Thursday, January 26, 2012

This Old House

Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan--where I probably still belong
I have no business owning a house. Especially an old house. Everything about its upkeep irritates me, and I resent every penny spent on it (and that's been many a penny). Nothing interests me less than cleaning, unless perhaps it's gardening, so our property is pretty neglected both inside and out. Sometimes I picture trying to sell it, and the look of utter horror on the realtor's face as she takes the grand tour. Yes, the mammoth 40 year old air conditioner is still in the family room (we only turn it on when the temperature tops 90 degrees, because when we do it shakes the whole place and makes so much noise we have to shout to be heard). Yes, we still have only one (scary-looking) electrical outlet in the dining room, have never replaced our drafty windows, and we have been planning to refinish the living room floor since 1993. And yes, we're still living with tiny closets better suited for Tom Thumb's wardrobe. Our ideal buyer would arrive with a sledgehammer and just start from scratch.

Part of the problem, granted, is our ridiculously tight budget, but that's not all of it. I just really don't enjoy home ownership. My early years were spent in a New York City apartment, and as I recall it was heaven. Nothing to maintain, one quick phone call would get anything broken repaired. Best of all, when it was time to move, we could just close up shop and walk away. As I grew older, we began relocating frequently, living in three houses (New York, Massachusetts and Georgia). My parents were truly dreadful homeowners, like me, but we never lived in one place long enough to do much damage.  Our happiest times were spent in recently built apartment complexes, where you could even call someone to come change the lightbulbs (Mom actually did that). Atlanta was especially great because EVERYTHING there was new—new expressways, new mega-malls, new office buildings.

My dislike of old things is at the heart of it, probably. I see no value in antiques or vintage clothing, and while I appreciate what occurred at historic sites back in the day, I’d enjoy them more if they were, you know, less dusty.

So here I am, saddled with a house of a certain age. A house that, slowly but surely, is falling down all around me. A house that, now that I think of it, is a mirror image of myself—getting old, poorly maintained. Soon it will be AARP and senior discount day at the grocery store for me, and I hate the thought. When I’m in shiny new spaces of stainless steel and glass, I can forget for awhile that I carry quite so much history inside me. I can wipe the slate clean and start again.

This Old House
I’ll keep yearning for that sleek high-rise (and that sleek young Elise), but for now this old house is my home. Time to start taking care of us both.


  1. I hear mom in your story-big time. She hated homeownership. Trade-off's you never get to stamp your personality into an apartment. Grass is often greener on the other side. I miss having my house in Atlanta.

  2. Alas, C, I fear I HAVE stamped my personality into this house:)