I finally made a decision. In fact, I made a whole bunch of them.
I decided over and over again, and I kept second-guessing myself. So I decided the other way, and that decision has stuck. In fact, I haven't changed my mind since Wednesday, a sure sign that this is the right choice for me.
My best friend from law school wrote me an e-mail that reminded me how smart I was to sit next to her for 4 years. Among other things, she said, "If you know that your plans are financially responsible who cares if it is a 'good idea' from an investment perspective? This is not an investment for you; you are not planning on buying this house and selling it. You want to love it and live in it. Having something that makes you happy cannot be measured with money, right? If you want that house, and I think you do, start negotiating."
Her e-mail arrived at the very same time my financial guru was on the phone with me, saying loudly and sternly, "Walk away, walk away, walk away." (She's also a friend, and I welcome her voice of reason, even when I don't listen.)
I chatted up the owner of the house next door, which will be for sale soon. I peered in the windows of another vacant house in the neighborhood (wood floors, fireplace, gracious proportions). I looked at the real estate websites to see what else had come on the market since I stopped looking.
I also tried hard to imagine myself in another house, with another yard. I practiced saying things like, "Well, it just didn't work out." I changed my photo album's title from "House 'Before'" to "The One That Got Away." I discovered I couldn't bear to look at the paint chips of the colors I'd picked out. I got all teary telling myself that the house was going to have to get its TLC from someone else.
In other words, I used break-up methology to test my feelings, by saying and behaving like I was moving on. But it didn't work.
I have decided to pursue this house.
I love it. I love its quirkiness, its scruffy charm, its tarnished history. I love its struggling dignity. I love the vision of what it could be, with time and attention. Smitten, attached, invested: I am all those things.
Now for more conversations with the bank, my contractor, my realtor, the seller's agent, and a new lender. Life will be complicated for a while longer.
So what? I think it's worth it.