In pursuit of a balanced life

A guy once told me that he doesn’t think that single women who buy a condo or a house are interested in getting married and he tries to avoid them.

I realize that he said this before interest rates fell so low, but it’s a comment that stuck with me, although I never agreed with the assessment.

Should a single woman continue to throw money away on rent, waiting for a prince in shining armor to come whisk her away into a big castle?

I don’t think so.

I recently moved into my new place and although it’s a huge commitment, it doesn’t affect my attitude about marriage. In fact, I still wish I had someone to take out the trash and rake the leaves in the backyard. Just kidding. Sort of.

I also recently became a single mom – by adopting two puppies.

So within a couple of weeks I went from being basically a responsibility-free renter to a homeowner with two little furry dependents. Whew, I don’t think I quite know what I’m getting myself into. Or so I’ve been told.

I haven’t actually brought the puppies home yet – I’ve only bought a big bag of puppy food, snacks, bowls and Bitter Apple, so it’s been easy so far. I figure I can train myself as I train the puppies – in this house, we don’t leave our shoes on the floor; if we do, there’s a danger they will be chewed.

I know these changes will transform my life dramatically and although I had always thought of buying a house and training puppies as something you do after marriage, how long are you supposed to wait? Are you supposed to put your life on hold until you meet the right person?

When I was researching online for this article, trying to get some statistics on single women becoming homeowners, I came across a Web site called “Leather Spinsters on the Web: An E-zine for the Happily Unmarried Woman.”

I did find the statistic I was looking for: According to a 2000 article, statistics show 57 percent of single women now own their own homes.

But wait – what is this Web site?

On the site, a leather spinster is defined as (1) a happily unmarried straight or asexual woman and (2) a happily single woman who is not gay.

Whoa.

Maybe this is the attitude the guy meant when he talked about women who buy their own houses. But that’s not me at all! I don’t consider myself one of the people who must be dating somebody to be happy, going from relationship to relationship because I can’t bear not to be in one. But I wouldn’t say I’m “happily unmarried.”

Can you be “happily single” while at the same time be “unhappily unmarried?”

I think so.

Like with most everything else, moderation is a good thing. On the one hand, you need to still be open to meeting someone (JDate, singles events, giving up an evening to go on one more blind date) but it doesn’t mean that the pursuit of finding a partner should be the entire pursuit of your life.

This article first appeared in the June 13, 2003 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.

Realty reality can be disheartening

Maturity can’t be measured by age, but it may be determined by which sections of the newspaper you read.

Every morning before heading out to high school, I would read Dear Abby, the comics and my horoscope with breakfast.

In college, it was the lifestyle section and a quick skim of the front page.

Two years ago – when the Diamondbacks were in the World Series – I even grabbed the Sports pages first, although they now always remain untouched.

But lately something’s changed. I recently found myself unfolding the House & Home section. I even read a story on mortgage insurance – with interest – and the HOA column.

When I first realized what I was doing, I was somewhat taken aback. I’d always been a renter and real estate was a foreign language. But now I’m in the process of buying my first house and I’m slowly beginning to understand the language of escrow and equity, although I’m far from fluent.

A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to down payments, titles, home inspections and other real-estate-type talk. Topics that I could have cared less about a few months ago. But there we were, sounding like we were in a scene from the TV show “Thirtysomething.” Oh wait, I am 30-something. How’d that happen?

But it’s even gotten weirder in other ways. I was watching a movie the other night and during an action-packed shootout underway in a woman’s home, I was distracted by the shades of paint throughout the house. I liked the yellow kitchen, not sure about the coral living room.

I guess it makes sense that you’re more observant about things that are directly relevant to your life. It’s like all of a sudden noticing how many red trucks there are driving around the streets of Phoenix – after ending a relationship with someone who drives a red truck.

On the first day of my search for a new home, I found a condo I really liked. I made an offer that week, received a counteroffer, and then the contract was signed. I thought it was mine.

But, when it got to the appraisal stage, there was a problem and the place was no longer an option. I was crushed – it seemed so promising and I had already entertained decorating ideas and pictured a little dog running around its rooms.

Imagine what the world would be like if dating was as regulated as the real estate industry.

First there’s the listings – with Internet dating and classified ads, that already exists. You scan through the listings and decide which location, age and special features you prefer.

Once you find someone you’re interested in, you set up a date, using a certified dating agent. This agent accompanies you on the first visit, and will later offer his or her educated impressions and advice.

If both parties are happy with the first meeting and wish to continue the process, they must sign a contract confirming their intentions.

Next is the appraisal. A professional appraiser looks into the value of both parties, evaluating such elements as financial worth, health, employment backgrounds and what kind of “upkeep” has been done, such as education or therapy.

The inspection follows – handled by family and friends who make their observances, conduct interviews and then sign a form describing their impressions.

If both parties are satisfied with the appraisal and the inspection, they may begin dating. However, only after signing a contract which lists which compromises will be made, how long they want the dating period to last before a mandatory engagement, how long the engagement should last, and what conditions will automatically terminate the agreement.

Sadly, this analogy can easily get out of hand. Already, when interest rates are low, people often start searching for something – or someone – new. However, with network TV shows like “Married by America” – where viewers choose a contestant’s spouse – maybe people would go for it. (Although people probably wouldn’t agree to live in whatever house America chose for them.)

All I know is, next time I find a place I really like, I’ll wait to choose shades of paint until the final papers are signed.
Public Service Announcement: JDaters visiting Phoenix for multiple JDates in the same weekend are advised to be upfront about it, as Phoenix is a small community and all your dates will probably know each other anyway.

This article first appeared in the March 14, 2003 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.