When people heard we were undertaking the ludicrous (only to us) task of looking for a house to purchase, they got extremely excited and offered advice and tips. Some of it was welcome, in that i understood it, and other advice i just couldn't get on board with. For example, many people shared their own experience of looking at "literally hundreds of houses." Still and forevermore in a state of PTSD from apartment-searching in NY, even though it was never, EVER close to being as horrible as it is for nearly every other inhabitant, I would respond in my mind, um.... that's not going to be happening. I'd rather burrow in and live inside a waste recess than look at a hundred houses. I think I could homey it up real nice.
Another thing people said was, "when you see it, you'll know it." As if it was this spiritual experience for them. Far be it from me to determine the legitimacy or importance of other people's personal habitational revelatory experiences, but I had a big feeling this way was not going to be the way of me. It was not going to be my particular path. I don't believe in having a spiritual connection to one's house as a precursor for buying it. It does not need to speak to me, I do not need to speak to it. Maybe I'm used to having to settle, in so many ways, foregoing several things for others, that certain factors (that don't really have any relevance here) take top priority, having been conditioned to jump and act stupidly fast, like a rat, even for what turns out to be the moldiest of cheese, but I did not see this being a necessity to me and my life, though it was difficult for me to see how it would be, at all.
Therefore, with all of those factors, combined with our general hesitance and my vague but pleasant and necessary denial, that is how we embarked on this journey. I do not need to bore you with details of how we came upon our domain, but i would say that we are happy with it. That i never got a good look at it until the deal was sealed, and that our experience is confirming my original theory: that you make a decision and make it work. And I feel satisfied, grateful, and even pleased.
It is a whole new world. Oftentimes a really boring new world and an easy trap to fall into, lifestyle-wise and conversationally, but for now, here are a few things we are learning:
Suddenly "dishwasher safe" has relevancy to my life. Standing in the aisles at Target, I was already overwhelmed by all the new house purchasing we'd already done and I was still in the midst of at the store, but none of it was anything like the dishwashing soap aisle. What...is... ANY of this?? I stood there staring, stunned, all things lain before me completely and 100% alien. I grabbed two random cleaning items and ran before I just crumbled and whimpered to Julian to choose something for me. Having a dishwasher at home is utterly bizarre. I didn't use it for several days at first, feeling afraid of it and completely fine with my old ways of doing dishes. I'd stare at it warily, feeling like a person out of time, unsure about this newfangled contraption.
Going along with my reluctance, I'd happily spend money on experiences rather than on mundane household items. For instance, although plane ticket prices are an abhorrence, I'll never regret the money spent on trips we've taken whereas I've a feeling I'll always rue the cash that went to that lawnmower. Blah.
Lawn maintenance has been on my list of dreams 0.0000 times. It's probably not on many people's. But I feel like, even with our "backyard" in brooklyn that was ours/wasn't ours, I was always thinking of how glad I was to not have to take care of a yard. That we'd just blissfully go out on Saturdays and explore and have adventures and not do Saturday chores. Maybe this is just indicative of my general laziness or disinclination toward adult responsibility. But mowing the lawn is as big of a drag as we'd feared. But maybe I'm growing up. Maybe there's something adult about experiencing something and saying, "Yup, that sucks just as I thought it would," and doing it anyway.
Suddenly I feel as if I'm made to care deeply about a million new things that I don't, in actuality, care about at all. This color or that. This knob or that. Texture or textile. What furnishing? Put it where? Oh, you've never once thought about this in your life? Well, how about now x a million? I don't care i don't care i don't caaaaaare. And it doesn't take long before my brain overloads and shuts down. I warned Sean I would need to take many breaks between house stuff, decisions, projects. He is a homemaker and builder and doer by nature. Go go go. But I have my limits and after a while my soul starts to wane. So, happy am I to live amongst boxes for a time and feel out where things ought to go. To just let nature take its course. Let the things decide where they want to be, eh? Who am I to say? They'll end up where they're meant to be, I just know it. And, we have the space for said boxes, so we all live in peace and happy harmony. Well, until we've been here two weeks and I still haven't found my boxes of pens. I'll tell you, i was fine with it, fine with it until i woke up one day and WAS NOT FINE. I NEED MY PENS. And we scoured all the boxes we could imagine them to be until we found them at long last, shoved in a box that was shoved inside a box. My beloveds. I rested a little easier after that.
I have taken some interest in some things we've done or collectively decided. Furnishings and whatnot here and there. But one item of decor that was solely and all my doing and which I am extremely proud of is this tabletop adornment. And when Sean saw it he fell in love too:
AND, and, when you light it (it's a candle) the eyes bleed! Neither Sean nor I can bear the thought of not having it as a permanent fixture so I may need to go out and get another.
