Tuesday, May 10, 2011

404. We Live There and There and There, Too

So The Husband and I had actually bid on several houses and been rejected before the stars aligned and we ended up buying our current house two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, we adore this house. We love the location, the big yard, the neighborhood, the schools … but sometimes we still drive by our “other” houses.

The boys probably think we’re a bit wacko when we drive slowly past a lovely Colonial in an adjacent neighborhood and wistfully say, “We almost lived there.” The truth of the matter is, our bids were flat out rejected, without even so much as a counter-offer. We did not almost live there.

One of the houses in particular that we liked was ultimately purchased by a builder and leveled. The resulting McMansion is worth about two million dollars, not our target price point. When we pull up in front of that “other” house, Tall and Short are baffled by Mom and Pop’s bad house-picking abilities.

“Oh, wow, Mommy!” squeals Short from the backseat, “That house is so much better than ours! We shoulda bought it!”

“Yeah, Mom,” concurs Tall as he eyes the owner’s son’s hockey equipment in the driveway, “then I could’ve been a hockey player!”

The Husband and I don’t quite know how to explain that if we lived at this address, we would actually be living in the former tiny cottage and all sharing one bathroom. The most we could’ve afforded to improve the previous rendition of that house would’ve been by buying a new mailbox and perhaps a welcome mat.

“Does the car come with it?” asks Short, noticing the red Porsche parked in front, “Because I might like that car, too!”

Next, we drive past the opposite end of the spectrum to a two-story stone house we bid on, a house that now sits empty with its windows broken and boarded up.

“Why didn’t we buy this one?” asks Tall, “Is this the one that had raccoons living in the attic?”

“That’s right,” I confirm, “but I hear they make great pets.”

“That’s not what my teacher said,” corrects Short, “She said that raccoons are mean and can bite you!” I look at Short’s face in the rearview mirror. He has his hands up like a fierce raccoon and he is baring his teeth and growling.

“She said ‘raccoon,’ not lion,” mocks his older brother.

The stone house is The Husband’s favorite. It was built in the 1920’s, and if it hadn’t been left to deteriorate for the past 50 years, would be pretty fabulous. It’s on a dead-end street, so there’s no traffic, only young families teaching their kids to ride bikes. 

I momentarily picture myself living there, and then I realize I would have a completely different set of friends.  I would go to a different dry cleaner.  The kids would go to a different school.  We would go to a different bookstore.  My life would be the same, but the details would be different.   

“That’s my favorite,” says The Husband redundantly, “Why didn’t we buy that one?”

“Like all the other ones, they turned us down. Remember?”

“But …”

“And it had foundation problems,”

I know,” he sighs.

“And old knob and tube wiring,”

“Not a big deal,”

“The roof was caving in,”

“It was perfect!” The Husband cheers, “We should’ve bought that one. We could be living there right now.”

“Would I have to share my room with a raccoon?” queries Short sincerely.

“Yes,” I reply, “or a lion.”



  1. This is a good warning for me to not turn into a crazy lady driving past the could-have-been houses as we search for one. I don't want to turn into you, MOV! Although I'd bet your house now is better than Casa de Racoon...

    And now I have to get off the computer before I do an internet drive-by of the house we were making an offer on that was then pending inspection to see whether it sold and for how much. At least an internet drive-by doesn't involve seeing how amazingly the new residents (raccoons) are living, and by extension how perfect my life could be if I too had a crumbling foundation and a Porsche in the driveway. I think I might need to run a quick errand. Oh look - there's a drugstore in the neighborhood of that could-have-been house! See you later.

  2. Casa de Raccoon--love it!! And I am not the only one driving by the "Could-Have-Been" houses, remember The Husband and our two sons are right there with me. I guess we are the crazy family driving by instead of just the crazy woman by herself, muttering "Shoulda been mine, shoulda been mine!"

    and I love your phrase "internet drive-by". In our house, if one of the kids is running past, I might reach out and grab them for a hug. In our family, this is now known as a "drive-by hugging".

    thanks for writing!!! :)


  3. This is hillarious! my husband and I have bought a house two years ago too (may 1st 2009!) and we do the SAME thing! We had put an offer on a house that we really liked, and our offer was rejected, we refer to that house as "the blue house that broke up with us".....

  4. Perfect! the house that broke up with us. I am totally using that line now.



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