Tampa, Dallas, Baltimore and turkey
We rushed from San Francisco International Airport to Tampa, flying in on one early Fall Saturday, spending Sunday house hunting, before flying out later that evening.
The first four houses we’d put offers on fell apart. The latest, a Spanish style 1920’s stucco and tiled roof hacienda with a view of the Gulf of Mexico (from the second story) about broke my heart. No one could explain what happened. They just never signed the offer (that they had verbally accepted). It’s still on the market, now listed at a lower price than our offer.
“Not meant to be” became our mantra. With house 4 officially dead, we set out to find house 5.
You want to see someone blanche? Announce in the elevator of the Hilton Tampa International Airport you have 6 hours to look at 8 houses, and to purchase one.
About four houses in, we struck pay dirt. A 3,000 square foot, mid-century modern rancher designed by some big architect of that era, the one owner home sits on half an acre, is a short bike ride from the Gulf, a shorter ride to the nearest town, Palm Harbor, and boasts an in ground pool. I dubbed it: The Frank Loyd Wright House. Although, no, that was not the architect. Close enough.
We put in an offer and, two days later, that offer was accepted. Both, by the way, verbally and in writing.
A little drama followed, but fast forward to today. As I sit at a BWI airport gate, waiting on a flight to Las Vegas, Matthew and his sister pack up our Delaware house. In approximately 20 days the moving van will pull up, load everything I own onto the back of the truck, and we’ll begin a two day trek to the new home perched on Florida’s Gulf coast. Just about the time the rest of America settles into their turkey.
But not before ripping out that mid-century modern, 1978 harvest gold kitchen, tearing up all the carpet and tile in the house and buffing the exposed concrete floors to a glass shine, replacing the matching (avocado) washer and dryer, facelifting at least one bathroom, and replacing the patio lights with fake chandeliers, because everyone needs at least one (in this case two!) fake chandeliers lighting their patio next to the pool and fire pit.
I settled on the Tampa house (now belonging to a Tampa Green Screen Photographer 😉 while I was in Dallas, signing the paper work in my upgraded room at the Sheraton, downtown. Signing the papers on a house in Tampa, while sitting in a suite in Dallas, and running off to set up a photo execution (one of 7) for the Travel Channel, was not something I ever thought I’d do. And, while signing form after form after form after form, I couldn’t even remember the layout of the house.
So, when I returned home on Monday, I stashed that suitcase, packed another, collected Matthew, and we flew to Tampa less than 24 hours later to see our new home. And to sleep in our bedroom for the first time.
My heart pounded as I opened the front door. I mean, really. I looked for houses twice. Maybe a total of 15 houses. What if I just picked a crappy one? What if a vast, real estate conspiracy was launched against me to trick me into buying a Brady style dud?
After spending two nights in Palm Harbor, I know this:
We did GOOD.
And, in 20 days, my flights home will all point toward Tampa, instead of Baltimore. Cold nights will be in the 60’s, and we’ll light the fire place that’s never been lit.
This next year is going to be great.
Matthew’s sister, Margarete, is helping us pack as I write this.
I’ve never owned a pool, let alone one completely screened in.
|The first morning in our new house, the night spent on an air mattress — and awaking to 80* weather and a sparkling pool.