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Recall that our last house-hunting trip to Flagstaff was, in general, a miserable disaster. After a discouraging weekend, we thought we finally had found a place to live, but upon consultation found that the neighborhood of our rental-to-be is part of a Department of Justice-initiated rejuvination program. Now, rejuvination is without a doubt something positive, but we had to ask ourselves: Do we want to chose to live in the middle of it? Our unease was compounded by the unfortunate name of the DOJ project: “Weed and Seed.” Seriously, the DOJ’s flagship community involvement effort turns out to share a name with a mixed-quality dime bag. The neighborhood is, in fact, marked at every intersection with special Weed and Seed street signs.

We couldn’t do it, so we turned down the rental, and returned to the stress of looking for a home from four hours away, and this weekend we made another trip to town. What a difference a couple of weeks makes. First off, we met my double-secret cousin (not really a secret at all, but our relation is muddied enough that its precise nature remains a little mysterious; it’s clear that we’re somehow related, however, because her toddler son and I share the Estruth Legacy Chin). We dropped off the dogs to run themselves in circles in her backyard, and trooped off for what we hoped would be a better experience. And holy cow, everything was better: We looked at two houses and two townhouses, and could have very happily lived in three of them; the second townhouse was a bit less our speed, but would have done in a pinch, unlike anything from the last expedition. They were all clean, well-maintained (even brand new in one case), and we could imagine ourselves in every one. Unbelievable. Not a single landlord suggested that we should buy a lawnmower to take care of his yard.

The house we picked seemed charmed. Its location isn’t as ideal as the first house we visited (instead of a ten minute bike ride to downtown, it’s a ten minute drive away from Flagstaff, just a few miles outside of town), but it’s just right for us: Part of a little mountain community, it sits right next to the national forest and is cozy in none of the horrifying ways I outlined last time. So we’re in, and we can now focus on finishing our Tucson work and making the transition. Much still to do, but finding a place to live that we think we’ll really enjoy has lifted a tremendous mental burden.