Sunday, August 1, 2010

The joys of homeownership

I had a dream. It was my desire to one day own a home that I could really call my own. Put my mark on it and make it an extension of myself. I thought I had that once before. When I was married, my ex-husband and I built a home and I spent hours upon hours turning that home into an extension of who I was. Who we were. I scoured antique stores, auctions and the like and complied a collection of "things" that told the story of who we were. I loved that house.

When my husband announced unceremoniously that the marriage was over, I was devastated. But over the course of the next 6 months, I came to realize, that while I was mourning the loss of my marriage, I may have been mourning the loss of my home a little more. I started to remember being a little kid and having a childhood that really afforded me anything I ever wanted in terms of material things. We had a big pool. We had trips to Disney every year. We had Christmas mornings that started and ended with an obstacle course over and around gifts. But for every happy memory, I had an equally unhappy one. My parents had a volatile  relationship. My father had a volatile relationship with just about everyone. And after he died, my mother thought she could make it all better by giving us things when all I really wanted that happy part of my life back.

So when I married and was able to own a home of my own, I went about turning it into a place that felt safe, secure and happy. Even when it wasn't. I think maybe that's why I was so blindsided by the news that my marriage was over. I had planned this all out the right way, hadn't I? I had a light and airy home. I chose each piece so carefully; a reflection of the things I found joy in. He seemed to love it too. In fact, he did because when it came to splitting the "stuff" up, he showed much of the attachment to those "things" as I had when I bought them.

I learned a valuable life lesson from that experience. I don't need things. I need a roof over my head and a good life. I have a handful of pieces that I have carried with me since then that will stay with me until I'm dead and gone. Even when I moved into this tiny little place, I knew exactly what I could let go of and what needed to stay. And the things on the stay list are small. I have an original Rea Redifer painting that was given to me  by Rea. I have 2 pieces of furniture that no one in their right minds would have bought but I did and handed them over to my neighbor Jim Donohue, who saw their potential and turned them into family heirloom pieces. Both Rea and Jim are gone now but I still have a piece of them with me and that's what is really important.

When I first walked into this little place I now call my own, I saw potential. Now, I'm not gonna lie. I saw a mortgage payment smaller than my rent payment and a $6500 tax credit too. But I saw a place that, while tiny and old, could maybe tell my story again. That is, once I patch the hole in the foundation and tear out the  kitchen.