Inasmuch as a routine can be formed when one's life changes alarmingly dramatically on a weekly basis, H1 and I have achieved a nice little one. On Sunday mornings, the paper is left outside our door by a nice person, who we've never met, and will never meet, because he or she has well and truly been and gone by the time we've roused ourselves. H1 picks it up, throws it at me to wake me up, and puts the coffee on to continue the job. Depending on how high a level of consciousness I've attained by the time it's brewed, we either sit in bed with breakfast and the paper, or around the table with breakfast and the paper.
Or rather, I sit around with breakfast and the paper. H1 sits around with his laptop, or, if there is some event of a sporting nature on, even one with only the most tenuous link to sport, the TV going so he can yell at it. Surprisingly, this doesn't worry me. I strongly believe in the power of the written word, and in knowing what is happening in the world around you, but thankfully, H1 doesn't miss out. Luckily for him, I'm kind enough to share my paper, in a vocal manner.
And it is lucky for him, even if he doesn't realise it, or appreciate it as obviously as he could (all those cars do is drive round and round and round again. I'm not interrupting anything important). I know he reads the online edition of the NZ Herald during the week, so catches up on all the important world news - new wars, invasions, natural disasters, etc - and all the important New Zealand news - funny looking sheep*, small house fire that didn't harm anybody**, a suggestion that it may rain in spring***, and so on - so he's always up to date with the big stuff, but without our Sunday discussions (monologues) he would know nothing about what was happening in the pages of the Sunday Styles section, or the Metropolitan section, or the Real Estate section. Also known as The Most Important Section Of Them All.
I love the Real Estate section, with a passion that surprises and shocks me. For a long time, I wasn't interested in real estate at all. In fact, for a long time I was downright terrified of real estate, almost certainly thanks to my over-enthusiastic parents. These parents believed strongly in seeing your own country, which meant my childhood was peppered with regular and frequent holidays, all over New Zealand. Not at all a bad way to grow up. Rather idyllic, in fact. What was less idyllic was their equally frequent proclamations that they would love to live in such a 'relaxing, charming little place', no matter where we happened to be, generally closely followed by sustained amounts of time peering into the windows of real estate agents and exclaiming how much they could get for their Auckland dollar in this 'vibrant community'. My brothers and I would stare bleakly out at the landscape of whichever main street we happened to be on, marvelling at how quickly a great holiday destination could become this godforsaken hellhole, and throwing whiny, Auckland-centric comments at the traitors. Either the comments worked, or the second the holiday was over my parents realised that giving up their jobs and living off the land probably wouldn't be all it was cracked up to be, because they never did drag us off and subject us to the wilds of small town living. But they did foster in me a general avoidance of real estate, which lasted for the first 25 years of my life.
Suddenly, however, I can't get enough of it. Genes will out. I study the Real Estate section of the New York Times as if I'm going to be tested on it, amazing over not only the Upper East Side townhouses and West Village penthouses and Connecticut mansions one could buy (certain ones. Not this one) but also over the small-yet-adorable, affordable, in need of some loving places. Places one could buy. Including this one. Not that I would. I either don't understand how property taxes work, or they're outrageous, but when you would end up paying half what we pay in rent just on taxes, I don't see the point in owning. I just like knowing that we could.
I'm not sure why. And I'm definitely not sure why it's only happening now. Maybe it's just that the idea of owning a place in the USA still holds a certain glamour for me, being associated in my mind with Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club and all the other bits of wholesome America that I longed to experience in my youth, as it is. Perhaps it's my New Zealand identity coming to the fore. It's a nation of homeowners, where renting comes a distant, crummy, didn't-even-try second. Or possibly it's all because of my parents, and their obsession with looking at houses, no matter how impracticable and implausible the reality of purchasing said house may be.
Not that it matters, because there are no plans in my short-to-medium-term future to buy a place, certainly not in New York, home to the most ridiculous and punitive barriers to owning I've ever encountered. I'm fortunate that currently, it's quite enough just to talk to H1 about what houses we could own, which houses we couldn't own, and exactly how the taxes may work. Good fortune that he shares.
*It's been a while, but this was once an actual story
**Again, actual story, that actually appeared in the paper
***Another actual story. New Zealand is a great place