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Musical Houses, and Why I Hate This Game Worse Than Spanx

Have you ever been in a bar, or in a hotel lounge or perhaps even in church, and the live music that had been playing in the background the whole time (but that you had never noticed until this very moment) all of a sudden hit a wrong note? Or changed keys abruptly? Or stopped altogether? It’s jarring to be standing there, holding your rum-and-diet-coke (maybe not at church unless you’re Presbyterian) and have this happen to you, especially if you are mid-sentence and trying to sound intelligent— trying to sound like you belong in a place that has live music and cocktails. There’s nothing quite so relieving as when your ears adjust to the new musical key or when you hear the corrected note instead of the half step above it. Our ears seek relief even before we realize how much we were depending on the music to soothe us in the first place. 

As you have probably guessed, I am setting up a big giant allegory of some kind with all of this cocktail-and-musical-theory talk. Prepare not to be disappointed:

The process of buying and selling houses is a lot like music that ends abruptly, hits a wrong note or changes keys. Just when you feel comfortable with how the whole thing is shaking out, something happens and everything is suddenly on its ear and you have to recalibrate.

Now, you’ll remember, I’m pregnant. And we preggos don’t take lightly to not knowing where we shall fashion our nests. So on Friday when Gordon came home and delivered the news, “we lost the house,” I felt personally insulted as if by everyone I have ever known and burst into tears like a two-year-old, stomping my swollen feet and asking Gordon “if we and our two children under three years old will be living under 1-35 when we are discharged from Harris Methodist?”

(Insert abrupt dissonant musical chord here!)

For months, our dream house had been sitting there like a vulnerable little puppy, ready to be scooped up by loving owners. The price was unbeatable, the condition immaculate. I knew we needed to move fast. But the sale of our house took longer than expected, and by the time we were able to put down an offer, two other buyers were right there with us. We lost the bidding war on Friday.

Then, we found House #2 on Saturday. Smaller, cute, definitely livable but not the dream. We put down an offer. They accepted. Things were shaking out. I even bought “Small Spaces” magazine to try to determine how best to live in House #2.

Then the news came today: the contract on House #1 fell through and WOULD WE STILL LIKE TO HAVE IT?

(Insert abrupt dissonant musical chord again!)

It’s more expensive. It’s more house. But we could stay there. Forever. I try not to use obnoxious phrases like “this particular house speaks to my soul” and so forth; or, “I know this is THE ONE” or “I CAN FEEL IT IN MY EVER-EXPANDING GUT” because at the end of the day, it’s just another temporal commodity.

Or is it? Isn’t a house more than just a new pair of open-toed espadrilles?

A huge investment, yes, but don’t tell me we aren’t spiritually, emotionally and psychologically affected by the spaces in which we live and move. I think people who live on the aisle of Capri in Italy live well into their nineties because of the vast clean views of the Mediterranean and the white stucco homes that dot the steep cliffs—surroundings that truly must “speak to their souls” or at least keep their blood pressure down. Well, that and all the salmon and lemons they eat. So I ask, Shouldn’t the intangibles like intuition and butterflies in the gut be considered legitimate ways to go about making the decision of where to live — where to raise children and deal with tragedy and host Superbowl parties?

On the other hand, why should I be “destined” to live in a particular house when so many people would love just to have a home at all?

And, my question in this particular situation is: why the abrupt, jarring, back-and-forthness of everything?


So I hesitate to let my ears adjust to this new key because experience tells me it will change again. I’m sailing along the razor-thin horizon, waiting at any moment to fall off the edge of the earth. Luckily I know Someone is there who will catch us.