compulsive behavior

Several months ago Karl was introduced to, the gigantic online yard sale searchable by item or category or even words like "conversation piece" or "vintage." He immediately began checking for computer games, and we spent multiple evenings after work finding an address where he would trade $20 for a box or bag full of treasures. He thoroughly enjoys the whole process, from finding a good set of games and negotiating a price to exploring different neighborhoods to actually pulling out the games and playing with them. I teased him a lot about his Craigslist addiction... until, with this whole house thing, I got hooked too.

At least once I day I seem to find myself searching for sofas and armchairs, desks, tables, a guest room bed, dining room set, patio chairs, rugs... it's so fun to plan out the different ways I could arrange the new rooms, to think about our life there and the feeling it will have. I usually keep the tabs open for all the pieces I particularly like, leaving them in a row across the top of the screen so I can take them all in at one glance. I like to see what I could buy for $500, or $1,000 - budgeting whether this chair is worth the price, or if it would be better to get that cheaper one and pay more for a bedroom set. I think what's really so great about the whole thing is the sense of possibility, of creativity and treasures waiting to be found. It has been mostly imaginary so far (there is very little room for additional furniture in this apartment) but there is a new coffee table in our living room, and a rug and bench on the porch, and a plant in the dining room.

Karl watches all this and laughs, teasing me when he sees my neat row of finds sitting there on the laptop; but then we both look at each other and smile, understanding.

a marriage of heart and mind

Falling in love with a house is, I think, a lot like falling in love with a person - there's something there that immediately catches your attention, makes you come in for a closer look. Maybe the appearance, or the character, or just how open and friendly they seem... imperfections or flaws can be endearing, or a welcome challenge. As you get to know them a little better, it's really all the possibilities you see that pull you in. With Karl, it was the way I could imagine him spending time with my family, and interacting with people at a party, and playing with our kids, and working with me on a project... my imagined life with him just fit, and the reality has proved even better.

We're now in the negotiations phase of our house hunting process - a phase made slightly more difficult by the fact that I've fallen in love with this house (more info when - if! - we actually have a contract). Karl loves it too, but in a more rational, thought-out way; mine is an instinct-driven, impression-based, emotional, visceral, powerful love. At this point, not only is it hard for me to imagine us in any other house (certainly not any of the others we've seen), it's also painful for me to imagine anyone else in this one. And that doesn't exactly make for a hard-nosed negotiating position. Karl keeps whispering "poker face, poker face!" to me under his breath whenever we're interacting with our realtor, or having anything to do with the sellers, and I do try... not for nothing was I an actress! We've both been praying over this decision, and the house that we do eventually get, quite a bit - and I really do believe that God has His hand on this process for us. I also know, though, that He needs me to be willing to give up this house if it's not the one for us... and most of the time, I know I can.

My parents used to get very worried whenever I'd get my heart firmly and unshakeably set on something as inevitably there would be disappointment, and tears. One Christmas when I was about three, my answer to the "what do you want for Christmas?" question was invariably "A candy cane!" My parents, knowing already the force of my stubborn will, went out and found the biggest candy cane they could - it was a solid stick probably as big around as my little arm. I was absolutely delighted Christmas morning, until I got the wrapping off and took a lick - somehow I'd had an idea in my head of what a candy cane would taste like, and this was NOT it! I have gotten better with this, and do try to check myself, but my first tendency is always to let my emotions run away with me, to immediately start imagining whatever situation playing out perfectly, perhaps with a delightful surprise or two, and maybe a little underlying music swelling up at key moments, as if I lived in a movie (which happened to be another dream of mine. A musical, of course). Mom and Dad used to dread birthdays and Christmases, since the picture in my head would rarely be matched by the actual day. Karl's learned this lesson too, and his calm, collected rational logic goes a long way in balancing my soaring, hopeful dreams.

For now, I'm just hoping that this is OUR house, and that some of those dreams of mine can become reality there. If not, well... Karl may need to deal with the tears, that's all.