One month into the wacky world of home ownership, one payment (officially, 359 to go) made, and where am I?
The obvious answer is "Right here," but that doesn't say much of anything. The night before the closing, I was wondering whether I was going to be suffering the pangs of buyer's remorse by now; certainly I had been asking myself, sometimes out loud, "What the hell am I doing?"
The numbers, of course, are all on the side of doing the deed. The house payment, admittedly, is $150 higher than I was paying for rent. The tax breaks will make up a great deal of the difference; more important, I'm accumulating some small but measurable amount of wealth here, which I certainly did not do as a tenant. (And I've pared some $45 a month from my regular expenses, to help cover the expected increase in utility bills; commuting costs have risen, but they were fairly minimal to begin with, and are still well within the realm of bearability.)
Numbers, though, are only numbers. The real question, I think, is "Do I belong here?" For me, this is not an idle query; for so long, I have felt so much the misfit, so completely out of step with the rest of the world, that the thought of being in the Wrong House is every bit as scary as being in love with the Wrong Woman. (I've done that too, but that's a story for some other time.)
Were I so inclined, I could point to a few minor irritations that came with this property: the back yard slopes off at an odd angle which complicates both mowing the lawn and storing the trash bins; the bathroom is somewhere between small and incredibly small; the switched power outlets are almost invariably not the outlets I would have preferred to have controlled by a switch. But what the hell. The perfect residence, like the perfect job or the perfect lover, exists only in theory, and this place is probably in better shape for its age (fifty-five) than I am for mine (fifty).
And last weekend, I was crawling in second gear (when it wasn't first gear) through the usual gridlock on May south of Grand, traffic which is both more complicated and less comprehensible than the stuff I was used to enduring on the east side. ("Comprehensible"? Yes, really. There are at least two points along the grid where the eastbound cross street and the westbound cross street have different names, though the intersection looks perfectly normal otherwise.) About the time I crossed 50th, I realized that I hadn't complained even once during the congestion. Evidently, I concluded, this is where I'm supposed to be.
I belong, dammit. I am home.
It's been a long, long time.
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Copyright © 2003 by Charles G. Hill