I spend the greater half of my time looking at real estate. In between meetings, in waiting rooms, on conference calls. I’m not in the market but still, I’ll pull up Zillow or Redfin just as quickly as others do Instagram and Facebook. I’ll usually start out with an attainable search within my budget but slowly I’ll add a zero and increase the number of bedrooms only to find myself looking at $3.4M homes that are $3M over budget and in Italy. I’ll wonder what my life would be like if I lived there. Would I write more? Would I finally learn guitar? A bigger kitchen would certainly make me a better cook. And that open shed in the backyard? Add a flat weave rug and an easel and I’d be fucking Picasso by next year. All of my problems would dissipate as though they never existed. I would finally be who I was always meant to be.
There’s a house on a river in upstate New York that would make me a better homesteader. I’d master the most fruitful garden on the acre and patch up my kid’s scuffed arm with a concoction of aloe and supplements from said garden. I’d own my own goats, make my own cheese and never have a sinus infection again. We’d spend our summer building a barn where we’d host dinner parties filled with friends and neighbors. My own firm would be based in the city, so I’d happily commute once or twice a week, knowing it was at my leisure. I’d come home, build a bonfire and we’d marvel at the stars in the blackened sky, content with the purity that had become our lives.
There’s an apartment in Madrid just a few blocks from the neighborhood plaza. In the evenings, I’d dance in the arms of a Spanish man who’d hold me close as a string quartet played nearby. Locals would watch, nostalgic for their own fading youth and the love they once held. I’d perfect my Spanish and spill colors upon canvas by the sea. Work would take me by train to European cities, where I’d turn in pages of essays I’d written in the mornings with coffee. They’d be filled with words of the struggles that led me here and my editors would laugh only knowing the future me. Look at you now, they’d say.
There’d be summer nights spent on a lake in Idaho chasing fireflies into the dark. I’d wear more flowing dresses and spin and spin until the world became a Monet painting. I’d remember the texture of nature as my toes wiggle through the grass, something I often longed for in the desert heat. A hammock would be fastened between two pines behind my little wood cabin that wouldn’t be much, but just enough. If only I could just find work in Idaho…
The Los Angeles loft a few miles away. It sits on the dried, desolate LA River, where restaurants and shops are on the verge of major development. The big industrial windows would invite the light in to wake me in the mornings. My daily bike ride would begin at the coffee shop where I’d nod to the local barista who takes my order each day. I’d turn my space into a studio, cluttered with mindless paintings and sculptures. At my monthly meet up with fellow artists, we’ll share our art, finding community within each other. We’ll wonder where we’d been all this time.
There’s a place on the Chattahoochee River for sale near my parents in Georgia…
West Fjords, Iceland! Somewhere I can really escape. And finally, a place to wear my sweaters and that heavy duty waterproof coat I’ve had in storage for 4 years. I’d buy a few sheep. And every afternoon, I’ll dip my mug into the creek in my backyard for fresh water and embrace that poignant sulphuric scent. I can smell it now…
People tell me I’d love London. There’s a furnished flat in Shoreditch that’s not far from this one company I spoke with a few years back. I wonder if they’d hire me, even just for a year. One year in London is better than no years in London.
New York. The geographical love of my life. I’d move happily around the city streets bundled in layers. My boyfriend and I would be greeted by the bartender in our neighborhood watering hole. He’d pour us our usuals, first round always on the house. I’d rest my head on his shoulder as we read from the same book on the train. If I could just show him the person I was when I lived there nearly 5 years ago. After all, New York me was a better me.
By now, Zumper will have asked me if I’m a robot because I’m speeding through listings at a suspect rate. I sure do feel like a robot, I want to say.
If you see me looking at my phone, I’m not playing games or scrolling Instagram. No, when I’m looking at my phone, I’m dreaming of another place. I spend the greater half of my time wishing I was somewhere else. And when I switch off my phone for the night, I’ll place it on the nightstand next to my bed in my LA apartment. I’ll fall asleep, only to continue dreaming of any place other than here.