On December 22, 2008, I purchased my first home. A long, lean five-room condo just outside Manhattan. As it was more than 100 years old, I recall clearly the way it captured my heart the first time I saw it with its uneven, wide-plank pine floors, its stately trim and its creaky, 9-foot high original pocket doors.
I remember pulling those doors shut for the first time and falling HARD for their squeaky, heavy splendor. I imagined the beautiful chandelier I’d hang in my bedroom so that I’d see it twinkling through those doors every night I came home. For my modest wallet at that time, those doors were the closest I’d get to my dream New York brownstone.
But just a month earlier, I was attacked in Rome. And my life flipped over on itself; it turned inside out. All the saving I had done, the prudence I had exercised in my purchases, was for naught because suddenly I was staring down unknown legal fees in a potentially protracted court case after having just placed my life’s savings in 650 square feet of home. The day I closed on it, I felt numb. The joy I should have possessed was impossible to find; worry had already sank its claws in deep and sure.
In many ways, and how I truly feel, this was a marriage gone wrong almost as soon as we said “I do.” I am not trying to make light of marriage by any means. But a home purchase is one in so many ways, especially when you are single. I fell in love. I made a committment at risk to my future and I intertwined my finances for what I hoped would be stability, roots and great memories to make. I gave it my name. And none of that was enough. From the minute I signed the mortgage papers, I had a pit in my stomach which only grew every day thereafter and for good reason.
I will spare you the horrors of home ownership, condo boards, a batshit crazy neighbor and her low-class daughter, corrupt – and I mean CORRUPT and ARRESTED – town officials, and what aggressive squirrels will do inside your walls especially when they feel frisky. But I will tell you this: I gave it every last effort I had to love it and make it love me back. But it just never did. And still, I treated it like gold. I Swiffered the floors several times per day, I built bookshelves, restored woodwork, put in crown molding…
I re-did the kitchen…
And when no amount of dinners with friends to create good memories, lazy glasses of wine by candlelight or whimsical decorations could fix my feelings … when I had finally had enough of its “issues”… I packed up and moved out-of-state to clear my head. Of course, my court case and all the awful shit that goes with it shares the blame, but such was my mindset that not a day I entered the doorway was I without worry. It was like Pavlov’s dog where my stomach would instantly drop upon entering my living room. And that was such a shame because she was beautiful and fine. So, I rented it out and finally, this past winter, I decided to unshackle my great burden.
I am fortunate for the friends and family that I have. They took the journey with me and their fingerprints are all over that house. And the memories are mine for safekeeping. They helped me paint its walls, assemble shelves, hang artwork, and carry through its doors each new piece of grownup furniture I had purchased. So, I am grateful for that and the growth I experienced as an owner. But it was time to say goodbye and admit defeat on this one. Ugh, it’s such a bitter pill to swallow. Part of me will always love it or maybe just the idea of it. And part of me knows that something better awaits me – a better fit for who I am now – that will love me back. See? Just like marriage, my future home is out there; I just need to go find it.