We have been house-hunting for what seems like years now. Looking for that Next Stop on our life’s tour. Dreaming of a somewhat smaller, quite a bit cooler place, in a hip town a little farther from the cul de sac and suburban sprawl that we’ve been mired in — happily, I will say, but mired in is probably close to right — for the past 22+ years.
That’s been the plan. But now, like the rest of the world in these kooked-out coronavirus times, we’re stuck. Literally, absolutely, and unalterably. We’re not moving anywhere. Not anytime soon.
Which begs an answer to this question: Why do people even plan anything?
Why? Even? Plan? … Ever?
This isn’t to complain. It really isn’t. Our house (never liked that tune, now can’t get it out of my head), this house that we’ve been isolating in for more than a month — it clearly has to be the longest month, for everybody on the planet, in the history of Gregorian months — is a nice place. (I refuse to say a “very, very, very fine house.”) It is, I know, a lot more than many people have. I appreciate it. Really, I do.
I’m grateful that our house is standing, has a relatively new roof, working appliances (including a freezer filled with zip-loc bags of who knows what and a fridge filled with tons of leftover something), doors that close (mostly), electricity, plumbing, an ample supply of toilet paper, and an unfinished basement that allows me enough room (and distance from Mary Jo) to get all grunty and sweaty every morning as I try to work off the boredom and frustration of being trapped in the same damn place for 24 hours a day. Every fricking day. After day, after day.
I’m not complaining, though, honestly. Complaining about your digs these days, even jokingly, is not a good look. Comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres felt the blowback from the politically correct when she likened her place — which I guarantee you is much nicer than our house — to a prison. Never mind that she was joking … or that it was, in almost any other time, pretty damn funny.
“One thing that I’ve learned from being in quarantine is that … this is like being in jail, is what it is,” she said of the place she shares with wife Portia de Rossi. “It’s mostly because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 10 days and everyone in here is gay.”
If you don’t find that funny, that’s the isolation sapping your sense of humor.
But … really. Who wants to spend 24/7 in one place? I moved the car into the cul de sac last weekend so I could clean the garage. It felt like I was taking a road trip.
In truth, this house, our house (arrrgh), is too big for just me, Mary Jo, and the dog. We have two rooms downstairs that are used only when Mary Jo walks through them on her endless laps around the house (her equivalent of my basement routine). We have a guest room upstairs that’s normally occupied, at the most, a few weeks a year. We have another room upstairs, Luke’s, that’s also vacant at the moment, considering he’s trapped in his apartment down in Atlanta finishing his college undergrad career.
(What about that for a college swan song, eh? Stuck in an apartment doing online classes, forbidden to party or go out to a restaurant, with graduation canceled and your folks wanting to video chat you up every day to see if you’re OK. Cruel and unusual, that is.)
This house is just too familiar, too. We’ve been in it for 17 years. I know every squeaky floorboard, every bare spot in the lawn, every place paint is peeling and nail pops are popping, every appliance on its last legs, and every project that needs to be done, including a few adjustments to doors that won’t close without a little wiggling and a nicely timed shoulder shiver. I could walk this place blindfolded. In my sleep.
I’m a zealot when it comes to believing that a little change of place once in a while — and 22+ years in suburbia qualifies as a while — is good for you. Which is why we’ve been looking for another place for a few years.
But … plans. Am I right? With the virus wiggling its devilish little self into every facet of our lives, we’re housebound. And even when we can move about — weeks, months, next year? — it’s not as if we can just leave tire tracks in our driveway (which needs a good power wash, by the way) and tear off for greener pastures. We still don’t know where the heck we’re going.
So, as if we had a choice, we’ll hang here (again, I know, I know, I know; we could have it lots worse), wait until we can start looking again, find an area of the country we want to live in, twiddle our thumbs ’til the real estate market settles, and then figure things out.
We’ll manage with our too-big, too-familiar, too-sickeningly nice house, with its comfortable little mortgage and fraying beige carpeting in its damn cheery subdivision, and we’ll get by with basement workouts and zip-loc leftovers. We do have cable, after all. We have a decent internet connection. The Netflix works. We’ll make it. I know.
If that wi-fi goes, though, then you’re going to hear some complaining.