So, now, did I tell you all that I met with a mortgage broker (broker? Lender?) Monday night at the Starbucks across the street from my bellydance class? When I wrote about my unfortunate non-experience with Bradley from Why Not Own, a bunch of people wrote me to tell me that I certainly COULD own, and that really, I SHOULD own, and that getting on with owning would be a “smart investment choice” for me, whatever that means. Own own own, said the massed populace, one of which has the cutest and best houses ever and certainly know what they’re talking about. And then Renee from inFusion emailed me all “Girl, you need to talk to my former troupemate Michelle who is a lender [Broker?] and she will set you straight and she is lovely to boot.” A couple of emails and calls later and the discovery that we’d both be taking the 9:00 Monday night class and there we were at the Starbucks, discussing things like interest rates.

Interest rates and gross incomes and points and equity, all the stereotypically adult words that I don’t quite understand and that don’t seem to have anything to do with me. She asked me how much money I make, how much I have in savings, and what about tax-deductible retirement accounts? What kind of mortgage might I be interested in? How much risk am I prepared to take? And how long do I think I might want to stay in a first home, anyway?

That, I have to admit, was the weirdest question for me…and keep in mind that beautiful Michelle and I were only talking in the most vague terms, here. It was more of a friendly chat than a scary interview about money. I haven’t even totally decided that I want to own a place but I thought that getting more information about the whole process would be a good thing to do, and plus she gave me a free coffee card. I didn’t get too anxious at all until that point.

Without getting into stupid details, suffice it to say that I spent three or four of my almost-six years in Seattle essentially waiting around for someone else to decide the future course of my life for me. Did you just get oddly ashamed for me, like you wanted to raise your eyebrows and look down at the floor for a minute, just reading that sentence? Then you have and idea of one quarter of one-tenth of a percent of how ashamed I am for writing that sentence. I can’t even think about it too much without actually going into mourning, or something. It’s true, though: I was very focused on one area of my life for a long time and I thought, somehow, that if I could succeed in that area then all the other parts of my life would just sort of fall into place magically. Thinking about it now I can’t believe myself, but there you have it. I’m here now, thirty in fifteen days, and I have only started to think about The Rest Of My Life, which is why I went “Uh. How long? In a house? In Seattle? Uh, a while?” Michelle was forebearing and patient with me and made some notes on her pad of paper that I couldn’t quite make out but that maybe said “Hasn’t a clue. Got twitchy on certain questions. Spent that Starbucks gift card I gave her on hot chocolate instead of coffee like a real adult.”

So, yes, buying a place here in Seattle would entail settling here, at least for a while. Settling. Not settling in the wagon-train Gold Rush Manifest Destiny way, I don’t think, and not settling like you really wanted hot pink zipper jumpsuit but you’ll take the gold lame instead, but settling like the jowls of a former beauty queen. Settling like silt on the bottom of the riverbed, like a wheezing cat on a hair-matted loveseat. For no good reason, considering my deep and boring love for routine in general as well as for things like steel-cut oats and Brussels sprouts, I still have this half-colored-in image of myself as this sort of free and wild person, ready to take off on an adventure at a moment’s notice. There is absolutely NO evidence for this, as those of you who remember how I obsessed over a two-week trip last year may remember. I am in a perfect place to settle, me with my easy job and my bus commute and my 10:30 weeknight bedtime. It makes sense.

Except! Except for the Top Secret Plans, which I fear will never come to fruition but which I am holding out in front of my own face like a very complicated and expensive carrot. Those plans, should they come to be, which they totally won’t, except what if they do, would be the opposite of settling, at least for a little while. If everything all works out, which it might not. I can’t buy a house if I go ahead with the Plans. I can’t do the Plans if I buy a house.

Now clearly the point of this whole story is that you must, whatever you do, work exclusively with professionals who are also bellydancers. There is no excuse for doing otherwise, as one cannot replicate the immediate bond of trust and devotion one feels with an individual who can do a layback and then that arm thing that I don’t know what it’s called but you sort of do your shoulders in a big wide circle while doing snake arms. I told Michelle about everything and she was very understanding and explained some ways in which getting a place and Top Secret Plans, culmination thereof, might not be completely incompatible. She was sympathetic, I think, for all the freaked-out-ness I was feeling and she gave me a book to read and told me to do some research and keep her updated. Now that’s a lender/broker/officer/whatever. I’m completely terrified about even the idea of owning a place, but I have to say having someone to (camel) walk me through the initial stuff has been reassuring.

Similarly, I have to report that I have broken up with Zan my former hair lady…long story…and this evening I will be going to get a haircut from someone completely new, who also happens to be a bellydancer. My goal is to one day have a team consisting of accountant, plumber, roofer, eyebrow-waxer, and lawyer all of whom are bellydancers too. It’s so easy. You just say, “Hey, cabaret or tribal?” and if they look at you weird you just move on to the next person, and if they say “Well, I started off in cabaret but lately I’m into more fusion stuff” you just plop down your investment portfolio or your broken lawnmower and enjoy yourself, secure in the knowledge that you are working with the highest caliber professional who can isolate her ribs in a swoon-worthy manner.

See, this is the weird part. There’s a part of me that believes that I’ll always have a sort of nice normal life, punctuated occasionally by hair lady breakups or homebuying activities, and then I start having these grandiose visions of becoming a National Geographic correspondent or a burlesque dancer or something . I really really want these Plans to come through, and I (sort of) really want to settle, too, and the tension between those two is driving me mad in a long drawn out low-key way.

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