As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided that (dictionary be damned) perfectionism isn’t really based on the assumption that things are ever going to be exactly perfect; it’s more a pursuit than a quest with an end. Most of us are willing to acknowledge that perfection is mythical and unattainable.
So what exactly is this pursuit of the perfect all about? I think it’s more like a complicated form of rationalizing. We don’t necessarily have to believe that things will ever be truly perfect to remain firmly devoted to the belief that if we can just get a liiiiitttttle bit closer to our ultimate vision, well, then we can at least live with that. We can be more content, we can be happier, even if we can’t reach the zenith. And let’s face it: the pursuit is the real thrill, a thrill that can’t possibly be matched by its outcome. Because within the pursuit lies the potential. Reality often involves some level of disappointment.
Which leads us to the topic of real estate. It’s been an interesting ride for my peers and I, coming-of-adulthood during the recent booms and busts of the housing market. We had all kinds of weird ideas about how and why one should possess their own little corner of the planet. For a certain demographic to which I belong, there was a time when one could have easily mistaken our real life financial transactions for a game of Monopoly. I can remember an actual conversation in which someone declared that by purchasing my condo in 2002, I “had won.” I’ve been all over the game board since then.
For some, housing–whether rented, owned, borrowed or bartered–is a simple matter of economics: a straightforward business transaction and nothing more. My housing has always been more emotionally significant than that. I can probably trace this back to approximately the seventh grade, when I took up residency in my parents’ attic guestroom a la Greg Brady. I could go on at some length about how and why that little garret still ranks as one of my all-time favorite dwellings. I could probably write an entire memoir about the housing in my life and it would come down to the same basic premise that is at the heart of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House: housing equals identity.
I’m so glad, though, that Meghan Daum saved me the trouble and wrote her housing memoir instead. In fact, it was one of those books that I related to so strongly, I’d almost hesitate to recommend it to anyone else for fear they might not relate and my true insanity will be revealed for once and for all. I’m pretty sure that only a fellow OCDer could truly appreciate the painfully detailed cataloging Daum undertakes over virtually every one of her 18 (yep, I said 18) moves without becoming annoyed. But within the craziness lies a hysterically funny and sharply insightful narrator who isn’t afraid to let us all know how nuts she really is.
Okay, you’ve read the disclosures. Here are the keys. The rest is up to you.