26 August 2009

The Bachelorette

I know exactly how the Bachelorette feels. (In case you are not familiar, the Bachelorette is a TV show in which one woman meets and dates 20+ men and, over the course of perhaps three months, whittles them down to her one true love, to whom she will become engaged and then break up with at some point in the not-too-distant future -- probably within the time it takes to build a house, actually.)

Similarly, I started out approximately three months ago with several builders in contention for my love...er, my money. I was quickly and painlessly able to eliminate some of them and now have three solid contenders who are bidding on the construction of our house.

Invariably, as the season winds down, an increasingly distraught Bachelorette makes emotional declarations to the camera: "I have three great guys, and I don't know what I'm going to do." "I'm falling in love with more than one person." Wow. Intense.

Likewise, we wouldn't be getting bids from these three if we couldn't see a future with each of them. Each could build us a quality house that we would love. However, we have developed a clear preference: Builder R. Our preference is so strong that we wouldn't even bother getting bids from the other two if we were certain we could afford R, but we aren't certain, so we are keeping the others in the mix just in case R breaks our hearts, by which I mean our budget. (I suspect that, by the last couple of weeks, the Bachelorette has also made her choice, but she has to keep the others until the appropriate time, as dictated by the show's formula of one elimination "rose ceremony" per week.)

But even if we ride happily into the sunset with R, it's still hard. In the division of labor on this project, I've been the one to cultivate the relationships with the builders, and I'll be the one to have to break up with two of them. And they are quality builders, and decent people, and times are tough (especially for builders, but also, I suppose, for single people who feel compelled to look for love on primetime TV).

We have met with each builder 2-3 times and have shared countless e-mails and/or phone conversations. Each time, we get engrossed in their ideas, and each of them has made contributions that have been incorporated into our plans. In the moment, talking with one of them about air conditioning systems, plumbing fixture selection, or their preferred insulation method, it's hard to imagine not having them build our house. But the others aren't R, and it's even harder to imagine R not building our house.

Season after season, each Bachelorette worries that the man she chooses won't want to marry her. This is silly. They always want to marry her (even though we know that, one way or another, there won't actually be a wedding). The Bachelorette doesn't have to worry that she doesn't have enough cash for her chosen suitor, but she still has to break up with the runners-up, with whom she could totally see herself if an even more suitable prospect weren't also in the picture. It's heart wrenching. I know.

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