Dear Mrs. Crafty,
Let's talk about house hunting. We've seen so many houses: Cape cods with additions stacked on top and closets leading to the roof. Victorians updated in the '80s, with shag-carpeted bathrooms and Pepto-Bismol-pink walls. Mid-century ranches with updated kitchens but the original, 1950s-era furnace and aluminum-framed, single-pane windows. Bungalows with master bedrooms connected to nurseries. Suburban dream houses gone to waste in the downturn, stinking of moldy basements. Finally, we saw our future house but had our hopes dashed briefly: The traditional two-story house with a great floor plan, beautiful lot, and family-friendly neighborhood that got pulled off the market when we wanted to make an offer.
House-hunting led to some soul-searching for me. I'd gotten used to living in the city of Chicago, commuting by train and taking cabs for special occasions, strolling for miles through dense neighborhoods, never more than a few blocks from a neighborhood market, coffee shop or bus stop. I liked being a young, urban professional who tried new restaurants, went to street festivals, and popped in to the Art Institute on random days.
But this whole "return to my Ohio roots" is all about focusing on family, affordable living, a little bit of green space, and a comfortable life. I've been a married, self-sufficient adult for many years now, and I'm starting to see a lot of logic in (gasp) THE SUBURBS. Especially since my office is in the 'burbs, my parents live nearby, and we have old friends in the area. But it's hard to make that transition to a new sort of life.
My teenage self is all, "You're not cool!" And my current self responds, "Correct. I like baking, short commutes, and goofy faces to make my baby giggle." I'm recognizing that I can be a creative, family-focused person, and those two qualities don't contradict each other. Nor do they require me to live in a big city or in a dilapidated house.
Do I still want to try new restaurants and soak up local culture? Sure. But is that my routine five days a week? No. I'm in a pretty dedicated "family and domesticity" phase.
Along the way in this house hunt, I've asked, "How will I know when we find the right place? Will lightning strike? Will angels sing? Will I get a tingly feeling in my toes?"
Just when I was at my wit's end, a tiny glimmer of hope emerged. We grabbed on to the mythical beast called "Suburbia" and rode it to home-buying victory. We made an offer on the traditional two-story and added a heartfelt letter sharing our daydreams for our family. The sellers decided that they were ready to downsize and we agreed on a price. We're hoping to move by late November. It turns out I'm ready for the suburbs.
Dreaming of my future home,
Photos from the Library of Congress here, here and here