This I Believe

Heather - Waupaca, Wisconsin
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, gratitude
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I believe that no time is ever wasted.

Like many others, I first considered buying a house when interest rates dropped. My boyfriend Randy and I began looking. My father, who is retired from the building trade, was supportive, but skeptical.

“You have to ask yourself, Heather, is this really where you want to make your home? Will you still be happy here in five years?”

I thought I would. I liked the city. It was my boyfriend’s hometown, and we had a good groove going. We had lived here for five years already, so it wasn’t a lark. Randy had relatives in town; we both had good jobs. We had our friends, we had our favorite hangouts, we had our cat.

But we didn’t have our house.

So I threw myself into looking for our house. I interviewed everyone I knew at work, everyone I trusted in my family, everyone who would listen. I became obsessed. I’d scan the Multiple Listing Service websites on my lunch hour. I’d stake out homes at different parts of the day, just to see what the neighborhood was like. Was traffic unbearably heavy at rush hour? Was it safe? How much were the taxes? I needed to know everything.

All in all, we toured at least fifty homes in the city and suburbs. The listings I reviewed, the pages I printed out, the city clerks, attorneys and mortgage lenders I talked to… those notes probably total a thousand pages. My father logged at least a thousand miles in his van, driving spiritedly on short notice to the hot property on which we were begging for his blessing so we could make our offer.

After three years of rejection and heartbreak, it became too much for Randy and me. We cried when our dream home was snatched up by a woman with iffy financing in its first hour on the market. We were unable to be happy for friends who were buying their first homes. We even discussed breaking up. In a moment of utter bleakness, Randy suggested a crazy plan: if we split, he said, that meant I could be free to hook up with a contractor who could then build me the home I deserved. “You can just see me on the side,” he said. “I’ll keep the apartment.”

That’s when I knew we weren’t going to find our home where we were looking.

When I told my father, and asked for his forgiveness for years of wasted trips, he said, “Honey, no time is ever wasted.”

Today, Randy and I are still together. We got rid of the apartment, left the city, and re-prioritized. We found our home, too. It’s a little fixer-upper in a small town. We bought it a year ago. It’s idyllic, it’s strange, it’s not at all what I imagined for myself — but I’d never had gotten here if I hadn’t tried to make it work there. My father was right. No time is ever wasted.