And now, a confession. A ways back, I remember how admittedly repulsed I was when a friend was telling me about their new house purchase and they didn't know what to do with the basement so they went to Hobby Lobby and started buying things. Though I myself hope to never be in that position, (and if I'm going to be spendy, at least be deliberate about it) I do understand a bit more now. It's overwhelming. How do you begin to put a house together? And if you feel like you've gone from small --- > big, you have to justify that, right? You have to feel like you needed that space, right? You can't just bar it off or brick it up. I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it all. It's all very new to me. Anyway, let's move on.
It still doesn't quite feel like ours. Other than the loathsome mowing, we basically pretend the lawn isn't there because it's just too much for me right now. The other day on my way back from school, as a joke, i turned on the crusty hose and started to unravel it from the wheel to water my solitary and mostly dead tomato plant in a yellow pot. I knocked the wheel of hose over, the hose is so stiff and crackling that i'm pretty sure there are a million holes in it and though water first started coming out of the proper end, it ceased to do so after a minute. ?? Anyway, so that was fun. I won't be doing it again.
Interestingly, landscaping is something I do care a bit about and have interest in but have absolutely no understanding of. It's too much for me. Our lawn is an ugly blank slate and it would be an utter abomination to not put in trees, but what kind? where? how many? and what else? It's too much for me. So, my latest idea is, since we live on a somewhat high-traffic corner, to set out some kind of suggestion box and let the neighbors decide. They must be more horticultured than I so I will draw on their knowledge and experience. Maybe i'll sketch out a little map of the house and they can mark which things should go where? Hopefully we won't get any hate mail along with the suggestions but i wouldn't mind that either, because at least we'd know where we stand. So if you're around, please feel free to fill out a form.
Sometimes Sean and I would talk and try to figure out why it's such a huge deal to people, why it was such an exciting event for them and it didn't feel that way to us. He remarked that it must be for people what moving to NY was for us. It's their next big step into adulthood and ours was flying off and adventuring in a big city. He said, "So if they feel that same excitement I had whenever I'd fly back to NY, then I'm very happy for them."
Back to the house.
Having space, though, is a shocking and wildly new frontier for us. An undiscovered world, and one we are quite enjoying. Though I feel like we're playing house, sort of house-sitting, it is REMARKABLE to have room for us all. That there are several places to go herein. Kitchen, kitchen parlor, family room, Julian's bedroom, office. OFFICE?! Two sitting areas?? It struggles to make sense, but in, i have to say, a great way. I've often referred to NY as a war zone. This doesn't really help when i say it in the same breath as emotionally professing my deep and undying love for it to one trying to understand. But I say it anyway (and I acknowledge how very ignorant this may come off and do not mean to make a mockery of actual, real-life war-torn places and the people caught asunder). And if that's true, then I sort of feel like we are refugees experiencing a strange new sensation of freedom and luxury.* Having room to move and breathe has had a big effect psychologically. This is one of the reasons I feel it important to choose to make things work, and resist falling prey to any kind of outside pressure or comparison. Because I know another kind of living. Another FINE and awesome way but very different way to live. Having had one thing helps me to see and appreciate things about another, that's all. And I couldn't feel more content about the prospect of going into winter. More content than I've ever felt about it in my life, in fact. And that is really something.
So, we're easing into it. Meeting people and making friends is, i've learned, a big factor into our or at least my comfort level. I went to a book club at a new neighbor friend's house the other day and realized everyone there lived steps away from me. I turned to her and said, "I can't believe I'm hanging out with people that all literally live across the street from me." Suddenly a memory flashed to my mind of a night when we hosted Murder Monday, when we'd watch old scary movies (usually Hitchcock) with friends. One night, some friends married to each other wanted to both be there so they tried out a system of leaving one of their phones in the kids' bedroom as a baby monitor. We all giggled at this and waited to see if anything happened. Sure enough, as soon as they heard their daughter wake up and ask for her mom, the dad bolted out the door and ran the 5 blocks home while the mom stalled, talking on the phone, "shhh, just go to sleep. Don't come out. We'll be right there..." Ha ha! I don't really know why i'm telling you this other than it made us laugh so hard and it's just a strange world to be living in now, comparatively. Also, it's making me feel like we could EASILY skip out to a neighbor's at night with this new, even closer proximity situation.
As with all major changes in life, it takes some getting used to. There's also the aspect of imagining a thing and living it in real life. Accompanying fears and then the gradual dispelling of fears. Because no one wants to be afraid of a thing and then go to that thing. It's like when people would ask me while I was living in Brooklyn if I felt unsafe. I'd answer "No, because who wants to live like that?" You kind of have to decide. So that's what we're doing now. Trying our guts out to embrace the thing. So we may be reluctant but just give us time. It is a wild frontier indeed.
*Of course i only speak of the negative aspects, the eventual reasons we saluted goodbye. Living in a tiny space came to feel like living inside a pressure cooker, but we gave up a lot for what we have now. A LOT. And for a time, it was worth it all, and more. I've mentioned it feeling like a badge of honor and a privilege. I still hold to that.