March 11, 2010

The Dinosaur Room

We had looked at 5 houses already that day. By all definitions, Evie was a trooper. She led us through each house like a pint-sized realtor, saying "That's a nice kitchen" or "Time to go upstairs!" By the time we got to the last house, it was nearing naptime and lunchtime and any reasonable almost-3-year-old would have run out of good humor.

Evie didn't know that her parents had seen this house once before, nearly a month earlier, on our first day of house hunting. It was an improbable choice: farther out in suburbia than we had envisioned, a different floor plan than we had pictured, and firmly outside of our price range. But we had looked anyway, and something about that house stuck with us.

After that first visit, we had returned to the neighborhood. We drove just up the road to downtown Excelsior, admiring the quaint shops, poking into the patisserie, and imagining the ice fishermen on Lake Minnetonka being replaced by yachts and ferries in the summer. We drove the other direction into Chanhassen, exploring the familiar string of suburban chain offerings that make every city in America feel like an alternate version of home.

We scoped the bus schedules, the rush hour traffic on Highway 7, and the test scores for the school district. We had given this house more serious thought than any other place we had seen, but we hadn't told Evie about any of this.

She walked in the door and immediately started dancing. Spinning, twirling, dancing through each of the vacant rooms until she collapsed in a giggling dizzy heap. She ran downstairs and found another room in which to twirl, then another. "Look at all these dancing rooms!" she cried. "Momma, you gotta try this!"

I didn't dance, but her enthusiasm was infectious. In an uncharacteristically presumptuous statement, I told Evie, "Let's go upstairs so you can pick out your room."

"I want the dinosaur room!" she shouted as she climbed up the stairs for the first time.

It was an empty house, so I wasn't sure what differentiated one bedroom from another, but I smiled along. Evie loved dinosaurs, and if she was on a quest for a dinosaur room...

"Ah, here's the dinosaur room!" she said proudly, entering the bedroom just across from the master. She pointed to the closet, which a previous occupant had decorated with stickers, and promptly identified a pteranodon and a stegosaurus.

I'll be honest; I loved the house from the moment I saw it. Sam was right there with me. Rationally, the decision was too big to be made in a single day, but intuitively we felt this just might be home. Evie affirmed our intuition and added a dash of magic to the narrative.

Today, we reached a purchase agreement with the sellers of the dinosaur house. Assuming no financial or inspection-related catastrophes, that is where Evie and Blasto will grow up. Blasto will never have lived anyplace else, and Evie will likely remember none of this. Right now, she thinks of it as the Dinosaur House. Someday, soon, it will just be home.

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