Apropos of Nothing: Home Ownership at its Best
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
It has been said that a home is a place where one hangs a hat. It can also act as a landing pad for offspring who fail to launch.
It’s been said, the highest use of a house is as a home. That’s entirely true, too. There is nothing so comforting, so soothing to the human soul as a home. A place where pies can be left to cool in the kitchen, the big game plays on a television screen that rivals the local theater’s in size, and where family can gather at the holidays to share memories while making new ones.
Mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm. That sounds like Norman Rockwell’s America, doesn’t it?
It’s also been said, a house is nothing but a money pit you throw endless streams of cash at until the stress of keeping the lights on, the rain out, and the air-conditioner running finally kills you. That’s true, too.
You can see the conundrum, can’t you?
It was slightly more than 23 ago when my wife and I took the plunge, transitioning from the renter stage of life to the owner stage. Which is to say, we tired of paying several hundred dollars a month for a place to live with almost no risk of total financial collapse.
So, we bought a home, which involved taking out a loan that exceeded our combined annual income. The down payment alone nearly killed me. This loan was also at an interest rate that made us tremble in fear. The upshot of all this meant that for the next 30 years we were indebted to a large financial institution that had free reign to push our buttons any old time they wanted to. And they did. Believe me, they did.
Our mortgage was sold so often in the first two years that I began to lose track of who I was supposed to send the payments to. Thankfully, the bank was kind enough to mail us an endless stream of reminders disguised as everything from life insurance, to car loans, to student loans, to home improvement loans, to more and better life insurance, and of course the biannual special offer to refinance our house any old time we got the urge.
Thankfully, my wife and I decided early on to buckle down, make additional premium payments, and rid ourselves of that anchor of a mortgage as quickly as humanly possible. Making that decision was easy. We were in total agreement. The math was undeniable. It was the only way to go.
Actually making those extra payments was something else entirely. You see, shortly after we bit the bullet and bought our home, we were assaulted in the most horrendous way you can imagine when two small people moved into our home. They demanded almost constant attention. They never picked up the check in a restaurant. They often screamed late into the night, raising a horrible racket that even our neighbors took notice of.
It was an embarrassing situation that went on for an interminable amount of time. Thankfully, they grew up, graduated high school or something, and moved out of our house to live independently and do whatever the heck they wanted whenever they wanted to do it. My wife and I rejoiced. Finally, peace and quiet, and a lower cost of living was at hand.
Two months later they moved back in. Apparently, as their parents we’re supposed to be excited about this. Joyful, even. That’s the standard line parents give in any case. Me? I’m a bit out of step with the norm. Again. As usual.
The solution to all this mayhem was as obvious as it was painful. My wife and I, now on the cusp of our golden years, were forced to undertake the arduous process of shopping for, selecting, and purchasing another home. For even more money in the form of a whopping big mortgage that would have given us a stroke the first time around. Now, being older and wiser, it just makes our fingertips tingle and leaves us feeling lightheaded and slightly nauseous.
My realtor tells me that’s a normal reaction to our current situation.
So, we bought a house. A bigger house. A much bigger house. A much more expensive house to buy. A much more expensive house to insure, and light, and air-condition. You don’t even want to know about the tax bill.
All this to get away from the short people who initially made our fun-loving, youthful foray into home ownership so excruciatingly painful in the first place.
And what did those youngsters do when we announced that we’d be moving to a new home in another part of town?
They moved in with us.
Help me. Please. I now own two houses, not even three miles apart, in the same town — and my kids have taken up residence in both of them.
Can’t an old guy with a bad attitude catch a break?