Making wishes come full circle: a look at who we are

#464 in a series of true experiences in real estate
June 2004, Hills Newspapers

“That’s something I wish we were,” my daughter Annie said, “the kind of people who make cookies from scratch.” I had just been talking about a client, a pretty and fun woman who has two big dogs and who bakes cookies often. Annie would, I know, like her.

We fell again to a running discussion between us of things we wish we were, individually or family-wise. I’d started it by saying that I wished I were the kind of person who could go to Europe with a backpack, moving about at whim, landing confidently wherever I went. “But I’m not,” I’d said.

“That’s ok,” said always reassuring Annie. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know ahead of time where you’re going to sleep.”

“But,” she continued our game, “I wish we were the kind of family that has people over for dinner.”

“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I’m probably never going to be a dinner giver. But I wish we liked picnics. Lots of people seem to enjoy fixing food, packing it, taking it to the out-of-doors to eat, but we don’t.”

“I know another one,” I went on. “I wish I was a rock climber person.”

“Climb rocks – what for?” Annie wanted to know. “I don’t wish for that. But I wish we went on vacations more often. And I wish we were country club people.”

“You do?” I asked, surprised. “Why?”

“So many things to do at a country club,” she said. “The gym and golf and swimming,” she said. So I asked if she wanted to be a golfer person? “No, not really,” Annie answered.

I said I thought it would be good if we were tennis people. Did she?


But, better, she told me, for us to be dog-and-puppy people. Better yet, that plus cats, kittens, goats and horses.

“Oh, and I wish we still lived in a two-story house,” added Annie. “That’s what I’m gonna have when I have a house, a real house with an upstairs.”

“Well, I wish I could be a carpenter,” I told her. “If only I had the talent to work well with wood, hammering up those studs and roof rafters.”

Our conversations have got me to thinking about not what sort of people we wish we were but what sort of people we are. Not Annie, who at 19 is barely formed, but Anet and me.

Right off and obvious, both Anet and I are list makers, and so I began to make a list.

We like people. We like our job and certainly enjoy sharing it.

We are almost always on time. We try to be responsible and to be fair.

We pay our bills on time. We anticipate and plan ahead and we’re quite well organized.

We keep on hand extra supplies of things we use a lot, and we store them where we know we can find them.

We both love sushi and pot roast. Neither of us will eat green peppers.

Anet loves to drive. I prefer riding. It works well. She pumps the gas, even washes the car windows.

In spurts, we exercise. Not much backpacking, but treadmill walking occurs fairly often.

We’re very appreciative of those who provide us services: our car mechanic and our tree pruner, for instance. Property inspectors, painters, our stager — lots of people we depend on to do real estate — we couldn’t do without them.

We are project people. We’re good at figuring out the elements of a project, breaking it down into specific tasks, scheduling, gathering materials. We love doing things that have beginnings, middles and endings. We are happiest when we are wrapping up things satisfactorily.

Anet is the talker, the negotiator, the empathetic listener. She’s better than I am at patiently taking in every word and nuance of a story being told. I’m afraid that I tend to skip ahead, to form bigger pictures faster than is best.

She’s a morning person, cheerfully chirping on the phone while I silently read the newspaper.

Anet hangs back to get complete satisfaction. I’m the one already in the car.

We love thoroughness, so enjoy competence in any area, people who do what they do with care and skill.

Anet gets a big kick out of getting a bargain. She doesn’t buy things just because they’re a good deal but she does find ways to buy what she needs at the best price, her favorite purchases being office supplies and equipment discounted with coupons.

I do edges well. I like to sweep floors, hate the noise of the vacuum, don’t trust it to get the corners. I sweep the concrete in the garden, too, brush down cobwebs. Much of my gardening time is spent making clean edges.

Anet doesn’t garden, doesn’t like getting dirty, but she jumps at the chance to learn how to change a light fixture, fix a wonky doorknob, repair something on her car. It amazes me but she has frequently fixed a car just by wiggling things. She says the secret to electrical things is often to “give them a rest, then they’ll work again,” and this seems to be true.

And she loves to run numbers, always has, all of her life. One of her most prized possessions as a young child was a calculator. She can gleefully sit for long periods of time working all the different combinations for paying off a loan, over different periods at various interest rates. Or figure the most satisfying way to distribute after-tax lottery winnings. (No, she hasn’t won yet).

Anet follows national and international news, watches all the Sunday morning news commentators and interviews. I don’t. I concentrate on all the little small-time people stories in my daily newspaper and magazine reading.

Once we were at the ocean together. Anet stood on a big rock looking out at the vast sea. She drank in its power. I was busy with much smaller scale. I called to her, “Look at this teeny little red flower. I’ve never seen one like it.”

Then we traded places.

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