When my husband I decided to purchase our house, our lives were quite different from what they are today. I was only starting out in my career, he hadn’t yet caught the entrepreneurial bug and our only child was of the furry four-footed variety. At the time we enjoyed movies played at wall shaking volumes, hosting get togethers, playing pool, and brewing our own beer. Ah, the good old days…
All we wanted was a house located half way between our places of employment with grass for the dog to run on, an open floor plan for entertaining, and a large square room in which we could optimize our surround sound. I preferred an established neighborhood setting as that is what I had grown up in, but something built within the last fifty years. My husband had a few other items on checklist, but nothing uncommon. Our wish list for our first place wasn’t too demanding. Or so we thought.
After touring dozens of homes, I was thrilled when we found a place that met all of my criteria. I wanted to make the offer on the spot. Sure, there were a few things that I would like to alter, but overall it was a great space. Only it wasn’t a great space for both of us. My husband preferred the house next door.
I was shocked. In my opinion, we would need to gut the entire second story in order to make that space work. Why go through the trouble, when my pick had better bones? His answer? He couldn’t stand the kitchen. Okay he had a point. The kitchen in my pick was pretty awkward, but slap on a new counter-top, re-finish a few cabinets, and presto! Problem solved! Oh the simplicity of living with a dual income and no kids.
I might have eventually worn him down, made him compromise his wish list, but then we learned that there was another offer on the table. We decided not to enter into a bidding war on a property that wasn’t perfect for us both. We didn’t want to be forced to pay more when one of us would be reminded that they settled each time they looked out of the window. We chose to walk away from both properties. It was our choice, but I was thoroughly disappointed and more than a little frustrated.
Several tours later, we found another property that met much of our criteria to the delight of our Realtor. The kitchen was still less than ideal, there was no clear home theater room, and the location was skewed in the hubby’s favor. We might have been exhausted from endless shopping, but decided we could make it work. At least for a few years.
Missing out on the first house was the best bad news I’ve ever gotten.
The house we chose sits surrounded by some of the best neighbors a person could wish for. Some have sons and daughters similar to my children in age and temperament. I get to sit back as the pack runs between yards. I know that as long as I keep a watchful eye out for their offspring, my neighbors will return the favor. Others have teenagers eager to earn babysitting or yard keeping dollars. We gleefully contribute to their causes. I am, after all, a supporter of tomorrow’s entrepreneur, especially when their efforts give me more free time.
Thinking of where I am now versus where I thought I should be, I am reminded of lyrics by the Rolling Stones:
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
I was saddened when we were forced to walk away from that first house. I thought I was going to have settle for a paltry runner-up. I worried the loss would leave me unsatisfied for years to come, yearning for the one that got away. Only now, watching my children play and seeing the joy on their faces, can I look back and see that what I interpreted as bad luck at the time, was actually completely its opposite. We might not have gotten what we originally wanted, but we made the best of what came our way afterwards. As a result, we found what we truly needed.