I bought a house a month and a half ago. It's weird to say that I own (well, half-own) something now. I've never owned anything to speak of, really. I've never bought a car or a boat or a motorcycle, all things that one might say are worthy of the title "ownership." I guess one could say that I am the owner of two cats, but I prefer the term "guardian" or "cat mom," which conjures a slightly more altruistic relationship than ownership.
But owning a house? I own a physical space. I own a piece of planet Earth, even if only the smallest fraction.
People have been telling me what a life-altering decision I've made to own something. It's going to take me decades to pay it off, and if all goes according to plan, it is going to be my responsibility for many, many years to come. Have I basically just adopted a child without knowing it? My first thought as I walk the empty rooms and my footsteps echo, is that the house must be given a name, and that it would be neglectful not to. She is waiting, receptive. Her walls are blank and her windows let in all of the light. The back patio looks out over a big tree (a real tree! in Kensington!) and this house just seems...well, happy with itself, as much as a house can appear self-contented. It is like she is reborn and naïve to all of the things that could happen--the oppressive curtains or blinds we could use to darken her view of the outside world, the tenuous Ikea furniture we could build with missing pieces, and all of the tacky colors we could paint her walls. She deserves more. The moment I leave her, I wonder if she's okay to be left alone.
Buying a house is an emotionally turbulent process. I'd like to think of house hunting like going on Tinder. You get pretty good at knowing when a house is a hard swipe left just based on the pictures. You get indignant when the house doesn't look at all like its pictures. You have your heart broken when a dream house is pulled out from under you. You have so little information to go on, and only a few minutes to really decide if this is the house you want to commit to. The house could lie to you, not telling you about its venereal disease or its crumbling foundation and daddy issues. And finally, when you find the right house, you just "know."
So you've found THE house. That's not the end of it. From there, you end up questioning your entire life plan. Buying a house means digging your roots in deeper to wherever you live. It means being responsible for things like broken drain pipes and leaking roofs and god knows what else. Compromises are made--dreams of roof decks or dog parks dashed in favor of other practicalities, like kitchen pantries and multiple bathrooms. You must decide which flaws you can readily accept, which ones can be fixed later on, and which ones are deal breakers.
Home ownership is adulting on crack. Someone basically takes all the adulting things ever and dumps them in a giant pile around you, and you have to figure out how to swim in credit checks and insurance. I've become versed in a new language with terms like escrow, lien, and contingency now a part of my vocabulary. I've been to the bank more in the past three months than I've gone in the past few years. To complete this purchase, I repeated my signature twenty or so times, my handwriting in constant flux. If not for the multiple witnesses, I would fear that someone would question my ability to consistently produce a stable signature. How many ways I can possibly prove that I am me? I wonder if I will ever have to prove my identity in so many different ways ever again.
So now I own THE house. And it's empty. It is mine to fill with the things that best represent who I am and what I want. I share this house with another human being who is no longer just my roommate but my co-owner. Our ownership has complex layers to it. We do not fit the mold of what society says home owners should look like. We had no choice but to sign under "spousal signature" because categories have not been created yet for our model of ownership. Although home ownership among friends is becoming increasingly common, it is still something that people scratch their heads at. I think these are generally the same people who frown upon single parents who intentionally have children on their own. If I want to adopt a house-baby and call it my own, I can do it with whomever I damn please, and I wait for no grand life plan to unfold. I do that shit myself, because really, how many years of Craigslist roommates and shady landlords can one human being take? I think the ball of indecision that is me was ultimately swayed to say fuck it, let's buy a house because I can NOT go back to cohabiting with used condoms, clogged toilets, and unwashed dishes that don't belong to me and linger longer than necessary.
So. Back to the house. There is the elation of new love followed by a little bit of residual doubt. Did I make the right life decision? Maybe. I also want to travel the world, maybe have a rebirth somewhere where I learn to speak the language fluently and get mistaken for a local. I want to have a corgi colony or someday be able to afford Crossfit again. I think we assume that ownership on a grand scale cancels out all of the other hopes and dreams we have. And by "we" I really mean "I." Ownership is a big deal. It's the thing that prepares us to care wholly and absolutely for something--or someone--that we chose to invest in.
Also, proximity to dive bars and good tacos doesn't hurt either.