Home ownership hasn’t always been what it’s cracked up to be. Of course, it’s the goal. The be-all and end-all for new couples and even for singles looking for a solid investment. As we’ve all said before, paying rent, month after month, can feel like you’re throwing your hard earned cash out the window. But then something breaks. Or a lot of things break. And it doesn’t happen in threes. It happens in fucking tens, people … at least in our house. It was built the same year I was born, I believe, so it’s basically a fossil.
To be perfectly candid, I’ve always kind of complained about it. I don’t know what I expected in the San Diego market, less than a mile from the beach. I know we are lucky to have a house at all! But yet I found myself complaining over the old plumbing. The dated Brady Bunch style. The small bedrooms. The nearly unbearable kitchen.
Just after the New Year, we had a pipe burst under our house. Knowing nothing about this sort of thing, I felt a warm spot under the floor right by the dishwasher. I assumed it was something to do with the hot water from the dishwasher, choosing to ignore the fact that it hadn’t happened before. It felt damn good, as we have cold tile floors. And, yes, it does get cold here! My husband sort of reveled in it for a moment too, the two of us huddled together by the dishwasher, sipping coffee. But then we noticed another hot spot. And another. And another.
My husband called the plumber, and he knew almost instantaneously what it was. He basically said, “Sir, you are shit out of luck,” but in plumbing language. We knew we were in for it. We went through insurance, of course, but it was still sickly expensive. And inconvenient. And annoying. I’m not one who deals well with these types of things. We had to move out for a few days and stay in a motel, shlepping everyone back and forth to school and our home. I knew there were FAR worse things, but I was still getting majorly down in the dumps about it.
About two weeks into this mess, a tree in our backyard fell into the fence behind us, destroying the fence we share with a neighbor. I tried to take solace in the fact that no one was hurt but, shit, I’m a glass half empty person over here … usually because it’s filled with wine. And I like wine.
Here we are, a couple of months out, and we still have some major damage to fix. And the fence is still propped up. And the back of our house has a giant mismatched piece of stucco where they went in to fix the leak. And one of our toilets plugs one out of two times someone goes to the bathroom. When you buy a fixer-upper, you really kind of need the cashola to do the fixing-upping, ya know? And, right now, we really don’t have that. I look at friends who live in other areas of the U.S. and find myself ogling their giant, gorgeous, turn-key homes in more affordable parts of the country. And I get sad.
Lately, though, I’ve come to feel a bit guilty about this. I’ve begun to look at my house so differently, and I’m not sure why. Spring has sprung here, and the back yard is a rainbow of beautiful flowers — some that my husband has planted, and some that were here before we moved in. It’s truly stunning. The boys frolic outside, each and every day. They’ve never known a life where you can’t just push the back door open and play.
My favorite thing to do is to sit outside with a glass of wine at sunset and watch them play. And explore. And giggle. It’s a pretty kick ass yard for kids this age. And they have a playhouse. And the grass is mostly green. I wander in through our French doors and take in the warm air and the smells of the season. I admire our relatively newly done kitchen. I walk through the house and admire the bunk beds that my sons sleep in every night, with five million stuffed animals to keep them company. I pass through our bedroom, which is still piled high with shoes that haven’t been put back in our closets yet, as the carpet still needs to be delivered. And I don’t know why, but I suddenly feel strongly for this, our starter house. It’s a house our boys will always remember with love and affection. Knees have been skinned. Playdates have happened en masse. Birthday parties have been thrown. And milestones have been passed, time and time again. Santa and The Tooth Fairy have already visited several times.
It’s a house that holds hope. While I don’t think we will stay here forever, I feel the need to show it the respect it deserves. I love you, this old house. I love you for paving the way for a lifetime filled with tons of promise, endless mystery, and meaningful hugs.