Appearances can be deceiving

Dorothy L. Harris

"Trust me," she said, "If you like how they look in the online photos, go see for yourself and get it out of your system. Posted pictures can look a lot different than the real thing, kind of like online dating."

What I was viewing on my iPad wasn't a "who" but rather a "what." Scrolling through endless photos and descriptions, I couldn't help but laugh at how my friend compared our electronic searching to this modern form of meeting people. Viewing house ads is probably a lot like online dating, which I know nothing about other than what I hear. I'm told that 99 percent of it is bad; kind of like the houses we've been looking at.

Mr. Harris feels cramped so we have begun the delightful torture of considering a move. I must admit some days I completely agree with him that our current home is too small. Then I consider all we have done over the years or step into my lovely backyard and think, this is really nice. When we think about how our teen will soon head off to college, we wonder how much house we really need. Thus we go round and round, flipping from feeling a need to move to realizing how expensive it is. Can you hear the swish of our pendulum from where you are?

When we get to this stage, we think carefully about other options. Maybe we should build a two car garage at our current home or put in a pool. Then we look at the house layout, our small lot and realize it's not possible. We play with sketches and fantasize about ripping out our kitchen to replace it with fancy new stuff like the homes in the online photos.

Thus we return to my friend's wisdom. Seeing homes in the real world, instead of in their digital fantasy land often is a rude awakening. I suspect this is where that online dating comparison comes in. What looks wonderful in a virtual tour often shocks us when we see it up close and personal.

I'm amazed at the size of homes compared to the size of the property some of them sit on. These stunners are so close to their neighbors that Mr. Harris remarks he could stick his hand out the window and ask for some toilet paper should we run out. That's a bit too close for our comfort, saying nothing of how the folks next door might feel about it.

We've seen foreclosures missing only the creepy music from the Psycho movie playing in the background. We've seen a "red room" reminiscent of The Shining and have had more exposure to people experimenting with color than a body should have to. We often sit down with a cup of steaming coffee and a few double-stuff Oreos to take turns startling each other with the iPad. "Oh wait till you see this," I'll taunt, directing a particularly disturbing virtual tour his way. "Oh my God," he'll reply, his body twitching in revulsion, "What could they have been thinking?"

On it goes on. We save money, can't find what we want, get frustrated and spend the money elsewhere. Time goes by and we see something we like, starting the whole process over again. Our friends recently found the perfect house, though, so we will continue our search until our saint of a realtor quits. Surely the right match is out there somewhere or are we perhaps already in it?