Shortly after we arrived, Husband and I moved into a house belonging to Father In Law’s friend, who was on holiday with his family for a month. They had two cats that seemed to spend obscene amounts of time licking their arses. Husband erupted in explosions of snot vapour as soon as he walked in the door, which meant the cats were particularly fond of him: one liked to serenade outside the bedroom door at 3am, and they left him dismembered gifts strewn around the living room floor.
Since we were still eating at The Outlaws’ we were effectively living between two houses, which was quite unsettling. After a couple of weeks we moved back in with The Outlaws and 24/7 fridge access, and unpacked our bags.
We were keen to find our own place, so embarked on an intense campaign of house hunting – despite the entire country being shut for Christmas holidays. Father In Law donated a vintage Mazda redolent of wet dog, mould and rotten fabric. The windscreen wipers were rusted in place and the car hosted a colony of industrious pet spiders. The hazard warning lights were possessed and turned on randomly of their own accord. Husband grew proficient at driving with his knees, while shoving the driver’s window back up with both hands. It also had a wide turning circle, as Husband discovered when he did an illegal U-turn and took out someone’s dustbin.
“Think I’ll miss that?” he asked, three milliseconds before booting it across the garden.
Three days into its touring career, the car refused to start. It didn’t look great waving goodbye to prospective landlords as we pushed the car down the road.
Husband took issue with my jump-starting:
“Niamhie, you have to POP! the clutch. Just let it go. POP! Like that.”
“Well, you know, maybe you need to PUSH! harder. PUSH! There you are.”
Husband had barely schooled me in the art of POP!ping when he intimidated me into attempting the reverse jump-start:
“What are you complaining about? It’s easy. Just do the same thing, backwards.”
I was so flustered by the POP!ing in reverse – and Husband’s straining face in the windscreen – that I nearly backed into a parked car.
It hasn’t taken long to become disillusioned with the rental market. The standard of property ranges from almost habitable to ‘hovel’. This was Husband’s pronouncement on a couple of properties (I never knew he was that high maintenance; it came as quite a shock). In a couple of places, the owner’s crap was stored on the premises. One had locked the door onto the back deck (Real Estate Agent: “Don’t worry: the landlord can come around the side of the house, he won’t bother you at all.”) and another had a garden studio/shed filled with rusty lawnmower rotors and teddy bears with one arm and computer monitors with the face kicked in.
There are frequent disagreements between the budget and the wish list, never mind the frequent disagreements about what comprises the wish list. Auckland City has never much appealed to me, so I’m looking for something quiet and private outside the city.
Husband’s wish list is more . . . let’s call it spontaneously organic. He agrees with the private and quiet – but not countryside because there are no shops and it’s too exposed and damp in winter and cows give him the willies. He turned down a property on Huia Road, on the brand new basis that a three-car garage was a minimum requirement. After accompanying Father In Law on a business trip to Sydney, Husband requested a beach-front location with direct access to the pounding surf.
I assumed he was joking when he specified a helicopter pad.
One morning, we went to see a privately owned property in Greenhithe on the North Shore. Although it was uncomfortably close to a main road, it was surrounded by bush and newly renovated. We were almost tempted.
“I won’t lie,” said Husband to the owner, “we’re very interested. But we have more properties to view, so we don’t want to commit just yet, you understand. We’ve got appointments with several Real Estate Agents today – stop POKING me Niamhie – they’ve been closed for the holidays, you know, so we’ve got several lined up. But this is a lovely house and thank you for your time and I’m sure we’ll be in touch.”
“You know earlier, when you were going on about our action-packed property viewing schedule?” I shouted back through the open window as Husband pushed the car down a hill.
“You know it’s Sunday?”
“It is? Oh.”