Tuesday, July 21, 2009
On the Unexpected Parallels Between House Hunting and Mastectomies
G and I are house hunting. For the past year or so, I've been keeping an eye on listings and occasionally going to an open house here or there, but in the last several weeks (since we lost power at our shanty for nearly a week following a perfect storm of falling trees, outdated transformers, unresponsive electric companies, and questionably competent landlords) we've gotten serious about our search. We're first time home buyers, and we want to put a contract in before the end of November to take advantage of the Obama tax credit, so time is of the essence.
This weekend, we fell in love with a place. I've fallen in love before, as has G, but this is the first time our hearts simultaneously have gone pitter-patter. As soon as we walked through the door, we looked at each other and knew. This was the ONE. It's an incredible condo on the tenth-floor of a new construction mid-rise with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Lake Michigan. It's everything we want--granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, in-unit washer and dryer, dual sink vanity, soaking tub--and more. And it's in our price range.
We first saw the condo on Saturday and went back again last night with our realtor. We've "reserved" the unit and, pending any major surprises, will probably put a contract in later this week. I'm unbelievably excited. But I'm so nervous. Last night, I tossed and turned for hours, unable to calm my mind. I couldn't stop thinking about the new condo. And I couldn't help but thinking how sad I'll be to leave our apartment.
A word about our current digs: we've been living there together for more than six years, and its walls are bursting with fond memories. Two summers ago, G even got down on one knee in our living room and asked me to marry him (at least I think he did. He asked me in Spanish. I don't really know why, since neither of us speaks it very well. Regardless, we're married now, so I hope that's what he wanted). But, to be brutally honest, the place is a dump. It sufficed when we we younger and poorer, but every time I look at the air-conditioning unit stuffed into our bedroom window and secured there with an old cutting board and lots of duct tape, I can't help but think it's time for a major upgrade.
But I'm scared. I'm scared of the unknown. We've, to be gross, marked our territory in our current apartment, proverbially peed in every corner. It's OUR place (even though, of course, it belongs to someone else). I can't picture us anywhere else.
The reason I bring this up on this blog is that, surprisingly, the way I feel about moving on from the only home G and I have ever known together has a lot in common with how I feel about having surgery. Both of these major life decisions are overlapping, and I'm realizing I can learn a lot about myself by exploring my anxiety about property ownership and my nerves about breast surgery--and what they have in common.
You see, just as I so desperately want a brand new condo, with central AC and generous cabinet space, I so desperately want brand new boobs, the kind that come without the freakishly high cancer risk. But I'm scared of both those things, too. I can't picture life in this new condo any more than I can picture my body with new breasts. Now that I'm so close to getting both of those things, though, I'm finding I'm reluctant to change, that sometimes the allure of the known can be deceptively comforting in the face of the unknown. But I can't let this govern my choices.
I wrote on Friday about finally making the call to my plastic surgeon. Even though I had made the decision to have a mastectomy months ago, I found it very difficult to actually schedule the surgery. Before, it was just a nebulous idea, an abstraction; today, it is real. Last week, I was just someone "considering" surgery. Today, I'm having it. And I want it. I really do. Last Thursday, I had dinner with S and S, two of my BRCA friends who've each had a PBM (with the same docs I'm using) in the last few months. We gossiped and drank wine, and before it was time to call it a night, they showed me their boobs. They looked fabulous. And I was SO jealous. I wanted boobs like those! I wanted to be done with surgery! And so the next day, I picked up the phone.
I found myself thinking today, what will I feel like when I'm done with surgery? What will it mean to have replaced my faulty breasts with new ones? Will I walk around in a constant state of disbelief that I've voluntarily swapped out healthy (for now) breast tissue for silicon implants? Will I be sad? Will I regret my decision? The same questions, ironically, can be applied to the condo. The truth is, I don't have the answers. But I know what I want. The obstacle is mustering the courage to make sure I get it.