Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Recent Developments, Part II: Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome

On Saturday, just as I was starting to feel halfway normal, our landlady told us she's selling the house.

Background: The house we live in is a triplex. We have the middle apartment. Our landlady lives in the upstairs, which is slightly smaller but presumably has an even better view. The downstairs apartment used to be occupied by a couple of loud and obnoxious yahoos, but our landlady finally evicted them in January and now a relatively quiet guy with a dog lives there.

More background: Our lease runs through the end of July. Thanks to Arwen's dauntless research, I now have a clear understanding that [unless we break windows and bounce checks like the yahoos] no one can kick us out before then, even if the house is sold. But then the new landlord could ask us to leave if he/she wanted to remodel or move into this apartment or just for any old reason.

So, when our landlady, Starina, a/k/a The Nicest Person in the World [so nice that she waited until the end of the school year to avoid disrupting MG's life more than necessary] broke the news on Saturday, our family had a quick impromptu conference, wherein we all wept and wailed for a short time, not just at the prospect of moving (all those boxes!), but at the possibility of leaving our apartment with the view and the short walk to RW's school and the huge if slightly wild backyard.

Now, both RW and MG have spent parts of the year grieving for our old life in Seattle and, in particular, for our old house, tiny and weirdly-arranged as it was. It was in a great neighborhood, it had a front porch, and it had the best next-door neighbors in the world. And it was ours. RW has said outright that she's not ready to sell it yet, and MG similarly seems to take comfort that the house is still really ours, even if other people are living in it right now.

So I was taken aback at how attached both of them seemed to have become to this apartment.

"Well, you know how it is," RW explained. "Sometimes you don't know how much you like something till you might not have it any more."

"I never want to leave," MG declared. "We can't leave this house."

"You really like it that much?" I asked incredulously.

"YES!" they more or less chorused.

"Well," I said, not really thinking as I spoke, "Maybe we could buy it. Let's call Starina and ask how much she wants for it."

We all absorbed this idea for a moment. Then the Mermaid Girl ran for the phone and held it up. "Call her!" she said. "Call her! Right now!"

"We might not be able to afford it," we warned her.

She considered this. Then, "I know!" she said. "We could sell the Seattle house and buy this one!"

Now RW and I were both gaping at her. "MG," the Renaissance Woman said slowly, "I want to ask you something. Not that you really have this choice, because Mommy and I will make the decisions. But if a fairy came and said you could stay here or move back to the Seattle house, which would you pick?"

She did hesitate, but just for a moment. Then she said, quietly but resolutely, "This house."

So RW called Starina and asked about the price. She also offered to look after the house for Starina while she travels if she decides not to sell it yet. Starina seemed pleased at the idea of us buying it, but she hasn't gotten back to us with a price or even a definite decision about selling.

Meanwhile, RW and I started thinking about triplexes in general, which, it turns out, are more affordable even than a townhouse as long as you're willing to be a landlord. I've spent long and absorbing hours online in the last few days looking at other triplex units for sale, for comparison and just in case this one doesn't work out.

For now, we're in limbo once again. We could wait it out and see if the new landlord lets us stay; we could stay and look after the place for Starina if she doesn't sell; we could buy the place and stay on as the new owners. Or, if we can't afford her asking price, we might buy another triplex. Or we could even rent somewhere else, though the instability of being at the mercy of yet another landlord's whims and/or life crises isn't appealing right now.

Meanwhile, we're spinning dreams: what we could do with the yard. Where we'd put everything if we ever have enough money to take over the basement apartment. Which of our friends might want to live here as tenants, or even go in with us on it.

We have to remind ourselves: this isn't necessarily going to happen. We didn't even know last week that we wanted it to happen. We're afraid of wanting it too much, and jinxing things.

I'm even kind of afraid of posting this post, lest the Fates notice.

But what the heck; here goes...


OpenID peripateticpolarbear said...

Ooh! I hope it works out!

11:40 AM  
Blogger heather said...

sounds stressful, but potentially very good. here's another set of good thoughts coming over!

12:38 PM  
Blogger JM said...

wow! very stressful, yes...but also potentially awesome!

12:55 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Fates? What Fates? There's nothing at all to see here that Fates would notice.

(But my fingers are quietly crossed for you!)

5:42 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Housing stress, I know it well. I'll cross my toes for you (the better that the Fates don't see them).

6:26 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Crossing inconspicuous appendages here, too.

7:24 PM  

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