After our aborted attempt to buy a house back in 2009, Dollface and I settled very comfortably back into enjoying our fabulous apartment. Spacious, stylish, comfortable and centrally located in one of the coolest sections of Portland, there was very little not to love about the place. However, after several years of rent increases, I was becoming increasingly aware that renting builds no equity and is essentially throwing money away. Additionally we were fed up with having a landlord and upstairs/downstairs neighbors to consider. It was time to start searching again.
Turns out that on our first and only day of touring various available houses, after about ten unsuitable locations we happened to find a house that felt about as close to perfect as we were going to get. To make a long story short, in a whirlwind 2 months we negotiated, inspected, repaired, bought the place, painted and moved in. It's now six weeks later and, having finally resolved all the top home-making priorities and settled in, I feel I can now break my blogging and social media silence to reflect on the whole experience.
Most of that reflection has been about aging, or more specifically, my present self regarding my younger self, wondering how young Adam would regard where older Adam is today, house and all. To that end I've had on my mind an untitled poem that I wrote about 16 or 17 years ago while broke and unfettered in New York City:
young Siddhartha wants not a thing
wants as in lacks
lacks as in needs
the deciduous trees in the park on fourteenth
(don't ask me specifically, I don't know the breed)
seem not to breathe so much as wheeze
with all the convulsions that herald the spring
the lion's, the lamb's and the fates' schitzing breeze
had always been wont to ignore what they please
"No matter," the prophets predicted with ease,
"no matter the gray or the centigrade freeze,
the road to enlightenment's paved with these trees."
elated by chance
the loose women sprawled in a somatic dance
'cross the bed and the chairs and the couch and the floor
are reborn in the spring – perhaps nearer the door
than I'll ever be
aloft in a tree
chased down by cops
and a jerk-off destiny
Loosely, the poem is about a youth surrounded by excess and pleasure, cognizant that greater wisdom and purpose exist but doubtful whether he'll ever find it himself. In retrospect, however, I see a kid who wasn't interested in a career or marriage or a house and mortgage, much less ever leaving NYC. The writer of that poem wasn't crushed by a lack of purpose, but rather passively amused by it.
Then, surprisingly quickly, 17 years go by. At some point you meet a girl you really like and suddenly you're together for 14 years. At some point you move to Portland and before you know it 5 years have passed. Where the fuck does the time go? But more importantly, are you where you want to be?
Which brings me back to the house. I never wanted a house. I do not enjoy the do-it-yourself lifestyle of home ownership. I do not want to mow a lawn. I do not want to be concerned with upkeep for the furnace, the roof, the siding, etc. That thing where you take pride that the place you live is "yours"? I don't have that. Instead I have greater concern for security, income, maintenance... When our friends are over and hanging out, our place is still a fun party zone, but by myself I have yet to find real enjoyment here. Some satisfaction, sure, but as of this writing I do not "enjoy" this house.
I am, however, no longer throwing money away on rent. So there's that at least: equity.
But what is the real value of all this equity?
Well, mostly I want Dollface to be financially secure in her old age. Some savings, a 401k plan, a house... these things will hopefully insure that she can remain in the style of living with which she's familiar and that she deserves.
Me? Well, that's the irony. I still don't really live for the future. I don't happily look forward to retirement or old age. I'm focused on writing songs, booking gigs, collecting Transformers, getting drunk, etc. But how will feel in another 17 years, looking back at the Adam of today? I really have no idea.
I realize that this is probably not the "I bought a house" blog post you expected. Most everyone I meet, when I mention having just bought a home, gush with congratulations. I have come to realize that for many people it is one of life's great landmark achievements on par with having a child, getting married, retiring, dying, etc. I don't feel that. To me, this is just a much more complicated version of renting and most pros ("I can install a skylight if I want") are offset by cons ("I have to mow the motherfucking lawn again"). I realize that I am a very lucky man, and I want you to know that I am completely aware of that... but until I actually start taking pride in my house, it feels like being congratulated on a great haircut. Yes, it's mine, but I didn't really do anything to earn it other than pay someone else to do it. Maybe one day I will have the same pride in this house that I do my songs or this website.
I really have no idea.
I couldn't finish this post without mentioning that we couldn't have gotten through the whole house-buying thing without our friends, who helped us with packing, moving, and various projects around the house that we could not have accomplished on our own. As has always been the case in my life, our friends are what is really most valuable.
There is, at least, one fun project I see for myself. There's a bathroom and shower in the basement. I'm going to paint the walls red and put up various bawdy and infernal pictures, like an NYC dive bar bathroom. If you have to choose which bathroom in our house to do some blow and fuck a hooker, it will definitely be this one. Hey, after all, this house is mine, I can do what I want with it!