Monday, August 10, 2009

Acceptance...sort of

The other day I was looking at this gorgeous house. It was my ideal sort of house: sort of large and rambly, older but fully restored with the same character and time period architecture, a flowy floor plan but with a fair amount of openness, and lovely furnishings...just nice enough to be nice but not at all out of a catalog or showroom. Homey. Classy. Clean. Lovely.

All of the sudden, with a hitch to my stomach, I thought, "I am just never, ever going to have a house like this."

For a second, I mourned.

I am never going to have a house like that because my husband is an architect and I am a writer, and we will likely never make That Amount of Money necessary.

I am never going to have a house like that because my husband is an architect in the same way a doctor is a doctor and a plumber is a plumber: they do grand work for everyone except themselves.

I am never going to have a house like that because I am Decoration and Flair challenged. I even once took a couple of courses at a junior college and a weekend seminar from a furniture design place to try to get some basic skills. However, I stand before you Not Like That At All, you know, all Good At Decorating. Mostly I find stuff a big fat bother that needs cleaning and so forth and I don't like it.

I am similarly DIY challenged. I'm not motivated nor do I have the drive or skill.

For these last two points, I can do it, if I put my mind to it, but mostly, to be honest, I don't.

I am never going to have a house like that because our children are just like us, only maybe a little bit worse. We all live much, much more in our heads and in the ether out there somewhere than in our actual home. I think I am the most homey and I say that knowing full well it is a pathetic statement.

I have a million things I'd rather do than tend my home. I'd rather read a book, take a nap, go for a drive, explore a trail, try a new restaurant, talk to a friend, write anything, volunteer, help a cause....

I am never going to have a house like that because I am who I am and I have chosen my life as I have.

As things stand, I either do it myself or find a new level of income and pay someone.

Except, if I earn more money I'd rather take a trip with my family. I'd rather send my kids to music lessons. I'd rather pay for private school. I'd rather take a class.

I have a million things I -- if I'm honest -- would spend money on than tend my home. If I'm honest, we could -- if our house were a bigger priority -- have saved money to do things for it. Instead, we've spent that money elsewhere, which I think says a lot about our priorities.

We haven't been terribly good, truth be told, accepting this with grace and alacrity. That's because in our area, homes are the priority. We've gotten that message loud and clear our entire lives. We hear it now as people we know renovate, remodel, redecorate and otherwise make their homes very nice.

"Oh we ought to see about doing that," we say to one another, half-heartedly, in that "oh someday we ought to weed the garden" tone of voice. You know the one, the "yeah, it's a should but not ever likely to be a will" tone.

We're always slightly apologetic and occasionally mildly fretful about the state of our home. I do think both of us wish we could do better by it. Sometimes, we'll get aggravated or chastened enough and we'll start saving or making a plan, which we always end up abandoning because something else comes along.

When we recently took a trip, we stayed in a Small House. This is a whole movement, the Small House movement. It's about being green, and lowering our carbon suckage. I liked how do-able that house felt. I have not felt do-able about a house since we lived in a one bedroom apartment, actually.

"I wish we had this house," I said. The family agreed.

That means we want about 800 square feet on a lot of land, with two bedrooms, a loft, one bathroom, and an open kitchen-living-family space. Like a cabin. Little House in the Hill Country.

It could be the inexpensive do-able home base that we returned to from every other place we'd rather be and all the other things we'd rather be doing.

Or not -- maybe we don't really want that. Maybe it just seemed perfect for our vacation.

Mostly, I'd like that grace, that acceptance of this is who we are and this is what we have and we're good with that. We need new floors, if you measure by fancy Jones standards, and new windows. Our cabinets could use freshening.

Instead, my husband is having a holiday with the kids while I go to a conference.

At my age, it seems as if you must let go one by one (or in batches) of things you dreamed of or thought of when you were younger. Many of those things are surprisingly easy to let go of.

With time I expect the rest of these will float away too.


Mamma said...

So some day I won't mind my house? I so don't have the gene to be able to make it homey. I wish I did, but I don't know if I'm ready to give up that dream.

I think if I got rid of a lot of extraneous stuff it would feel better.

Tracee said...

I heart my house. It's my ginormous living room I truly love. the rest is normal sized. It's not the neighborhood where the Joneses live. So there's no pressure to live up to anyone.

Except of course my mother's voice in my head. She's a perfectionist task master.

Anonymous said...

then you'd love my house, where we cram five people into 1700 square feet.

but, this is not a post about houses, really. it is about coming to terms with who we are. the endless possibility that seemed to be there half a decade ago has somehow evaporated. And most days, we're all OK with that -- happy with the trade off. But, every now and then, we get wistful for those heady days of potential.

Lady M said...

Our living room has nothing but a piano in it (well, and about a hundred toys scattered on the floor). We've been here for a year and a half, and I just can't get motivated to decorate, or even buy furniture. I tell myself that the kids have so much fun in the room as a gymnasium . . . but really, I am lacking the decorator gene.

I recognize so many of the thoughts that you wrote.

alejna said...

This was really wonderful. I love that you have learned and accepted these things about yourself.

I'm also in your camp about Home Decor. I can't be bothered, and would rather spend my time doing other things. I had a brief spurt of activity and interest when we bough the house (10 years ago!), but since then, we only tend to deal with things when they reach a crisis level and must be fixed.

Anonymous said...

I'll just say, "Me, too!" and leave it at that. I have half-hearted decor attempts all over the house.

flutter said...

my family had five people in a 900 sq ft house. It was tiny...and I miss it.

Anonymous said...

We have a timeshare every other year in Fairmont Hot Springs in B.C. Same kind of layout you described except it has two bathrooms. I am too spoiled to downgrade to just one. I remarked that I could see us living in a small home like that minus the golf course which made walking a bit tricky.

When I was young though I dreamed of owning one of the grand old homes on the bluffs in my hometown. Fixing it up and everything. But I have no instinct for that kind of nesting or feathering. And it's okay.

Magpie said...

I love my house. I don't love my living room furniture, but it was free, and it's growing on me, the Palm Beach chintz sofa and the leopard print velveteen chair. Growing on me = Acceptance.

Karen said...

This is just the type of conversation I've been having with myself recently - not specifically about a house - but about dreams, ideas and the future. I turn 35 this year, so I guess the timing is right on the money, huh?