It's becoming morbidly fascinating observing how Cathy and I go about looking at houses. After being married for four years, and being together for nearly eight, it's kind of hard to get surprised by what your spouse will do, but we're managing to accomplish just that.
There is now another house we're looking at. This caught me a touch by surprise. After our last attempt, which ended in failure, I thought we would take it easy for awhile. Or if we were going to look at houses it would be just to get a better feel for what we're looking for in a place. That we were going to hold off until the spring when the timing would be better. There would likely be more houses available for sale, plus whatever we might need in the way of furniture and whatnot could be bought in July and sent up via sea lift.
But there we were last night, in a house going over their utilities costs and Cathy looking across the table expectantly at me waiting for me to make a bid on the place. Which was the point where I got us the heck out of there before I suddenly found myself even more deeply in over my head than I felt at that point.
Cathy wants a house. I understand that. I've been converted to the cause now and agree that owning a house would be better than continuing to pay rent. But for me this is a slow, methodical process. We look at lots of places, we get a feel for what we like in a place, we negotiate until we get the best deal, wait for the optimal timing and then go forward.
Cathy would like a place as soon as possible. Not just any old place, of course. She does want a nice place. However, I think the closing date on this place is horrific; Cathy sees it as only a minor obstacle. I'm not sure we can afford it without dipping into our RRSPs to make a down payment, something I oppose. Cathy's fine with it. Our maximum price is about $10,000 apart. Cathy can list things she likes about the place and things she's not 100 per cent fond of. All I can muster up is "It has no soul."
Which, I appreciate, is not helpful at all. I wish I could add something more constructive about the layout, the use of space and whatnot. But I feel nothing for this place. At all. It's like the devil visited the place and stole its soul or something.
Here's the heart of the difference, I think. I want my first house to be really cool. Some people look for the number of bedrooms, heating bills, view and whatnot. I tend to look for character and soul. The place I grew up in St. John's was a standard, boring, subdivision house. I always wanted to live downtown, because that's where the cool houses were. When we lived together on Bond Street it was a standard row house. But damn it, the place had personality. Our neighbour across the street, Anne, had an awesome house and I'm thrilled some of my friends bought it and going to go wonders to the place.
It doesn't have to be an awesome house like that. But I want it to have some kind of personality. Which is indefinable until you actually walk into a place. The first place we looked at had that. The condo we looked at (and rejected) didn't. And this place just feels soulless.
Cathy, on the other hand, doesn't mind so much. Or perhaps that's unfair. She just thinks there is a very limited number of those types of houses available in Iqaluit and when they do pop up, they'll be well out of our price range. So why not take a house that's solid, that we can do up whatever way we want and that we don't love. She also argues that you make the house into one you love. Which is fair enough.
Out of curiosity, I asked people on Facebook if you shouldn't love a house you're about to spend obscene amounts of money on. Unsurprisingly, the results were split, with some saying "absolutely" with others saying that such beasts are rare. One living in Fort Mac said I should be glad we're not paying half a million for a trailer home. It's all in the perspective, I guess.
I just wish I liked the house we might be spending the rest of our time in the north living in more than I do right now.
1. Trust yourself (live) - Blue Rodeo
2. Sympathy for the devil - The Rolling Stones
3. Poets - The Tragically Hip
4. Broken arrow - Robbie Robertson*
5. Some unholy war - Amy Winehouse