(This is an excerpt from my novel One Hundred Open Houses. You can buy it on Amazon as a kindle book by clicking on the title to the right of this blog.)
You were going along thinking everything was okay. You weren’t noticeably dying or anything and even though your hair was thinning, suddenly for no reason, it stabilized – even began to get thicker – and you thought, huh, some new kind of ‘fresh hell’ hormones must be kicking in but I’ll take it. Still every morning, in the quiet few minutes when you swung your legs out of bed and decided to get up, this voice whispered from the old brain hole or maybe it was the soul hole and it said: “Wait! If you were in an Ingmar Bergman movie and Death came and played chess with you, Death would win because you are not really living the best life you can.”
All through last fall and early winter I had that thought in my pocket. Maybe it accounted for a new addiction to read real estate news. Maybe I thought a change of residence would do the trick Real estate was the new drug and it was better than crack because it only cost the price of the Sunday paper and not even that if you read it on line. But also, you could go into any Open House and see apartments and houses where you would never be invited. You could look in the medicine cabinet and in the closets and pretty much look at any damn thing you wanted. Then, you could say, “No thanks.”
The New York Times had put out an entire magazine devoted to real estate. It was called Key and on the cover was a stylized picture of a key with red lines radiating from it that looked like the vein and capillary system inside the body. Maybe that was the subliminal message they were trying to send: that real estate was the substance of life.
When I read Key magazine, I felt as if all the information had segregated me and shut me out. One of the articles told you how much house one and a half million dollars could buy today. If you wanted to move to Szigetkoz, Hungary (no, I didn’t misspell it) you got a 30-acre, ten-bedroom castle. In New York City, you got a one-bedroom apartment with lava-stone kitchen countertops and the noise of the West Side Highway at your doorstep.
That’s what I was going to have to do to save my life – move from my comfortable idyllic village and find myself some real estate in New York City. I didn’t have a million dollars. I was going to have to really hunt for a match like the innocent people in the New York Times they profiled in The Hunt.
Once I was at an open house in the Flatiron district. It was a one bedroom overlooking the big clock at Met Life. The apartment had a mirror tile wall and swooping metallic lamps and glass tables and really no place you could sit and not be gouged by the unyielding materials. It was brittle in the way Bette Davis could be brittle. This man looked around and said, “If this apartment were a relationship, my verdict is, okay to date but would never marry.”
Home should be where the heart is. And where you can imagine your future.