Monday, June 14, 2004

It Ain't a House, It's a Little More of a Home

This week the newsletter asks the question, "What in hell is that big ball of bright light up in the sky that peeked out on Saturday?" Because if nothing else, this spring's unrelenting stormy weather has proven that it not only has been raining a lot recently in my soul, but it's raining just about everywhere else within spitting distance. So thank God there's shelter.

I was 32 years old when I bought my first house. I'm not sure this was a good age to buy a house. I don't know if it is an average age to buy a house. I don't even know if it was a wise age to buy a house. All I know is that after years of apartment dwelling, I had had enough with noisy neighbors, quirky landlords, and throwing rent check after rent check away into the wind.

My house is a modest house and deliberately so. I don't want to call attention to it, both for security reasons and because quite frankly I don't know nothing about home repair, or home renovation, and I don't really need to call any more attention to all the things I don't know.

I think I frustrated my realtor during my search for a home. (Am I the only person in history who has never gotten a holiday card from his realtor? Isn't that mandatory per the job description?) We looked at place after place but nothing matched the vision I had in my head. I of course couldn't communicate that place in my head (it's been a life long affliction) because I'm still not sure what home really is. What eventually did appeal to me about the structure I ended up buying was its "potential."

The basement was unfinished and I could picture it one day holding a family room where the kids (little Placido and Thurogood) could play floor hockey like my brother and I used to do in my parents' house dinging up the walls and ceiling after an especially impressive stick handling maneuver leading to a goal or crunching body check.

The backyard was big enough to hold a batting cage or gazebo or maybe both though you can't have it all because where would you possibly store it?

Most importantly the attic was big though unfinished, and in the end that was the determining factor in me making an offer on the house (well that and the Como Park location). I pictured myself, home improvement book open in front of my Kubo nose, hammer in hand, teaching myself how to sheet rock. A couple of years later a friend was all set to move in, and the plan was to make the upstairs attic a nice little room for her. But she walked away in silence and the loan I took out went towards easing my ensuing depressed unemployment.

Eight years later things (of course) just don't feel right and there is a sense of growing urgency in the wanderlust that has forever existed in my heart. This is the longest I've lived in one place other than my parents' house. So this spring I finally got serious and began looking into finally doing something with the attic. Getting bids, lining up financing, deterrents in the past, were an obstacle overcome this time around. Looking at potential floor plans has actually been kind of fun. One might argue that a diabetic can't cure his disease with a new hypo, or that you wouldn't throw a starving man a piece of gum but I think adding a new wing to the house might feel at least a little bit rejuvenating.

Construction work begins in a few weeks and I dearly hope it passes quickly. I met my contractor at Home Depot the other night to pick out things like carpet, paint, doorknobs, towel racks and the like. I must say I almost wanted to in all cases go with the cheapest choice possible but part of me constantly reminded myself that this is an investment and though it may not seem like it now my decisions may pay off whenever I leave this house. I hope the time passes quickly though, the cats I share the house with may need therapy if the soon to be ordinary out of the blue commotion gets too severe.

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