Friday, May 25, 2007

Home Owner


Oh, my gosh. I bought a house yesterday. Well, I've started the process. Earnest money is down, offer to purchase is signed, now I await home inspections. So, like a woman who's just found out she's pregnant, I don't want to shout from the rooftops just yet, because it's not a 100% victory, but the ball is rolling.
I changed my mind on a townhome/condo, and decided that I can live with having a lawn to mow and flowers to tend to. I realized that re-sell and overall value is much better with a house, and the added bonus is that I won't have shared walls with neighbors.
Here's the best part (I almost hesitate to get too excited, in case the house falls through, but I'll say it anyway), I LOVE the house. I love the neighborhood, the location, and the fact that I have a little front porch. The house is old, built in 1947, which adds to its charm. Instead of a plastic-y interior, I have curved archways, a coal-burning fireplace, and a cozy attic that has been converted to a bedroom. I will adorn the porch with red and yellow Adirondack chairs, and my front windows will have flower boxes bearing geraniums.
There are so many things that I'm excited about that I've forfeited sleep this past week. Instead, I lay in bed thinking about decorating and painting and hosting dinner parties. I never thought I'd be so domestic. But, I guess when it's yours, really yours, the perspective changes.
I'm planning on getting a roommate, in the form of a dog. I've wanted a dog for so long, but because I've been renting and moving so frequently since, well, college, I haven't been able to have one. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I've picked out potential boy and girl dog names. That's how excited I am.
I'll post more pictures as the process unfolds.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Trails

Since moving to NC I have fallen in love with trail running. Cullen’s house backs up to about 30 miles of fantastic singletrack, nonpareil, that follows the lakes. The trails are a perfect mix of hills and roots to be challenging, but on those runs where I want to just cruise, I can take less taxing routes. We spent the winter running through the muted landscape, but now that spring has fully come, the trails are a new experience. Barren trees have been replaced by bursting foliage and a rich, palatial canopy. What, during the winter, was a place of sleeping branches and dormant grasses, now feels like a rainforest. Running through the zigzagging trails, you can almost feel the explosion of growth as the new tendrils fight for sunlight.
Last night, I headed to the trails straight from work. It was warm—in the 80s, but we were having one of those fantastic drizzles that precedes a thunderstorm. My day had been stressful—actually, it’s been a stressful few weeks, and I’ve found that being on the trails is the best way to shut off the incessant thread of worries. Getting out there, pounding up the hills, breathing in the rich wet air, is pure release.
I usually listen to music when running. I like that it distracts me from thinking too much. But with trail running, I don’t go out of my mind with boredom if it is silent. Last night, sans music, I shut off my brain as I concentrated on foot placement and avoiding large roots and low branches. Trail running is similar to mt. biking in that regard: you almost get into this zen state of mind as you concentrate on where you’re going and what’s around you instead of what’s pestering you from the outside world. I find that road biking and running, unless I’m with someone and chatting, are a conduit for mulling over things—which has a time and place, certainly, but it is very refreshing to leave everything behind and in the trees.

Monday, May 14, 2007

House Hunting

I have begun the process. Honestly, I never thought that I would be doing this solita—I guess I had bought into the girl fantasy of home shopping with the betrothed. And, being raised in California, I had assumed that home ownership was the elusive dream—reserved for the rich; certainly not for those in the editing/writing profession. But, that is yet another beauty about living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: I, a 26-year-old, by- no-means- rich, single female, can afford a home.
When I first visited NC last spring, Kara and I stayed with quite a few of her friends as we did our whirlwind state tour. Her friends, all our age, owned their own homes. I was astounded. Rightly so, considering West Coast mentality and specifically, central coast California mentality, where the average home costs 500,000—and that buys you a pile of s*&#. So to come to NC, and see 25 year olds in their own homes, absolutely astounded me. I became even more determined to move here.
And here I am, searching for my own place, exactly a year later. It’s a cool world when your plans actually work out.
Right now I am looking primarily at townhomes/condos. For one, I am a minimalist, and I don’t particularly want yard maintenance or overall house concerns, such as roof/paint type things. I’ll let my HOA fees take care of that. Also, for my price range, I can buy a much nicer condo or townhome than a house, and in a better area. So I’m starting small.
I had no idea how cool the actual process would be. I had never given much thought to the mortgage process, negotiating prices, and weighing whether the property will be a good re-sell/rental. I am now fully immersed in educating myself on the ins and outs: earnest money, home inspections, PMI, and balancing listening to the realtor and using my own judgment. I feel, well, rather grown-up.
My favorite part is figuring out how I am going to decorate and paint the place. I have lived on my own, but I’ve always been a renter, so decorations weren’t so high on my priority list. In college, decorating consisted of scoring the best used couch from family members. Moving across the country meant that I have had to start clean: furniture didn’t fit in my car, therefore, only my clothes and some kitchen goods made the trek. I am beginning from scratch.
Thank God for Craigslist. I love bargain hunting, and Craigslist is a 24/7 yardsale. I’ve already purchased a full bedroom set, but I am waiting until I actually get the digs to finish furniture acquiring. Whenever I look at a place I like, I visualize how I would paint the walls and weigh whether I can picture decorating that space to my specifications. I’ve been gathering home decorating catalogs, Pottery Barn, Southern Living—whatever I can glean ideas from. I love it, and I find that often I have a hard time falling asleep because I am imagining how this is all going to come together. (God willing). I’ll keep posting about this topic, especially as I start to narrow down “the one.”