Thursday, February 16, 2012

the one that got away

So not that I think anyone noticed/cared, but I'm a good two or three weeks behind on the whole nostalgia Wednesday thing. I know, I'm a total slacker when it comes to my self-instituted routines. I could belatedly tell you about the long weekend I spent on the Canary Islands nearly five (five?!) years ago to the day, because it was awfully beautiful...

But instead, my mind is much closer to home these past few days. "Home" has been a bit of a moving target since I started living in this area. I've been here for over two years now, and buying a place has been on my mind since last summer. I even found an apartment that I loved, in an area that I liked, for a price I could stomach. Because I was still a contractor at the time, I wasn't comfortable taking on a mortgage with my somewhat up-in-the-air job status. In June I got my slightly more stable current job, but I was a few weeks too late. The apartment had sold. It has haunted me ever since, with its insanely low price (it was a short sale) and relatively manageable coop fee and lax bylaws. 

When I found out right before my road trip that I was basically being evicted from my old apartment so they could renovate it and charge much higher rent, I re-initiated my real estate search in a more formal (i.e. realtor-supported) fashion. I found a great agent who at least pretended not to be put off by my beer budget/champagne taste dichotomy, and who happily traipsed all over town to help me find "the one." 

We saw some tee tiny places. We saw some places that straight up lied about being one bedrooms. We saw some places with original 1960s kitchens. I tred on more parquet floors in the span of a few weeks than I have in my young life. And even though I was convinced I'd never find a single thing I liked, my agent kept saying "we can do better for you," with enthusiasm that I struggled to match, but appreciated nonetheless. 

And then we did do better. In short order, we figured out my "type." I'm wholeheartedly a pre-war girl. Yes, pre-WWII.  The units tend to be bigger and have higher ceilings. The hallways are wide and full of light. Everything is just so much more charming than in the rash of buildings that popped up in the 60s, and I'm a sucker for the little details. 

A month ago, we saw a unit that had just come on the market (in the building above). Even though another couple was viewing it at the time, I apparently sent them enough "stay away, this one's mine" vibes for it to stay on the market for a solid 30 days. And then on Monday of this week, the seller dropped the price. Panicked emails to my agent ensued, and he advised that I make an offer, and quickly. Even more panicked emails to my mortgage broker followed. I politely but forcefully extracted a prequalification letter from the bank, and the agent and I submitted our offer. 

Yesterday, in fact, was full of frantic phone calls, insane volumes of paperwork, and general chest-constricting anxiety about the biggest check I've written in my young life. There was some back and forth, a last minute escalation clause, and finally, the surprisingly crushing disappointment of learning that some joker outbid me with his ALL CASH OFFER. 

The bottom line is, I lost the apartment. The guy who outbid me overpaid, a fact that both my realtor and I are well aware of, but it's still a complete downer. The apartment, and perhaps more importantly, the location were perfect for me. The neighborhood was the most "me" area in DC, and I would have moved there happily and without hesitation.

The speed with which this disappointment made my little shoulders sag is a cruel reminder of just how dangerous my imagination is. I had already envisioned my furniture spread across the beautiful wood floors of the apartment. I picked out paint colors, light fixtures, and my new route to work. I saw my friends gathered around my table in my new dining room. I googled "how to make your own built in bookshelves" with a specific wall of the living room in mind. 

Because of my active imagination and propensity for nostalgia, I have so many "ones that got away." Job opportunities passed up, apartments lost, relationships ended, trips not taken, one liners thought of a moment too late, killer shoes not purchased. You name it, I can romanticize it.

But as with some of the other moments that have brought swift but decisive disappointment in to my life lately, I actively try to remind myself of the line "whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should," from the poem "Desiderata."

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