Monday, June 20, 2011

Conversation starter

No doubt I live an odd life.  Without getting into details because it would take a long, long time to type out the entire explanation, I live in my ex-husband's house in a long-term temporary arrangement at his request.  It has to do with kids, travel, business, money, real estate markets bottoming out.  You know, the usual.  Everyone who hears the story thinks I'm a little nuts, but in time they realize that the arrangement is beneficial for everyone.

Well, almost everyone.  When this plan was presented to me, I somehow thought that my boyfriend would enjoy seeing less of me.  As a lifelong bachelor he's doesn't really "need" to see me every day.  He lives alone and is one of those people who rarely suffers from boredom.  I, on the other hand, went from a house with 4 kids to college with a roommate and dozens of other girls on the hall, to marriage with 4 kids coming in rapid succession.  Being by myself is a luxury in the small increments that it comes, but for long periods...I'm not proud it, and I'm not going to say I was lonely per se, but...I like a little bit of company.

As it turns out, my boyfriend has not been thrilled about the "space" this has created.
Learning this came as a bit of shock.

We've since had little conversations - actually more like passing comments - that when this arrangement comes to its conclusion, we'll live together.  Looking back on our conversations I have to admit that it's been assumption on my part - not something explicitly discussed, much less actually agreed upon.

One day in mid-May we went to the movies and on the way home I was pointing out different bungalows I liked along the way.  Parma is riddled with cute, tiny bungalows with small, quaint yards.  I think I told him that I liked the front porches and the idea of spending evenings sitting out there.  I may have mentioned that lawn maintenance isn't something I want to have to spend lots of time on.  He asked what made a bungalow a bungalow, and I think I stumbled through some general qualities.  That evening I did a Google search to show him more definitively what's so neat about a bungalow.  I found myself drooling over floor plans and I was thrown back in time to when I would pore over home plans the way other girls would dream about weddings.

Several days later we were given the prompt
Make a wish list layout today, or pick one goal or  and create a page about it.
Having gone back and peaked at one particular house plan a half dozen time in the course of those 3 or 4 days, I knew what list I wanted to make.  My wish list is about home.  And my future.  And the peace and contentment that I see there.

Again.  Not in love with the design.  The scale is off.  I like the colors, but the picture needs to be bigger, the tilt is gratuitous (isn't all scrapbooking bordering on gratuitous??) and it needs just a little extra punch.

But that's not the point of this post.  What I love about this layout is the fact that it started a conversation between my boyfriend and I.  I don't know if he knew that owning a home was anything that would interest me.  I have long put it out of my head as something that I could never afford, and since I couldn't afford it I wasn't going to "waste time" day dreaming about the possibility.

Coincidentally, a week or so after this layout was made one of our semi-regular customers was telling me a story about a Chinese exchange student staying at his home.  She asked him, if he didn't mind,  to tell her how much his house would cost.  He said it was hard to know, as they had purchased it in the late 1970s, and the real estate market is still highly unpredictable, but he would guess around $140,000.  I think my mouth may have dropped a bit.  I don't know what his house is like, but I know the area he lives in, and it's nice.  Older homes, mature trees, good schools...  I had expected more.  A lot more.  That night I started looking at real estate websites and was pleasantly surprised at what homes are now going for.  There are beautiful, established homes that really are priced at $130-$140K.

While I was looking at these houses I decided to show one to Kerig.  More "Hey, did you know you could get a house like this for this price??" than "Hey, let's buy a house!"  We were instant messaging at the time, so he was off doing his own thing and I was pretty much window shopping all evening, with little bits of conversation thrown in here and there.  At one point I was talking about something and he answered with something like "Pretty much anything that has to do with house decisions is going to be your call."  I was confused by the statement, and assumed initially that he meant "If you're going to buy a house, you should decide what you want and get it."  But that's not what he meant.  He meant that he wasn't the one who had big opinions and so he would defer to me.  He was telling me that I could pick.

This turned into a very cursory conversation about home ownership, mortgages, living arrangements, the future in general.  Its not that we haven't talked about the future in general, but we haven't started to get specific about it.  I'm not crediting my layout 100% for this conversation.  And certainly the fortuitous comment from my customer helped, but ultimately I will say this: It opened a door.  It allowed me to say what my dreams are.

Reflecting on my dreams and scrapbooking them?  Therapeutic.
The conversation that it helped start? Wonderful.

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