July 10, 2021

The Dharma of Zillow Window Shopping.

I just got back from Burlington. The place is expensive (though not as expensive as my hometown). Sure, it’s wonderful in many ways, but it’s also somewhat dangerous, with rough edges. And yet…Zillow up a nice house, a house that used to be a right for middle class Americans, and you’ll find it out of reach.

If we live somewhere, but constantly dream of living somewhere else, where is home?

Like many over the Pandemic, I became a fan of Zillow Window Shopping, as I (and probably 1,000s of others) call it.

Why? I own a great home, one I bought 14 years ago with $500 bucks in my pocket, one I’ve sunk years and many thousands of dollars into eco-restoring (it’s an old Victorian). I’ve put so much love into my house, it’s become, truly, a home. I’ve lived here for many years, growing and changing and growing older, here. Redford, my half-hound rescue mutt, has spent his entire life here. I love my community, here in Boulder, and the notion of leaving is a story of loss. Lost connections, lost joys, lost memories.

But, too, climate change has come for the Colorado way of life, as it has for much of the world. Our summers are hotter and (even) drier. Gone are the afternoon thundershowers. Worst of all, the late summer and early fall has become “fire season,” our air grown gray and hazy and heavy and toxic to breathe. That’s no way to live.

And, then, Boulder has turned from weird hippie to white-painted yuppie (you know, they paint their houses white, and everything inside is white, too).

And so, in my spare moments, I type in “z…i…” and it pops up and I search.

While it’s fun to imagine another home, and see how others live, and find Queen Anne-turreted homes (my fave), and see how much money I could save…there’s a “not present-ness” to Zillow browsing. I live in Boulder…and yet, I no longer live in Boulder. I’m one foot in, one foot out. I think about running for City Council at the same time as I think about moving away. I’m no longer a truly, fully, madly, deeply contributing member of this community, and so I don’t help solve tough problems like homelessness down by our creek, or affordable housing, or our response to the changes of this climate emergency.

And then, I read this quote, the other day, via Shambhala Publications.

“Too much freedom can be a problem. You want to go when you stay, and you want to stay when you go. You want to have a change. You want to move to California or go to Africa instead of staying in your townhouse. You want to be a great poet instead of doing your plumbing. You want to change your life and make it brighter or more valid. There are all kinds of choices but they are not real choices, simply superficial demonstrations of freedom.

You wanting to go when you want to stay and you wanting to stay when you want to go are an expression of the restlessness of mind, which takes place all the time. When your disposition is like that, the best place by far is where you are sitting. Your present state is the most pleasant—you cannot get any better than this. You can make friends with your discomfort.”

~ Chogyam Trungpa

And so, as my momma used to say, “shit or get off the pot.” Go for it, or don’t. Two feet in, or two feet out.

And yet, the understanding part of me says, hey, it’s okay: all those hours of pleasant browsing…are a process of contemplation of what it means to live somewhere, or move somewhere else…and that’s okay.


For more: That house in Vermont.

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