A rollicking journey through the wild world of real estate, Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House is the story of "a very imperfect life lived among very imperfect houses" and one woman's obsession with the search for four walls (along with, preferably, a roof not in need of replacing) to call home.
In the six houses and many states where Meghan Daum spent her suburban childhood, for the Daum family, "if there was anything that came close to a regular weekend activity it was attending open houses."
So it was no surprise that Meghan spent her college career measuring time not by her grades or semesters but by the flights of stairs (12 in all) she dragged her futon up and down as she moved among the dorms and apartments of Vassar College. Post-graduation life in New York City found her haunted by "hidden room" dreams, and fantasies of impossibly inexpensive houses in the middle of Central Park.
Two moves later, she was in Lincoln, Nebraska - house heaven: "From my New York perspective, the real estate in Lincoln was so affordable it almost seemed free." But after the purchases of not one but two farmhouses there fell through, and a relationship fizzled, Meghan packed up her 85-pound sheepdog, Rex, threw her (tasteful) 20th-century antiques in storage, and headed for Los Angeles, where she blazed through a series of astoundingly inappropriate sublets - and dates that were doomed from the start: "At 33 years old, the appearance of my house had officially become more important than my own appearance. After decades of worrying about my hair and my thighs, my main concern now was whether a picture was crooked on the wall."
Hungry for something that would root her to the earth, tired of "playing president of [her] own personal domestic academy of desire", she embarked at last on the ultimate real-estate adventure: buying a house of her own, on her own. It was 2004, and all too easy to get caught up in the headiness of crowded open houses and "creative" mortgages, bidding wars, and investment properties. Meghan - like the nearly six million Americans riding a wave of perhaps irrational lust who purchased real estate that year - found herself depleting most of her savings to buy a 900-square-foot bungalow with an uninsurable garage that "bore a close resemblance to the ruins of Pompeii" and plumbing that "dated back to the Coolidge administration."
From the unexpected joy of finding original 1928 porcelain tiles intact under the bathroom floor linoleum to a frenzied cabinet renovation in anticipation of a gentleman caller; from a desperate attempt to find (and turn off) the water main to the struggles of fitting a new love into a house built for one, Meghan Daum has given us, with delicious wit and a keen eye for the absurd, a pitch-perfect, irresistible story of her lifelong game of house.
"Daum's treading in the wake of the burst housing bubble is sweet and timely." (Publishers Weekly)
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