The Home Stalking Network

Stalking. It was roughly seven years ago to this day that I was well into a brand new hobby-- stalking what was my soon-to-be-new house.

About once a week, I would drive out of my way to cruise by it.... slow down... and goggle.

I would take in its gigantic spindled porch.... its cheerful bay window... its happy porch swing... its gently sloping yard. (The yard was "gently sloping" then. Ah, silly ignorant me-- unaware of how many times I, Future Jenn, would tumble down that "gentle slope" with flailing limbs and half-pulled weeds in my fists.)

I found myself daydreaming about the house in quiet times during the day. I'd wonder how it was... whether the current owners were treating it kindly. I'd wonder what it looked like with the fall daylight spilling across its roof. I'd ponder the glow of its stained glass window. I'd diagram its rooms and position my stuff there. I'd write its address in the margins of my notebook with hearts and flowers doodled around it.

Obsession. There was simply no other word for it. If my house had been a person, charges would have been filed.

Worse, I had the urge to buy it presents. Little tokens of affection like this great area rug I'd found on the Internet. One day, I recall, had been all about carpeting. Where could I get this carpet? How much was it here or there? Was it the right shade of red? How soon could I get it? And what size would look best in the living room that was not yet mine?

I knew I needed an intervention, but I was too deeply sick to care.

Coworkers would ask me about the house and I'd be unable hold back the goofy smile. I spoke of the place lovingly, and too often. I recall wishing I had a boyfriend I cared about as much as that darling domicile. But figured the boyfriend would probably want to live inside the house. And I doubted he could love it as much as I did. There’d be a conflict, and then one of them would have to go.

I figured I could convert his closet into some bookshelves.

And then my flatmate’s family came to town, and I even ended up taking them to stalk my new house. But with the current homeowner’s car sitting sentinel in the driveway, it became clear that my acute fear of public humiliation was still somehow stronger than my house lust.

Ah, in two cars we pulled up outside my object of obsession. And thinking back, we probably looked a lot like a targeted, ungraceful bank heist.

"Okay, you can step out of your car," I instructed my friend's family in low tones, "but keep the engine running!"

"Oh, but we want a picture of you in front of the house," said my friend's mom, wide-eyed.

"No time, no time! They're home, someone will see!"

"Pleeeease...?" She looked so excited and sweet there in her plastic rainbonnet, what could I do? Mom-type-people have a way of manipulating the improperly armed.

So "click, click, click" went the camera. And thus went two blurry photos of the house, and one with me pausing hesitantly in front of the "Sold" sign.

"Wooow," cooed my friend’s mom, pointing and starting to go up the front steps, "is that a porch swing?"

I saw a flicker in the window. Was that a curtain moving?

Abort, abort, abort!! Whoop, whoop, whoop, dive, dive!

"No time for that," I said quickly, shepherding her in a fleet-footed U-turn back to the vehicle. "I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions on the way to the apartment. Everyone, back in the cars," and vrrroom!

Of course, I was sure the owners saw me. Saw me for the umpteenth time since I found the place.

"Hey-- that red-haired girl’s out there again. You know, the one that keeps driving really slowly by the house?... Do you think we should have installed a more elaborate security system? I mean, this time it seems she’s brought a gang."

"I don’t know, they look pretty harmless. Fer Pete's sake, look at that plastic rain bonnet. Besides, we’ll be out of here in a few weeks and the new owner will have to deal with her."

I figured the closing was going to be pretty interesting.

Then, two months later, at the moment of truth, I finally met the owners. We made small talk... you know, light chit-chat the way people involved in getting gigantic lumps sums of money, or signing away their first born child, do. I told them how pleased I was to have won the bid, and how I'd always wanted to live in a Victorian.

And one of the owners chuckled and said, "Actually, we were surprised we didn't meet you sooner. I mean, we thought you'd at least stop by to see the place a couple of times. I don't know how you resisted."

Erm, yeah. I smiled, nodded, chuckled noncommitally and I turned my attention quickly to signing away that first born child.

Never get cocky when it comes to home stalking. And always, always keep your triumphs to yourself.

PS- If anyone cares to vote for me for Humor Blogger of the Year over at Humorbloggers, I'd be mighty beholden if you clicked on the red box in the right sidebar and voted for Of Cabbages and Kings under Personal Blogs. Many graciases!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jenn ! And I know how you love your house considering how well you treat it - according to it's age and style !

I used to stalk houses too last year but unfortunately now, I'm at a point where I could to uproot myself and move half-way across the country. I've been thinking about it since last summer.
(Wish me luck !)

Unknown said...

Jaffer- I do indeed wish you luck-- It's nice to be all in one place and not have to move regularly. It's also nice not to have to deal with landlords. Plus, having my one friend there renting from me, it's not completely quiet and boring.

ReformingGeek said...

Great story. I love the "Abort" from the photo op.

Hubby and I did that after we put a contract on our house. We would drive by at least once a week and we were always embarrassed when we knew the owners were at home.

Unknown said...

ReformingGeek- Ah, so I wasn't the only house stalker around here? All right!!! It's just one of those great moments that's so hard to believe- and then you have to typically wait so long to close on the darned thing. It ends up feeling very unreal-- UNLESS you stalk your future house regularly. :)

Da Old Man said...

I'm glad your stalking efforts were so well rewarded. Usually, these things turn out badly.

Unknown said...

Da Old Man- Well, maybe they were just egging me on to see what I'd say.. :)

Melanie said...

Well, I don't feel so crazy now that I've read about house stalking. I've never stalked a house, but I have stalked a car or two that I wanted to buy.

Anonymous said...

I've never felt quite that way about a house, but that was very funny! ROFL!

I know what you're going to say. You're going to tell me I just haven't met the right house yet, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Melanie- Car stalking is much the same, yep. :) The thing with the car is, you get to have it sooner. The house, you buy and then wait weeks to close. That's when the stalking gets ugly. :)

Jay- How did you KNOW?! :)

Chat Blanc said...

Stalking just shows you care. A lot. :)