So I didn’t buy a house.

Last week, Pseudonymous Friend and her husband clued me in to a house for sale on their street. I was feeling low and have been struggling for the better part of the semester, but I confidently marched into the office of the local realtor who sells quirky houses. I asked him to have a look at my place, to give me some long-term advice in the hopes that I could sell my house in two years. But, I added, I’d like to see that house for sale.

I spent all weekend freshening up my house. I patched a hole in a wall and painted a hallway. I filled in potholes in the driveway. I dusted cobwebs from deep corners. I threw open the windows and dusted the cobwebs from the side of the house. I wiped down cabinets, vacuumed up dog hair, mopped again and again. Standard spring cleaning, even if it was still cold. I scooped the dog yard. I raked out the front yard until the ivy popped through again. I started Friday morning and by Sunday night my bones ached. My house looks good, though. And I was able to be honest with the kids and get their blessing. I promised them I wouldn’t give up our current house unless a new house was really, really suitable  for us. They trust me, and I don’t take that trust lightly.

The realtor’s walk-through of my house was encouraging. He pointed out a few small jobs that can make a big difference, and he assured me that there are some $$$ jobs (painting the exterior, redoing the driveway) that don’t have to be done.

We then looked at the house for sale. It’s like mine–quirky!–but smaller, and even better quality than mine, with a much smaller driveway and hardly any yard to mow. I liked what I saw. I liked it a lot. As we finished the walk-through, his assistant let him know that an offer had already been made and accepted on the house. So that was that.

He was bummed for me, more bummed than I was. I stood in the the hallway, looking through the large kitchen window that offered a view that went on for miles. It was beautiful. I would have been really happy there. He rattled off other properties for sale. I turned each one down–that road is too busy, the houses are too close together on that other street. “There will be other houses,” I assured him.

It was disappointing to lose the chance at this nice, low-maintenance house, which I’d only found out about last Wednesday, but I was so surprised at my satisfied response–there are spaces filled with light, there are welcoming refuges, full of promise. I’ve given up on finding the house of my dreams, or the man of my dreams, or the life of my dreams, so this brief opportunity and its loss don’t hurt me. They buoy me, actually. There is hope. I can get the hell out of here. Out of this current house, out of this, whatever this is, this funk, this prison. It’s not going to happen now. But it’s out there. I got a glimpse.

This evening, Daughter took a dog and climbed the hill in the woods behind our house to the street behind us. I took another dog up the street and kept walking until our paths crossed. We said hi, as if we were friends that ran into each other, then we walked back to our house through the woods. She pointed out the best way down. She pointed out the deer paths. She stopped in the stick house she’s built to replace the one she built when she was 4. “Do you fit in there?” I asked. She does. It even has a spy hole, to see people. “What people do you see?” I asked. “You, when you come home,” she said.

As we made our way to the front door she said, “This house belongs to you, but this area is mine.” It’s true. She owns the place. It is her home.

So I didn’t buy a house today. I probably shouldn’t have bought a house today. But I felt like I could have bought a house today. And that’ll do, for now.