I’ve had this draft of a post brewing for well over a month. It all started with a casual tweet about how I could drive around all day looking at houses. Then I was overwhelmed with responses.
Sometimes I tweet about a photo or something funny and nothing. And then sometimes the most random tweet spurs a discussion that makes me think I might be onto something.
Women like to look at houses. At first, I thought it was some strange phenomenon that I shared with my mother. As it turns out, there is a whole society of women just like me. So I got to thinking, what’s it all about? Why do we do it? And I came up with some theories.
- We’re just plain old curious. We like to see what different houses look like in different neighborhoods. We like to see what houses are selling for. And nighttime looking? Oh yes, we can see right in the windows.
- We want ideas. My best decorating ideas came from walking through about 800 different model homes. Sometimes it was to actually look at the house. Sometimes it was just because I was curious (see number 1). And landscaping ideas? I get those too. And then give them to my husband.
- We need to feel better about our own houses. Not every woman gets a chance to live in her dream house. Or even if she does, the dream probably changes over time. Sometimes, we can go out and see that for what we paid for our house, we would get a whole lot less nowadays.
- We need to dream. Maybe you aren’t a homeowner. Or maybe you aren’t living where you thought you would or where you want to. We can dream about the house we might one day have.
It’s that last one that stays with me. The dreaming part. For me, it’s not just looking at the pretty houses. It’s imagining myself living there. What would life be like if…
And it’s not necessarily a matter of money. And it’s not necessarily about life being better or easier. It’s about it being different.
As I was walking through NYC last week, I took pictures of townhouses, or row houses, or mansions. I’m not really sure what they’re called in New York. I imagined what the old woodworking inside must look like. I imagined where you have to so to see a patch of grass. I imagine having a dog and figuring out how to take them for a walk and clean up after them.
Then, as I’m driving through New Jersey, I see smaller older homes. These are the homes some of my friends grew up in. They have one bathroom. They have small bedrooms. And you can look out the side of the house and see more than you care to of your next door neighbor.
Back home in North Carolina, we have mansions by comparison. Million dollar homes on the golf course are commonplace. Where do these people work? Can they even afford their house? Are they living paycheck to paycheck? Is it a charmed life behind those carved wood doors?
I unintentionally put a lot of thought into my house browsing. In fact, I would even say it has saved my life.
A few years ago, I suffered a bad bout of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Thank God for my mom who dropped everything to come and stay with me for a month until I was on the road to recovery. If you’ve ever gone through a similar situation, you know that your mind is your own worst enemy and it’s very hard to take a break from it.
So almost every day, we would drive around looking at houses. Just looking. We would take random roads or check out new communities. For me, the bigger the house, the better. I think it provided just enough distraction from my own head and my own life.
Eventually, my life settled back into the world of sanity. I still look at houses. I still dream. But the dreams are much happier now.