I remember sitting in the backseat with my brother next to me and my mom and dad in the front. We would drive around, looking at houses, slowing down in front of each one. Mom would lean over and point out the things she liked and disliked and Dad would comment on the glazing or the flashing or the landscaping and sometimes Mom would take notes. They were always planning their dream house. I would get dragged along on house tours on what seemed like every Saturday. We listened to realators pushing different features and Mom would have her notepad out, pen ready for whatever scrap of information she could get.
When I was old enough to ride in the front seat, we started building the house. They had been saving for their entire lives. They were high school sweethearts and got married after graduating college. The way it plays out in my mind is like this: my mom and dad are just standing in the central room, a kitchen/dining room/living room/office of their first tiny, tiny apartment that they rented. Mom turns to Dad and says, "Honey..." and her eyes flick from the brown carpet to the yellow floral wallpaper to the frilly polyester lace-imitation curtains and then he says, "Yeah." and then they decide to do whatever they can so that they don't have to live in a place like that forever.
Now I sometimes drive my mom places, and we still slow down in front of houses. When they drop me off at school in D.C., my parents drive around all the neighborhoods they find, ignore the GPS which, at this point, is urging them to make the next legal U-turn, and again comment on garage door styles and masonry and the like.
With all that said, this kind of stuff has been ground into my system more firmly than dirt into a doormat. I can't help that in my mind, I renovate every building I see.
These days, when I need to get out of their dream home (which for reasons I will not go into at the moment, do not like) I drive around Allentown and discover things. I love the Art-Deco that can be seen under all the different layers of renovations. I like some of the refurbishment that's going on, I like it when people take pride in their homes' appearances. The politics underneath it all get very discouraging, but hope remains. It just needs to be crafted and, well, let's use the word renovated.
I like that word.