Susan Lacke details her “different” search for a house suitable for two triathletes, their dogs and a treadmill.
Last Thanksgiving, I went to Utah to spend the holiday with Neil’s family. His twin brother Wayne had just built a new house, and as we toured the swanky digs for the first time, Neil and I couldn’t help but slightly mock Wayne behind his back:
“Ooooh! Look at me! I’m so important, with my granite countertops!” We tittered under our breath, “I have a giant tub in my master bathroom! I’m better than you!”
Though we were happy for Wayne and his family, Neil and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of superiority for our own, slightly nomadic lifestyle. We didn’t want to buy a house, we reasoned, because we were triathletes! We’d rather buy nice bikes and travel the world for races. In a way, we almost pitied Wayne for buying a house – he’d be stuck, forever, in one place, with the same people. How depressing!
Later that night, under the influence of Tryptophan and wine, those sentiments slipped out. Wayne’s wife leaned forward with a kind smile:
“Yeah, but don’t you want to have a place to call home?”
That night, after everyone else had gone to bed, Neil and I discussed the idea in hushed tones. On the flight back to Arizona, we spoke in hypotheticals about what kind of neighborhood we’d want to live in – one with safe riding, in the vicinity of a lap pool, and within a reasonable distance of good running trails.
Within a week of returning to Phoenix, we were meeting with a real estate agent to check out houses.
“So what are you two looking for?” asked Christy, our agent.
We outlined our desires – something with at least two bedrooms, a backyard for our dogs and enough space for all of our triathlon equipment. At the last requirement, she cocked her head:
“Um, how much equipment are we talking about here?”
As we listed off treadmills, bikes, wheels, running shoes, clothing and weights, she tried to cover up her confusion with a smile:
“Wow. That’s….um…different. You know what, let’s just look for three bedroom houses. With big rooms. Okay?”
After visiting several unimpressive homes one day, Neil and I began to wonder if we should abort our home ownership plans. But Christy was tenacious, and encouraged us to keep looking.
“Keep going! The finish line is in sight!” she cheered, awkwardly leaning in for confirmation, “That’s what you athlete types say, right?”
At the last house of the day, Neil and I pulled up in the driveway and took stock of the property’s exterior.
“Well, here goes nothing.” Neil sighed loudly. “At least it’s close to Molino’s. That’s enough reason to buy the house, right?”
Molino’s is our favorite Mexican restaurant, where we often refuel after long rides, sunburnt and clad compression socks. I looked at Neil across the car and laughed at this logic. Where some homebuyers looked at neighborhood value, we were concerned about proximity to post-ride enchiladas. Triathletes are “different,” indeed.
When we walked in, we were pleasantly surprised. As we walked through the house, Christy pointed out the features:
“There’s some amazing granite countertops in the kitchen…and this area would make a great office….oh, this third bedroom would be an perfect guest room or nursery –“ she caught herself mid-sentence, “or your…um…bike…room?”
We smiled and gave her the thumbs up. We were sold.
The next few weeks were a whirlwind of boxes, cleaning and unique discoveries as we packed up our old house (I’m still trying to figure out how we ended up with eight sets of bike wheels and 38 pairs of running shoes). On Christmas Eve, we started moving into the new house. Tired from a long day of moving, we celebrated the holiday with carryout from Molino’s.
Neil and I are now the proud owners of granite countertops, though they’re often covered in water bottles and crumpled gel wrappers. The giant tub is a fantastic vessel for ice baths. In perhaps the most responsible act we’ve ever committed, our dining room has an actual dining room table – not a treadmill, as was the case in our old place.
Yes, we still spend far too much money on our bikes. This summer, as with every summer, we’ll spend more time out of the house training than we do inside of it. During race season, we’ll continue to travel often, letting a friend crash in our guest room in exchange for dog-sitting services. I guess you could stay we’re still “different.”
But one major thing has changed: at the end of the day, when the bikes are tucked away in “their room” and I’m snuggled up on the couch with Neil, I sigh contentedly. This is the place where I’m going to grow old with my man, our dogs, and our treadmill. Our sister-in-law was right.
It’s nice to have a place to call home.