Friday, October 17, 2014

Where the heart is

So, I bid at a property auction the other night. Or, to be more exact, one of my many brothers bid, and I offered helpful suggestions from the sidelines. I felt kind of like Dennis Danuto in "The Castle" when they go to the high court and he passes notes to the retired QC inscribed with gems like "would you like a glass of water?" or "bloody good work".

The place I had my eye on wasn't a castle by any stretch of the imagination. It did, however, have the advantage of location...oh, and it was right near the airport! It had a few quirks, mind you. The linen closet was so narrow that you would have to roll your towels to fit them in. The bathroom needed a good scrub, and the hot water tank had its piping exposed in the kitchen, creating a "factory" effect. It wasn't, as the auctioneer claimed, full of modern appliances...not by any stretch of the imagination. But it was a small patch of the world that I had hoped I would soon call home.

I, accompanied by a small entourage of my closest friends and relations, sat in the front row. There facing us, in their pristine suits and slicked back hair, were the real estate agents. Gliding smoothly between client and home-owner-hopefuls, offering encouraging nods to those of us they have met before, their primary concern is apparent. The promise of profit glints in their eyes. Despite my sizeable party of supporters, I felt intimidated. Beating the money-hungry vultures at their own game was not going to be easy.

But unlike the Kerrigans, I didn't win in the end. Somebody else did. There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the vendor and highest bidder, as it hadn't even reached reserve. Seated beside my mum was the couple selling the property. Unsmiling and well dressed, they were clearly further along in life than those of us seeking to enter the property market. I wondered whether they remembered what buying their first place had been like. Had some older couple, unsmiling and well dressed, been firm and forced them just a little outside their comfort zone?

But eventually a price was agreed upon and the hammer came down. My groupies and I went and debriefed in the lounge area. It's just how things are with "the market", they assured me. Somebody was willing to pay more, and that dictated the final sale price. The amount I thought it was "worth" was irrelevant. And, someone added, the bubble has to burst soon, surely.

As I wandered home, without having made the biggest purchase of my life, it seemed important to stop for gelato. It's easy, I thought as I licked the mango and chocolate in equal measures, to lose sight of the important things in life. To be safe, well loved, and well fed are my top three. Everything else is a bonus. While I will probably get back on that soul-destroying capitalist horse again and hopefully end up one day with my very own patch of the world to call home, the most important investment of my life will always be the people around me, and not a great, big ....driveway.

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