David Byrne as a Metaphor for Life

There are few moments in life more surreal than signing a “Residential Offer to Purchase” on a home, but that’s exactly what Tara and I did on Thursday night.

You know the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime”? The one where David Byrne spouts lyrics like,

And you may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”

That was totally me yesterday. One year ago, all of this would have been unthinkable – and yet, here we are. We submitted an offer on a house. In Wisconsin. Not only Wisconsin, but Fort Atkinson, of all places. A town we had never even heard of before. We only ended up here because we needed an apartment quickly and Fort had an immediate vacancy. This was only supposed to be a temporary stopover while we searched for a home in Madison. This house is most assuredly not Madison. Hell, it’s barely in Fort. It’s a rural subdivision on the outskirts of town. When we pulled up to the house to meet Justin the Realtor on Thursday afternoon, roosters were crowing across the street.

And you may say to yourself, “My God, what have I done?”

What can I say? Fort Atkinson charmed us almost from the moment we set foot here. Turns out this small town of 12,489 – I guess we can make that 12,491 now – is the very definition of a hidden gem. It’s got a charming downtown, a beautiful riverwalk, a bunch of great bars and restaurants and parks, and of course, that library. What’s not to love? Madison is still an easy 45-minute drive to the west, and Milwaukee, about an hour east. We’re basically smack dab in the middle. And cheaper than both cities. So, it’s not surprising that we decided to set our sights on finding a home here. I just never expected that home to include almost an acre of land, let alone a septic system and private well.

Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground.

So, about this house. We actually looked at it when it was first listed back in early December. Sat in the car staring at it for a good 10 minutes. The setting is gorgeous: the home is situated on .8 acres and lushly landscaped, with mature trees, three ponds, a waterfall and bridge, a grapevine-covered arbor. By thinning out a few of those trees, Tara would have plenty of room for her dream garden. And the house itself has some great features. Not one, but two garages. A covered porch swing. A heavy duty wood stove. And a heated driveway. I never even knew such a thing existed! Ultimately though, we passed. My big issue was walkability, or lack thereof. Being in a country setting, there are no sidewalks, and I’m a near-daily walker. A few days later the house had an offer, so it was a moot point anyway.

The real estate market is dead this time of year, and inventory around here is so limited, the few houses that did pop up for sale were always snatched up quickly. We’d had a showing scheduled on one, but it sold before we could get there. Then we were going to check out an open house, but that was cancelled because it sold too quickly. We realized that whenever the perfect property came along, we would have to act fast.

Wednesday afternoon, Tara emailed me. I see the contract on that house fell through. Would love to know the inside scoop on that one. It had been awhile, so I started looking through the listing pics again. Just for fun.

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

The house really is beautiful, and all that land was awfully appealing. Last weekend, driving by rural properties on the way to New Glarus, something stirred in me. I suddenly understood the appeal of a country lifestyle. Let’s face it, people suck. The fewer around, the better. When I got home from work, I told Tara we should reconsider the house. She was down, so we reached out to Justin the Realtor, and he scheduled a showing on Thursday at noon. I think we pretty much knew we were going to make an offer the moment we started looking around. Naturally, we wanted to know why the first offer had been rescinded. Turns out the sale was contingent on the buyers’ house selling, and that did not happen. Apparently they were devastated. I feel badly for them, but not too badly, you know?

We officially submitted our offer that evening, and a tense 24 hours followed. JTR checked in with us mid-morning, letting us know the listing agent had forwarded our offer to the sellers and they had acknowledged it, but there was a slight hitch. The agent had jumped the gun and shouldn’t have re-listed the property because the original buyers hadn’t yet formally rescinded the offer and technically still had until the end of the day to pull together financing. JTR said it would be “a miracle” if that happened, but we live in strange times, so I certainly wasn’t assuming the house was ours.

My work day ended at noon, so I walked to Tara’s office to meet her for lunch. We drove through the rural subdivision again and found a 52-acre park basically right around the corner from the house. With hiking trails and wetlands and ponds and woods. Honestly, if we had seen that when we first looked at the house in early December, we would probably already be living there now. That lack of sidewalks suddenly didn’t matter. Seeing the park, we decided we really wanted the house and were willing to pay full asking price if it came to that.

‘Course, we didn’t tell anybody else that.

Finally, at 4:36, JTR texted. You two have time for a call? This was it! Immediately, my heart started racing and I tried to read into things. Normally, our business with JTR was conducted via text. Was a phone call a good sign or a bad sign? And then, when he conferenced us all in, he took two excruciating minutes to get to the point.

The news was good. The sellers had agreed to all terms of the offer except for one. “Care to guess what that is?” JTR asked.

“The price,” Tara and I said in unison.

Bingo. And at that point, I knew the house was ours, because we’d already decided we were all in to the max. Their counter was a compromise – $8K more than our offer, but $6K below asking. Which was more than fair, considering JTR was able to surmise that the original buyers had made a full-price offer. We accepted on the spot, and about an hour later, it was all official. That’s when our celebration began. Brandy Old Fashioneds felt very appropriate for a new life in Wisconsin.

You may ask yourself, “What is that beautiful house?”

It’s ours! That’s what it is!!

