August 26, 2013


Above: Micah, inspecting a MacGyver-ed swing set at a house we toured yesterday. I'm still not over how tall the trees are here.

This weekend was all about new approaches. The Whole30 can do a number to your social life, so we've had to rethink ways to be "out and about" that aren't grocery shopping (or bar-hopping). So... we went to the mall for some leisurely window-shopping. I can't remember the last time I went to the mall without some Thing I had to materialize from the stores at hand, some Mission I had to Accomplish before leaving. This was a whole different game. There was future-house-furniture-daydreaming, people-watching, and Whole30-compliant snacks when the food court started to smell a bit too appetizing. 

Then we came home and tried a new approach to food prep: mass protein grilling. Micah did the heavy lifting, seasoning chicken (salt-and-pepper breasts and BBQ thighs), beef (steaks for dinner, Mexi-flavored flank steak for later), and even some rabbit we scored at the Farmers Market. It's going to make the rest of Week 2 so much more convenient - all we have to do now is reheat and pair with an appropriate vegetable.

On Sunday, we tried a new approach to house-hunting. See, we ended up falling in love with the first house we toured right before I left for Michigan. It was pretty indicative of all the listings we were looking at: older, needed some repairs, but on large (0.5+ acres), beautiful, wooded lots. We put in an offer as I was leaving, and started the process of getting approved for a complicated loan (a 203k, which would let us roll up to about $25,000 of necessary repairs into the mortgage loan), and navigating the bureaucracy of buying a foreclosure.

In short, it was like watching a car accident in slow-motion. Statutes of the loan would conflict with the contract, and no one knew which took precedence, because no one really had a lot of experience with a 203k, so paperwork was a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of dance. At some point, the property's bank stopped accepting eSignatures, and I had no access to a printer at the cabin. I signed a blank sheet of paper a few different ways, wrote out numerals for changing dates, took a picture of it with my phone, and Photoshop-signed paper after paper after paper.

We powered through it all though, excited that the price was low enough that we could afford a 203k, and confident that there would be money left over from big repairs to spend on more frivolous items, like a washer and dryer, or wood floors. Micah was such a champ, fielding emails, making persistent phone calls, researching contractors, and reporting back to me on our progress at the end of each long day. And when we finally hired a contractor to come out to the property to confirm that $25,000 would be enough to make the house livable, he identified at least $35,000 worth of damage without even having access to the crawl space, or working electricity in parts of the house. It was a crushing disappointment; it was a huge, silent relief. We pulled out of the contract, and took a much-needed break from house stuff.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I'm starting to get the itch again, and starting to look at the same kinds of houses. We drive by a few; some are in iffy neighborhoods, some are just too far away, none of them inspire us to attempt an offer again. One night, I was so frustrated, I looked at every single listing in Durham and our price range. Every new-build and ghetto-mansion. Properties I had only glossed over before, with my "older house in woods that needs love" blinders on. I found a few options, and was almost hesitant to show them to Micah. But he had gone through all that heartbreak too, and was open to something different.

So, yesterday we toured something different. A house that's a whole year younger than I am. It was surreal, and eye-opening, and pretty awesome, actually. Afterwards, I wanted a drink so bad - one of the first times since starting the Whole30 that I've had a craving for alcohol. I wanted to go to our favorite wine bar, split a bottle, and daydream with Micah about how our lives could look in that kind of house. We didn't do that, of course. Not the drinking part. But we are starting to daydream again. And this time, it's for something different.