Home is Where the $ Is
My husband ducks every time he hears me say, “you know what we ought to do?” because he knows that “we” is the royal “we,” meaning, “you.” The man’s not stupid, unfortunately. After thirty years of marriage, I think he’s finally caught on…he no longer takes me with him when he picks up nuts, or bolts, or fertilizer (voluntarily, anyway), because I’ll want to look at bathroom vanities, or medicine cabinets, or countertops. We’ve lived in our house for sixteen years, and theoretically, it’s time to consider remodeling, or at a minimum, updating. All the experts say so. (You know, I quote experts all the time, but I’ve never actually met one. For all I know, they’re just part of a larger Propaganda Program designed to keep the masses in check, of which I am but one mass).
Last year, we replaced the oven because the door wouldn’t stay shut (which was problematic, even if I don’t cook) and just a couple days go, we installed a new dishwasher because the old one was making noises suspiciously like those encountered on the deck of an aircraft carrier. We’ve recently re-painted, re-carpeted, and re-roofed. But, up to now, every change we’ve made has been in the name of maintenance. What I’ve been battling against for the last decade or so is pressure from unseen (and no doubt, internal) forces to upgrade and improve the already more-than-adequate amenities in my home, just for the sake of upgrading and improving. And, being the self-aware savant that I am, I have finally asked myself the obvious: “What the #@$! for?”
There seems to be an unspoken competition in our society that pits the Haves against the Have-Nots against the I-Have-But-I-Want-Mores, and I sometimes find myself right in the middle of it, yearning for bigger and better. Why?
Because society tells me (and I may be the only one hearing voices) that I’m foolish, unless I look at my home and see a real estate investment. My mom and dad grew up during the Depression and WWII. Back then, owning your own house was considered part of the American Dream. It meant roots; always having a roof over your head, and a place to raise a family. They didn’t think twice about marking up the door jamb between the kitchen and living room with tick marks that provided a lasting record of how tall the children grew from year to year, because they were in it for life. It didn’t occur to them to worry about how much those tick marks might affect a resale. It was a memory-maker. It was their Home.
House ownership is hailed as one of those all-important financial steps one needs to take to provide wealth and security down the road. It’s an investment, the experts say. A tax break. As the single largest asset on our personal financial statement, it behooves us to use it wisely. According to that credo, we’ve got to worry about maintaining its market value. When we paint, the esoteric tastes of civilization as a whole must be taken into consideration. We can’t put up a carport because it won’t blend in with the landscape, and we can’t put a Slip ‘n Slide on the landscape because the grass’ll die. We’ve got to protect it, nurture it, and make it grow, so, when we sell it at the peak of the residential real estate market (which, if we are very wise—not to mention clairvoyant—we will), we can reap enough profit to put down on a bigger and better house, further enhancing our net worth. And, updating the kitchen or bath will help us do that, the experts say. In short, using our house as our home severely undercuts it’s potential to secure our financial future.
Plus, the bigger the house, the higher up on the social strata one appears to be, which, come to think of it, may just be at the root of it all. A house is a status symbol…it tells others who we are, and the bigger it is, the wiser, the more popular, and well-to-do we look. It tells the world that we are A Force To Be Reckoned With.
I’ve decided that enough is good enough. My house is my home. I’ll have to find something else to prop up my ego and self-esteem, not to mention elicit the envy and veneration of all.
But, to do that, I’ll need a bigger closet.