JTR called a little later to let us know we were locked in, and shared some other interesting news. Apparently, there were four showings for the house scheduled over the weekend. He is 100% sure it would have been sold by Sunday regardless. Thank god we swooped right in and moved quickly! Testament to how competitive the marketplace is around here, even in the dead of winter and with high interest rates.


Lots of work ahead obviously. Good god, the thought of moving again makes me want to crawl into a hole. Seems like we just did that!

Oh, wait. We did just do that.

But a 10-minute drive is a lot easier than a 12-hour one, and we’ll be able to make lots of trips back and forth moving stuff. We are hiring professionals for the big items, because it took me months to recover from an arm sprain suffered moving in, and kayak season isn’t that far off.

So much more to say, but this post is long enough and I’ve got shit to do.

Coming soon: the eerie parallels between this home purchase and the Rapid City house, the seller’s interesting background and close community ties, and our planned timetable. Stay tuned!

66 thoughts on “David Byrne as a Metaphor for Life

  1. Lushly landscaped with three ponds and a waterfall? Damn Sam, you hit the backyard jackpot. Congratulations! It sounds like an absolutely perfect location though I had to laugh at your small town of 12k. Ours is slightly over 3k… which probably includes chickens.
    Looking forward to your adventures in the new house.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m actually completely jealous/envious of you and Tara. I only wish I had the balls to just pick up and move and let the chips fall where they may, I also am petrified to do so. My own house is paid off in 3 years, which gives me time to figure out what I want to do and where I want to do it. Oh…and yes, you SHOULD get that Jeep and sassy license plate…hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hear that from a lot of people. Trust me, the only reason we’re so willing to take big leaps of faith like this is because of our backgrounds. We’re both used to moving every few years, so it’s no big deal for us. Having said that…NO MORE MOVES. I’m ready to settle down for good.


  2. Congrats! Now you can start shopping for mid-century modern furniture to populate the place.

    If your chatty neighbor is bummed about you moving . . . make sure you invite her and her bottle opener to your house warming party.

    Have fun dreaming about getting all your lava lamps back out on display! And don’t forget the fondue forks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Make sure you understand your septic system. It’s not like you can put anything down the drain. When they’re happy, they work great. When was it pumped last? Where’s the drainfield? Stuff like that is useful to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So lemme guess. The previous owner was an old lady who died there? Wait, maybe an old man just to change things up? She or he had flowers growing, neighbors loved the old fart, the house is still haunted with his/her memory????

    Love the lyrics interspersed. Well done. Esp: You may ask yourself, “What is that beautiful house?” It’s ours! That’s what it is!!

    That was brilliant. Whole thing, so amazing. The park around the corner that you missed the first time? Fantastic. Very happy for you guys.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think they probably will know us as the people who live in Dick’s house! (Actual name, not an insult.)

        But people in Rapid City knew us as the folks who lived in Doris’ old house, so we’re used to that anyway. One of the many parallels of which I will be writing!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Woot woot! So happy for you guys! I love the Talking Heads lyrics interspersed throughout. So, is Fort Atkinson considered a suburb of Madison or is it too far away?
    I enjoyed the tour of your new home and I bet you guys will have fun deciding what kitschy decor to keep and what you will change. Our previous home had the exact same banister style separation between rooms. We took them out and put one larger Doric? Type of column at the end, painted all white. It really opened up the space between the two rooms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, now I’m seeing those spindles everywhere. I was watching old episodes of “Cheers” this morning and they’re all over Sam’s bar. Who knew? I do like the Doric column idea, too.

      Fort Atkinson is too far to be considered a suburb of Madison or Milwaukee. Or even Janesville, where I work. It’s pretty much just its own little community. I have a friend who grew up in Wisconsin and she has never even heard of the place, ha.


  6. Wuhoo!! First of all, congratulations to you two. And I love how you wrote this post with Talking Heads lyrics along the way. Brilliant and fun — just like the two of you and your new house. Love that you loved it from the get-go and jumped on it this time around. Perfect!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kinda kicking myself for not setting up a showing at the beginning of December, although this does make for a better story/blog post. Which, of course, is really what it’s all about.


  7. Congratulations!!!! That looks like a very nice house and so great that you have all the walking hiking trails nearby!

    Please God, may I sell my Mom’s house as quickly and easily as you bought your house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! We also sold our Rapid City house really fast. I’m not sure what the market is like in your neck of the woods, but this is proof that the whole process can (and does) move pretty quickly!


  8. The whole manifesting thing works really well when you do the work behind the scenes and are totally prepared (as you clearly have). Many congrats – your house looks lovely. Looking forward to hearing ever more about it all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I started this post last night, was taken away from it, and just finished it this morning. I can not get the song out of my head! Thanks for that David Byrne.
    I’m so happy for you both! The house and land are lovely, and you will enjoy having space and quiet. Just think, this move might be your last? Maybe?
    How far is it for you guys to get to work?
    Congratulations–I can already see Tara’s gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason, that song just spoke to me. This had BETTER be our last move. That’s the plan, anyway! It’s a seven-minute drive to work for Tara. About 30 minutes for me (same as it ever was), but then again, I work from home three days a week so it’s not much of an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

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