There are a few reasons why I love home opens.
Sure, you get to get a feel for the house you might end up living in and check out if that really was carpet in the bathroom or just a bad stain…. but, well, let’s be frank, it’s one of the few times you’re allowed into a strangers house when they’re not there and not get arrested.
The thing is, when the agent would ask if I needed any help or information about the property, I would always say how I was happy ‘just looking’ – by that, I meant I was ‘just looking at the tenants’ belongings’ – not measuring doorways and knocking on stud walls.
It was like going over to a bloke’s place for the first time. You casually meander through the joint, craning your neck to check out his CD collection, book shelf (or book shelves – swoon!) and what I consider the ultimate window to the soul: what’s magnetised on the fridge door.
Home opens should be called ‘Home Judgments’, because, even if I’m not in the housing market at all and simply, I dunno, heading over to mum’s and I see the little sandwich board with the arrow on the side of the road… I’m in.
I don’t care how many bedrooms, I want to see your bedding and what’s on your bedside table. I want to see your taste in furniture, your cushions and whether or not you have a media room or an outdoor kitchen. Show me your fire pit, let me see your DVD collection stacked in alphabetical order on one of those special wire stands you bought from IKEA in 2008.
Since landing a new place in the last year, I’ve had to reel-in the home open addiction. It was like ripping off a bandaid when I deleted my property apps on my phone. At some point you have to – it’s like continuing to look at wedding dresses after you’ve already put the deposit on your own… it’s time to stop looking.
While it’s been ages since I last got a quiet thrill from traipsing through a stranger’s home, the Judy in me has found newer ways to judge.
So, strictly speaking, I’m not really judging, that’s way too harsh.
It’s more of a perve.
A generous eyeballing, if you will.
These days I’ve only got time to duck into one or two sneaky home opens a month, so I fill the shortfall with regular tapping and swiping of real estate apps (OK, I didn’t delete them).
But it’s not just real estate that’s porny.
It wasn’t that long ago I couldn’t get enough of checking out other people’s wedding playlists on iTunes. I was doing exactly what I was doing in other people’s homes: except, instead of the hard squint at a CD collection during a house inspection, I was doing it at home in my jimjams, eating toast.
It didn’t help that earlier this year, John Legend had his wedding tracklist publicly available on Spotify and YouTube, after his wedding in March, which sent me over the edge with the insecure ‘I should’ve had that song. And that one. Why is Love Shack not on this list?’ inner-monologue.
Finding these private-but-public snippets were a hint, a tiny crack in the door to a stranger’s life… publicly posting your wedding playlist can take guts, especially if you’re going to (and they absolutely do) include your Footloose and Jessie’s Girl guilty pleasures. It’s like when you meet someone for the first time, you try to find some common ground to get what they’re about. That you could tell, just by their taste in music, if you were going to get along with them in real life. You know, the friends you just hadn’t met yet.
Then Instagram happened.
At the time, it was Pinterest that was really doing it for me. But now I find it’s not only a swampy behemoth to trawl through, it’s essentially a wish list of stuff you find around the interwebs, it’s not really the first place you think of to post your personal snaps.
With Instagram, I had found my new porn.
Waking up on a Sunday morning, I would grab my phone, a cup of tea and scroll. And scroll. Until I found exactly the thing that was going to do it for me… wedding hashtags.
I thought I was alone. It turns out I am not.
Writer Chiara Atik and a friend of hers got so addicted to her Sunday morning ritual of doing what I thought I only did, they started an e-newsletter, listing all the ‘official’ wedding hashtags from the weekend and delivering it to subscribers’ inboxes the following Monday. I mean, this was next level stuff.
Me? Well, while I subscribe to the e-newsletter, I prefer to hash-stalk a little more lone wolf-style, getting my quiet thrills from landing a hashtag that delivered a Christmas-size collection of wedding candour.
And this is what I love about a plugged-in wedding, they beckons to those who aren’t there to grab a glass of bubbly and come on in. Creating a hashtag lets everyone from your wedding (and hash-stalkers like me) revisit (or discover) the more unofficial side of the big day.
I mean, we’re all just friends that haven’t necessarily met just yet, right?