I fear that I’m not cut out for homeownership.
Back in our early 20’s, friends told my spouse and me about why they loved buying a house versus renting. “You get to pick out the paint colors and the appliances and make everything just the way you want it!” they said.
My spouse and I just blinked at them when they said things like this.
I don’t know what my spouse’s excuse is (I think it’s just a combination of not caring and not liking to spend money), but I grew up in military housing. The walls were painted Navajo White. The floors were asbestos-backed tile. The appliances worked, and if they didn’t, my mom called the base handyman who came by and had a cup of coffee at our dining table after replacing the dishwasher drain pump.
With as often as I’ve changed dwellings in my life, I’ve come to think of appliances, paint colors, flooring, and kitchen counter materials as interesting (and sometimes happy) surprises. I go into a new home and discover what’s unique about it. The idea that I can—or should want to—customize my home is absolutely foreign to me.
In my late 20’s on the playground at my daughter’s preschool, I sat trying to arrange my vacant expression into something resembling cordial interest as the other parents animatedly discussed flooring options and the relative merits of different kitchen counter materials.
When we bought our first house in Salt Lake City in our 30’s, we made no changes to it except to replace the broken kitchen faucet. Two years later, we bought our second and current house in Massachusetts. We hoped to get away without making any changes to this house, either, but that wasn’t to be. First the kitchen faucet failed. Then my toddler drew all over the wallpaper in the dining room. Then we discovered mildew behind the wallpaper in the bathrooms (who puts wallpaper in the bathroom?). Then one of the 50-year-old toilets failed. Then both of the 50-year-old bathroom faucets failed, and one of them is a no-longer-made slant-back faucet and so we can’t replace it without replacing the sink.And if we’re replacing the sink, we may as well replace the failing light in the aged medicine cabinet, which means we have to replace the medicine cabinet.
Oh, my God.
The need to choose items for my home causes me great stress. In the past year and a half, despite our intention to not make any improvements to our home, I’ve found myself picking out paint colors for three rooms, selecting three bathroom faucets and a kitchen faucet, comparing washers and dryers, picking a dishwasher, buying a bathroom sink and vanity, and shopping for a medicine cabinet and vanity light. Facebook has been giving me nothing but home improvement ads for months.
I hate being forced to care about these things, but I also feel a lot of pressure to make the right choice. This results in irritability. And irritability results in yelling. And yelling results in stomping around and storming from the house for a fast, furious walk around the neighborhood, which puts more steps on my FitBit but puts my children on edge.
And add to this that home improvement stores give me hives.
Okay, so they don’t really give me hives. But they make me feel as disoriented as casinos do. Both places are completely cut off from natural light so that night and day lose all meaning. It’s like being in an alternate dimension and the only way out is handing my credit card to the cashier for items that I have no idea if I’m going to like once they’re installed in my home.
Today I bought a vanity and sink and a vanity light for over top of a to-be-purchased medicine cabinet. This was all excruciating, and not only because in order to pick out the light fixture, I had to stare up at glaring lamps ten feet over my head and try to imagine them in my little sunlit bathroom.
God, I hate home improvement.
And I still have to select grout.