense of self-preservation that causes country bumpkins like me to pronounce any region possessing of even a two-lane highway as “questionable” and lock all the car doors as if we are in grave and certain danger around those parts.
After all, can any locale boasting interstate access and multi-story “high rise” buildings really amount to much good? Can a person really thrive in a region completely devoid of an apple butter festival or, at the very least, a pork queen?
Surely it’s all just smog, crime, and cussing on street corners? It’s best, we tell our friends, just to high tail it back to Hooterville where the living is easy – and the taxes are low.
So what if you have to commute an hour and a half each way?
What’s ‘best?‘ This you balance with your desire to have only the best for those you care about – even if the “best” constitutes a “4 br, 2.5 bath” 70 miles from you. It’s going to be awfully hard for you to drop in for coffee now isn’t it?
So you traipse through one house after the next, trying valiantly to find something – anything – right with homes that seem (to you) to be overpriced and possessing of the same solid flaw: None of them are located where you presently live.
A fresh eye. Your fresh eye can be both good, and bad. Good because you see the potential that may not be readily apparent to your beleaguered friend beginning to despair of ever finding a home.
“Look! That big hole in the roof, while perhaps leading to a bit of snow in the kitchen, really lets in a LOT of light!”
Bad because you have the lack of emotional investment (hey, you aren’t going to live there right?) that turns even a seemingly positive aspect of the home into a cause for alarm: “Oh, sure, it LOOKS like a beautiful, wooded lot with a lake view for a song, but my heavens the mosquitos must be the size of Cessnas out here!”
Same old. Meanwhile, all the homes start looking alike. It turns out that as a nation we are not a wildly creative people.
Our homes are essentially alike, right down to the beige carpet and sage green walls. This monotony is broken only occasionally by a blast from the past walking through homes that last saw a paint roller when Nixon was debating Kennedy.
I’m pretty sure we toured the actual home where the Brady Bunch grew up, as evidenced by the burnt orange kitchen and gold plaid family room.
Location. We’ve been up, we’ve been down, we’ve been all around – and still no new house for our friends.
House hunting is all about location, location, location. And when it comes to assisting your friends in leaving you behind, it’s hard to be helpful when your heart, despite all instructions otherwise, keeps leading them home again.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has bad dreams about endless acres of beige carpet. She welcomes comments c/o email@example.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)