Monday, June 20, 2011

Eyes Wide Shut

After several months of searching, the Boy finally bought a house. I was in Indiana so I couldn't go with him to see it. But he told me all about it over the phone. There was a laundry list of issues and it was going to be a bit of work to fix it up, but he was pretty convinced about it so he went ahead and made the offer.

When I got home from Indiana, he took me to see it. The house was a complete disaster. The kitchen cabinets were barely hanging onto the soffits and the countertop was split in half. There were no appliances to speak of. The downstairs bathroom had a broken toilet and grungy wallpaper and floor tile. The mirror was ripped off the wall, which left a gaping hole leading right into the living room. The carpet was torn out of the master bedroom and only the particle board floors remained.

Aside from the cosmetic issues, there were tons of structural problems. The house used to be split into two apartments, so there were two furnaces and two water heaters - one set upstairs and one set in the basement. Most of the units had been stolen by the previous tenants so there was no functional heat, air conditioning or water in the house. Plus there were pipes and electrical wires hanging out of the walls where the upstairs apartment's kitchen used to be. Of course, the Boy explained how all of this could easily be fixed.

Then we went into the basement. There were literally puddles of water on the floor. All older homes have leaky basements, the Boy explained to me. And then there was the graffiti on the wall. A giant penis drawn in red and some sort of Nazi quotations in blue. The former tenants were just some crazy college kids, according to the real estate agent. The Boy said that he could just paint right over it.

After a complete tour of the house, we did not find one room that would be considered functional. Basically, he planned to gut everything and start over. As much as I tried to get on board with the new place, it just didn't work for me. I really wanted to support the Boy, but it seemed like he was overlooking a lot of problems with the house, not to mention the cost to repair them.

"This house has a lot of issues," I explained to him after our tour. "You know, it's not too late to change your mind." But the Boy would have no part of it. I could see his brain was already fixating on all of the work to be done and the order in which he would do it.

A few days later, he scheduled the home inspection. He called me at work on Friday to give me the quick update. The inspector found some mold in the basement, but the Boy assured me that it wasn't a big deal. The inspector sent a sample to the lab and he would find out what type of mold it was.

Admittedly, I am no expert in home renovations, but anyone who has ever watched an episode of House Hunters on HG-TV can tell you that mold in a basement is a bad thing. For me, it was a deal breaker and it gave the Boy exactly the out he needed with the Bank. But he just kept on going with his plans as if everything was fine.

I started to wonder if maybe I was overreacting to the whole mold situation, so I talked to my family about it. Then I talked to my girlfriend. Everyone else had the same reaction that I did. Turn and run away now. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. (Or in this case, hand over $95,000 for a house full of mold.)

I was feeling more and more irritated by the whole situation. If everyone else can see that buying this house is a bad idea, why can't the Boy see it? It is so frustrating to watch someone you love make a bad decision when there is nothing you can do to stop them. The next night, the Boy came over for dinner and I tried a different plan of attack.

"So, what if we were married or planning to live together," I began. "We would be having a huge fight about this house. How would we handle that?" I asked him.

"Well, if we were in that situation then I would have to make different decisions," he responded.

That was pretty much the understatement of the century. As much as I appreciate the Boy's unique perspective, I am getting pretty tired of pretending to see the potential in these old, dilapidated foreclosed houses. Sometimes I wish I had a normal boyfriend who would take me to look at houses without penis graffiti on the walls.

I think what bothers me the most is that the Boy held my feet to the fire just a few short weeks ago about the future of our relationship. And now he is making decisions as if that conversation never happened.

The Boy is not looking for a house. He is looking for a project. And the house he picked is at least a two or three year project. So, does that mean we would not be living together or having a baby for the next three years? I am pretty sure he has not thought of that at all. Or perhaps he assumes that we will be happy raising our imaginary future baby together in the Mold House.

It's not that I even want any of those things. I was perfectly content with the way things are between us. The Boy is the one who put the future out on the table. And now the future is all I can see.

Unfortunately, I have always had different standards for the man of my future versus the man of my present. There is an ever changing but important list of criteria for the person I would want to spend my life with. By keeping my relationship focused in the present, I avoid having to evaluate the Boy against my future standards. Which is good, because I am not sure he would measure up very well.

I always thought the number one criteria I wanted in a man was intelligence. Being with the Boy, I have learned that it is not actually intelligence I am seeking. It is good judgement. Someone who can quickly assess a situation and make the right decision. And yes, by "right decision" I am referring to a decision that I can agree with.

Maybe the Boy is not the only one whose eyes are wide shut. All this time, I have been looking at our relationship the same way the Boy looks at the Mold House. Trying to convince myself that somehow it will all work out, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary.

After our talk on Saturday, I could tell that the Boy still really wanted to keep the house. That night, I dreamed that I gave the Boy an ultimatum. It was either the Mold House, or me. But I woke up before he had a chance to answer.

I knew I needed a miracle to salvage our relationship and save me from acquiring any number of diseases at the Mold House. And it came today in the most unexpected way. After the home inspection, I convinced the Boy to go back to the Bank and ask for some money off of the house to cover the expenses for the mold remediation. He sent off an e-mail with his request and I was off to Indiana for the week - again.

While I was driving this afternoon, I got a text from the Boy. He said that after reviewing his list of demands, the Asset Manager at the Bank decided to terminate the sale contract for the house. I had to read it twice just to be sure. Immediately, I felt this overwhelming sense of relief. Just when I thought I had run out of options, fate stepped in and gave us a fresh start.

And now the Boy wants to take me house hunting again this weekend. Let's hope we both go in with our eyes wide open.


Anonymous said...

Wow - what a lucky turn of events. It would be nice if these guys had enough "good judgement", as you say, to come up with the solution themselves or with our input. But how often to we have to rely on some other sort of divine intervention ... in this case, the bank had enough sense to see a losing battle even if the Boy didn't. Congratulations to both of you anyway, for avoiding disaster!

Anonymous said...

I am struggling with what lesson I should take from this. Learn to let go of worries on other people's behalf, because you can't control it anyway and things will work out as they are meant to? Or avoid relationships with boys who are too stubborn to take good advice! I guess it depends on your ability to live with the uncertainty while situations play out.

AG said...

I was pretty convinced that I would break up with the Boy if he ended up getting that house. I just couldn't see how I could sit back and watch him throw money into that pit for the next two years. So in this case, I see it as fate stepping in to tell me to give him another chance. Next time he might not be so lucky!