It can strike me at any time of the year, but it almost always happens in the spring: the itch to move.
Note to family, neighbors, friends and real estate agents: No, no, no, I am not going anywhere. I just said it's a little itch.
Last weekend, I gave the itch a little scratch.
I was headed to the grocery store, you see, when I noticed an open house sign on the corner of one of my favorite streets in the neighborhood.
Keep driving, I told myself. You are not moving.
A block or two later I turned the car around. What harm was there in driving by the place -- just to see what it looked like?
Even though, I told myself, I am not moving.
I drove by the house, took a look at the exterior and kept driving. But not far.
What harm was there in simply taking a look inside -- you know, just to see what it looked like?
I parked in front, walked up the driveway and put on my best "I'm-really-not-serious" expression. Avoid all eye-contact, I told myself. Inside the foyer, I realized I was carrying my grocery list in my hand.
I toured quickly -- living room, dining room -- yes, yes, very nice -- kitchen, family room -- very nice. Upstairs. Downstairs. Good-bye.
The itch was gone. I am not moving.
I know there are people out there who enjoy touring open houses -- almost as a hobby. That is not me.
To be truthful, I love my house. It's my childhood home. Our daughter sleeps in the room I grew up in (one difference: I managed to hang my pajamas on a hook in the morning rather than deposit them on the floor). Much of the landscaping was planted by my parents, who worked very hard on the place.
Yes, I love my house -- but I can still get a little itch now and then.
Here is what I tell myself between scratches: There are a couple things I don't like about my house.
One of them is that our dining room is small, and I like to entertain big. The laundry is in the basement, but I can certainly live with that. And the street to one side of our house, which sits on a corner in a residential neighborhood, is too busy at times.
Any house that gets us packing has to really knock my socks off -- and have a bigger dining room. But I am not really looking. Why? Because I am not moving.
I know other people who get the itch. One thinks about moving into the city. Another, to the country. These are not people who are restless by nature.
They just get that little itch now and then.
After my speedy tour of the house in my neighborhood, I jumped back in the car and headed -- as planned -- to the grocery store. But I had to wonder: What if I had loved the place? It met one criterion: It was located on a quiet street. What, I wondered, if it had had a bigger dining room and maybe even a first-floor laundry?
What if the price was right? What if it had knocked my socks off?
"Hi, I'm back from the store," I envisioned myself telling my family. "I bought milk, eggs and -- oh, yes, I almost forgot -- a new house. Start packing!"
That, of course, did not happen because, I repeat, I am not moving.
Instead, upon my return, I walked into my house with the small dining room and the basement laundry and felt good.
There's no place like home.