I sold my house. It was a modest old farm in the countryside (especially Massachusetts), and I moved here from Manhattan seven years ago, after my divorce. Now I am moving back New York Citywhere I have lived for 37 years, and I’m so excited. I would love to have a home of my own, but what I want to say here are things I won’t miss out on for a minute.
1. Waiting for the guy
Where I live, rich people have caregivers looking for electricians, plumbers, furnace maintainers, carpenters, house painters – all the skilled craftsmen you need to help with your home care and property. Caregivers receive estimates, making sure they are at home when workers arrive and oversee work. It’s great to be a rich person. In the next incarnation, I hope to be one of them.
The rest of us here are our own caregivers. And what a job it is. I used to be a writer; now i am the person who takes care of the party writing
It took me all day looking for a house painter, or someone to re-install a peeling bathroom wall. Hours of phone calls from person to person, hours of phone calls to people lining up with me at the post office to ask if they could introduce someone out of the hornet’s hive under a large grown eaves. basketball or not. I went out, like a stalker, at a coffee shop, sweeping the parking lot, waiting for a truck that said “Electrician”, so I could rush into the driver as he walked through the door .
These men – I say “men” because that describes most home maintenance people where I live – are extremely hard to find, since most of the good guys are already rich people. You can’t blame the workers – the wealthy have bigger houses and they always do things like add media rooms or stables, so working for them tends to be a constant proposition. .
Here’s how the local workers need it: I have a friend who won’t tell me her worker’s name because she’s afraid he’s too busy at my house to come see her. If she needs a maid, I’ll give her my name if I have it, this guy won’t. But I understand her reluctance, I really do.
When I finally find someone who will help me with anything, I have to arrange my date so that I will be there when he gets there while he works and be there to pay him when he’s done.
For days I spent one ear, waiting for this guy or the other to show up and then sitting at the desk with the furnace mechanics at my feet or the chainsaw outside the window or the pounding hammer on top head.
I don’t want to be ungrateful; I owe it to all the men who help me. Oleg, the house painter, cleaned the clogged gutter, I was too afraid to build a tall ladder to get up; Chuck, my plumber, fingertips cracked after decades of cold outdoor work, arrives on cold mornings when there is no hot water. And Jim and Carter and Keith and Keith and Gonzalo other and so many others – they all saved my house from dereliction, saved my hideout.
I think they’ll understand if I tell them how emotional it is to not need them anymore. I can’t wait to have a super to call. Let him find the guy to replace cracked windows. Let him wait for the tile guy to show up.
2. Device repair never ends
Owning a home means owning a lot of gadgets and machines, which means buying them to repair and replace them. For example, my lawn mower has had to go to the store for repairs twice in the year since I bought it. Twice!
I don’t care if I never own anything again. It sounds hasty, I know, but I mean it.
Where I live, just visit when the repair guy arrives and diagnose the problem with your refrigerator or washing machine that costs around $ 80. Sometimes the problem is that you need a new gasket, which means another visit and another, say, 100 dollars. But nine times out of 10, the problem is you need a new refrigerator or washing machine.
I hate that the devices only last 5 years or so now – if you’re lucky! – and I’m furious every time I have to buy a new one.
My new apartment doesn’t have a washing machine or dryer. Goody. I am very happy to use the laundry room in the basement. Homeowners will have to buy new ones when they break down, they’ll have to buy and sooner than what they should do. I know – I would have to pay a quarterly money to use the machine in the laundry room, which would ultimately be the same as the price of a washer and dryer. But I do not care.
Aside from being willing to waste quarters in the laundry room in the coming years, I feel rich just thinking of the money I won’t spend. Of course, the landlord’s insurance and property taxes and heat (oil heats my oven and costs me at least $ 500 a month during the winter). But, more painful, endless surprises surround me every year.
I’ve lost six trees in the past two years before ever more intense, ever more intense storms that we now have in New England (thank you, climate change!) Lots of trees I currently have. Payment plan with his tree felling company. I pay 300 dollars a month and I will pay it off by year… 2024.
It took me two years to pay off $ 17,000 for my septic system. And when my furnace stopped working on the coldest day of the year, insurance only paid one-third of the $ 13,000 to the mechanics who installed new pipes to replace the broken ones. Last summer, I painted one side of the house. It costs $ 3,000. My intention was to paint the remaining three sides, but I couldn’t splash the $ 12,000.
I can go on – the radiators started chirping and had to be replaced; The water tank has been replaced; The old oil tank has been replaced; The old wooden gutters have been replaced. You get the idea.
There are other things I want to spend more money on: Visiting my two oldest children who live in other parts of the country. Sometimes the lamb chops. Tickets to theaters. See the National Monument of Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, and water lilies in Monet’s garden at Giverny.
I hope I’m not flabbergasted, or puzzled by my relative privileged position. I am lucky to have a house to complain about.
But if I don’t sell my house, I look into a future in which I will spend most of my existing income and a sizable portion of my savings taking care of it. None of us are getting younger and younger, and both of us will need more, no less, care over time. Sooner or later, the ups and downs that come with age – illness, hip replacement, whatever – will come to me, and I need money.
I will miss my covered awning and large backyard. I will remember the way afternoon sunlight shone through the living room window. What I won’t miss is the feeling that I can’t do right next to the house.
4. Feeling bad
It hurts me every time I go through the sliding glass doors on the porch and see the gap between the lower half of the door and the doorway where they no longer meet. During the cold months, I sealed the opening with tape – not a great look – but this wasn’t even what made me sad. What makes me sad is that with all the other fixes that cried out, this didn’t work out. I had to think about what I could afford, and the new sliding door was higher than my salary.
Kitchen cabinets and drawers, a 60’s add-on, are made of multi-layered particle boards, and particle boards are slowly losing their ghosts; Small pieces sometimes fall to the floor.
Then there are three windows I prop that open of stone because they will close if I don’t. And the strange, poltergeist-y window won’t close; I fasten it tightly, and the next day it will come open. The only thing that holds it back is tape, lots of tape.
Poor family, I think, you deserve more than one person who can barely manage the most pressing problems and bandage the rest of them. You deserve your own two baths remodel! You deserve a new kitchen!
But there was another voice in my mind, a voice looking into the slick windows or debris on the front porch screen and said, “Wow! Not my problem anymore! And that voice made me feel light, unobstructed, and happy to continue.
The new owners told me they have a lot of house remodeling plans, and that made me very happy too. They are younger than me and have more money. They are lovable people. They even offered to let me stay in the house sometimes when they are not here, which is too generous.
I will solve that problem. “Wouldn’t that feel weird?” my friends asked me. “It won’t be your home anymore. And they will change it! ”
“Thank goodness,” I told them. On both numbers.
Jenny Allen is a writer and monologue. Her essays and articles have appeared for many years in numerous magazines, including New Yorker, New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, More, Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping. Recent essays appeared in “Disquiet, Please!” a new comedy anthology from the New Yorker and in “In The Fullness of Time: 32 Women on Life After 50” (Simon & Schuster). Her collection of essays is “Would you please stop? : Reflect on life and other bad ideas“(Sarah Crichton Books at Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
This article is reprinted with permission of NextAvenue.org, © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.
More content from Next Avenue: