Friday, April 3, 2009

The American Dream

About a week ago I heard an interview on NPR about the economic crises and how it has affected home owners, potential home buyers, and renters. The expert who was being interviewed who, I believe, may have been a professor at Harvard or Columbia (sadly I can't find the transcript or I would provide more accurate details), was of the opinion that, over the past few decades, the government has propagated the mistaken idea that the "American Dream" is to own a house and some land around it. I hadn't heard about the government promoting that idea but I did hear about it in school growing up. The expert seemed to think that there was no reason to own a house when renting is so convenient and hassle free. Instead of having a nation whose dream is to buy and own a bit of property, his opinion was that our national goal and dream should be to find a good job and work hard at it our entire lives. (I wish I could find the transcript and quote it directly!)

That interview definitely made me think a bit. I have never yet owned a house or any land and I have been renting ever since I got out of college but I certainly have held the dream of owing a little house with a nice piece of property. When I was little, my visions of adulthood definitely involved a house that my husband and I would own, never did I dream of renting a house or apartment for my entire life. 

Quite likely, my dreams and ideals were partly based on my childhood experiences. When my parents married, my mother moved into the house my father had bought a few years prior to their wedding. That little brown house was the one they took me home to from the hospital and the one my father was constantly trying to improve. My first Christmas my parents bought a live tree and after the holiday planted it outside in their yard. A couple of years later, with my brother on the way, my parents started looking for a bigger house, father from town, where they could raise their growing family. They found a beautiful white house on the top of a hill surrounded by Douglas fir forests. My father immediately fell in love with it but my mother thought it was awfully far from town. My father eventually convinced my mom that with a little bit of hard work and paint it could be perfect for our family and they made the move. It has now been over 24 years since they bought the house and my mother is still living there. 

As a child, I loved playing in the large grassy yard and dark forest adjacent to our property. In the summer my brother and I would run through sprinklers and help with the gardening and in the winter we would splash in mud puddles and jump in piles of leaves. 

The summer before my second grade year we moved down to Eugene, Oregon. My mother had been accepted at The University of Oregon to study for her Masters in Linguistics. We rented out our house to another family while we were away and we ourselves rented a small student housing apartment. The first few weeks in Eugene were very hot and I remember my mother giving us delicious sticky popsicles in flavors like banana, root-beer, and lime to help us endure the heat. Despite the fun of adventuring to a new place, I quickly grew very tired of the tiny apartment living and longed to return to our big house and yard up in Bellingham. We lived down in Eugene in the small apartment for 3 years and by the time we moved back I, in my 5th grade mind, was firmly convinced that renting and living in apartments was no fun at all and something to be avoided at all costs. 

However, now that I have grown up a bit and have experienced life in the Bay Area I am not nearly as opposed to renting as I once was. Woodley and I are thrilled to be renting our current house and I grow to love it more and more every day. For me to be happy though I know I need to live close to nature in a place where I can look the window and see trees and grass and flowers. Fortunately we were able to find a house to rent that fulfilled that goal. 

For awhile though Woodley has been feeling that we should have a house of our own. Since houses in the Bay Area are so expensive and since we have talked of spending the summers up in Bellingham, we started looking up there for a house. A little over a year ago we first saw a cute little blue house on Lake Whatcom. As the months went by we continued to see it online and noticed that it wasn't selling. Then, this past December, Woodley arranged for us to have a tour of the house when we were up in Bellingham for Christmas. We liked it best out of all the houses around Whatcom County that we looked at and went back up in March to have it inspected.

Earlier this week, we got a call from our real estate agent who wanted to let us know that another offer came in on the house. They wanted to give us a chance to make an offer also though since we had been looking at it for so long. So, the past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind! Our real estate agent put together the offer for us on Wednesday. Yesterday, after a few frantic hours of searching, we finally found an attorney to look over the documents for us. We signed it and submitted the offer via fax yesterday afternoon. At this moment, we are anxiously awaiting news about it which should come by 9pm tonight. It is very exciting but also very scary. 

It would be so lovely if it worked out for us to buy the house. It is so charming and is right on Lake Whatcom! It even has a little boat house right on the edge of the lake. :) I am dreaming of donning my apron this coming summer and spending my days canning hand picked strawberries and blueberries in it's little kitchen! Let's hope those dreams come true! 

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