Friday, June 07, 2013
The $imple Joy$ of $uburban Home Owner$hip
I wrote this in 2007. Check out my 2013 update below.
Ah, home ownership. The American dream.
After about 40 trips this morning up and down a ladder to fix a problem on my roof, I'm exhausted. I'm 59 years and 10 months old (that's almost 60, for you mathematically impaired types out there). I'm too freakin old to be going up and down a ladder.
I should pay a guy but he'd charge me about $100 to do what I can do with some labor and some equipment. So up the ladder I go. Down the ladder I go.
All my life I was taught, by my parents, by my friends and coworkers, "Owning a home is really important. You have a sense of pride in ownership.”
Oh yeah? Take a look at the yellow patches in my lawn…take a look at some overgrown shrubs or some weeds in the backyard. The weeds are so damn tall I could camouflage a Humvee back there. Who’s responsible? Well, me, of course.
What happens when the toilet clogs or breaks? What happens when the stove or refrigerator goes out? Who has to buy new carpet, new mini-blinds? Who gets to worry about cracks in the driveway turning into chasms that will eat a tire next winter unless some needed repairs are done? You guessed it.
And as for “owning”a home, that's the biggest laugh of all. Laugh, laugh, I thought I'd die…sang the Beau Brummells. And I’m laughing.
Who really owns your home? After 32 years of living in my palatial estate I have paid off mortgages one and two…but still owe on mortgage number three. That's another five years of paying, and who knows what Ill need then. (All this being conditional on me living through all of these trips up and down that ladder.) So the bank has interest in my house. Then when I get the mortgage paid off, get the deed back in my hands, then who really owns the house? Not me. The county really owns the house. Just see what happens if I neglect to pay my property taxes.
The simple joys of home ownership. What a crock.
That “problem on my roof,” referred to above, is my evaporative air conditioner (also called a swamp cooler), which needs more tender loving care than I can give. I have been vetoed by my wife on having a new furnace and a/c installed because they are yet more expen$e, but really...when it comes to wear and tear on my aging body, what are a few buck$?
Since 2007 I have aged to where I am now nearly 66, but in dog years much, much older. I have a bad knee, my stamina is none too good, and in the back of my mind is Harriett’s story. Harriett was a secretary for the school district where I also worked. At the time, 1979, she and her husband were about 55, and working toward retirement. Husband John went on the roof for the same reason I go on the roof, to keep the primitive air conditioner working. He fell off the ladder and shattered an ankle. It was while he was recuperating in the hospital that the injury caused a blood clot in his leg, which traveled to his heart and killed him. I asked my wife, “Do you want me to die like John?” You know what she said in response?
“Don’t fall off the ladder.”
Actually, that conversation is imaginary. It never took place except here in this blog. I’ve never said anything like that to her; it would scare her needlessly. I haven’t fallen off the ladder yet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
It is also that if I live long enough, sooner than I expect I will be 70, then 75...way too old to be climbing ladders to the roof.
Oh yeah, and the final update is that on March 1, 2013, we have been in this house 38 years. Like me, the house is aging, and not showing its age any better than I’m showing mine.
Mortgage three was paid off in 2008, by the way, and I have been mortgage-free since.