This Old House -- Or Maybe That One

I don’t watch HGTV. Ever. I wouldn’t know behind which brother I should throw my support -- Team Drew or Team Jonathan? I don’t know a flip from a flop. I have been to Waco, Texas, twice in the past year, but it didn’t cross my mind to visit the silos at Magnolia Market or even once do a double take in hopes of a Chip or Joanna sighting.

But for the moment, I have become a house hunter.

In January, the non-profit where I have worked for the last 5 years as a community coordinator began discussing its future. Connecting Caring Communities wants to develop a plan for going forward in bigger and better ways. One of the biggest outcomes of that discussion has been the decision to consolidate our work. This means that all four community coordinators will work in the College Heights neighborhood to multiply our efforts and hopefully increase the positive, measurable outcomes there. This also means that my family and I will move to College Heights as soon as possible. And so we began house hunting.

As we began looking, only three or four houses were on the market within the boundaries our organization had established for the neighborhood. None of those houses was quite right – too big, too small, too far from the center of the neighborhood, a potential money pit. It was discouraging.

And then the perfect house became available – just the right size, not a bad price, great curb appeal, and no need for any of the HGTV team to come blustering in and fix it up. To our dismay, though, our perfect house sold within four hours after listing. A waiting list of sorts began to form with the Realtor, just in case the deal went bad. After a bit of sulking, we realized this was good news: People are interested in moving into our neighborhood … at least into the perfect house.

Then we realized that maybe the perfect houses are not quite right for us.

The hunt has continued, and we have stumbled upon another possibility. It is an old house, built in the late 1920s, and stepping inside is stepping back in time, though not the nearly 100 years since it was built. Paneling – some with engraved figures and scenes -- covers most of the walls, orange and gold carpet now blankets the hardwood floors, and the built-in telephone stand, complete with a drawer for the phone book, is nestled in the kitchen corner, unaware of its obsolescence. There is not a level surface in the house. Time and harsh West Texas droughts and maybe even a termite or two have whittled away at the foundation and the exterior wood in places.

But it is solidly built. The ceilings are high. The old glass doors that lead from the living room into the dining room are beautiful. It isn’t a big house, but it could be opened up with just enough room for friends and neighbors to stand around in the kitchen, or sit around the fireplace or come together around the dining room table.

I am grateful for experience that has trained my eyes to find the hidden beauty in imperfect, older houses -- even without HGTV. To look past floors that slope, woodwork that is worn and walls that are no longer square.

I am even more grateful for experience that allows me to see the people around me in the same light.