The Deep End


Adulthood has come upon me very suddenly. I’ve been wading through the kiddie pool for some time now, but am now in the deep end. Sink or swim. Renting was the last bit of fun, pool-floaty technology I had. Renting was my water wings. Now that I’m no longer renting, I can’t pretend I’m not a grown-up anymore. Even knowing I have a baby on the way didn’t do it entirely. But buying a house certainly did.

Before you get all huffy and contend that renting a place doesn’t mean you’re not an adult, all I’m saying is that renting gives you a choice to stave off that last step in the transformation. I’ve never had to worry about repairs or costs or water bills or interior design or a yard. Suddenly, I find myself not just having more things to think about, but I need to develop an entirely new set of preferences.

Floor tiles. Refrigerator brands. Under cabinet lighting. Paint colors. Ceiling fans. Light fixtures. There is a whole world of accoutrement for a house that is just waiting to be narrowed down to that one perfect choice and I realize that I have never spent an iota of effort on having an opinion about any of it. Now not only is it important for me to be aware of my opinion, but I must be informed on it as well, because it will cost me money and blood, sweat and tears to install.

Renting also has the feel of not being in charge, however subtle it may be. I have someone that I report to and must, to a certain extent, fear retribution from. Now, outside of my boss at work, who can do that in a reasonable scenario? I’ve really only got myself and my family to answer to at this point.

It has been a surreal experience for me to drive up to a residential structure and park in the driveway with impunity, because it is mine. To pull out a hammer and chisel and pound away at floor tiles in an act of wanton destruction just because I don’t like them and want something else in their place. To just buy trees to plant—the kind of fixture that heretofore I had just sort of overlooked the placement of, figuring nature had that one under control—and then dig holes in the earth for them.

There’s a level of control and mastery there that is a foreign to me. The house is mine in a way that few things you can purchase are. When you buy a car, you don’t purchase it with the intent to strip it for parts, typically. You don’t buy a bed and then decide you want some new springs in it and then embark on a two week project to replace them all. A house, though, is like putty. You mould it as you see fit.

This will prove, I think, to be an interesting preview. If you were wondering if I was going to connect this back to the baby theme, here it comes. There’s a level of control and mastery involved with having a baby as well. I will define that child’s world. The rules it follows will be my rules. The food it eats will be food I provide. The shelter it has will be shelter I have provided it. It will even look like me. Made, as it were, in my image.

In both cases, the experience will be strange and new and have all manner of unexpected pains. And again, in both cases, over time what was once strange and daunting and really quite a lot of work will begin to become something that feels an awful lot like home.

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  1. #1 by Anne on February 5, 2010 - 10:43 AM

    “The rules it follows will be my rules.” Wait until he/she is a teenager! Or, for that matter, a two year old! Congrats on the house! Where are the pictures?

  2. #2 by Oliver Grigsby on February 5, 2010 - 12:53 PM

    When I come over next week I fully expect to find drawing on the walls with crayon, shouting with glee: “No one can stop meeeeeeee!”

  3. #3 by Jessica on February 5, 2010 - 10:15 PM

    Michael, great post today! Congratulations again on being homeowners. We can’t wait to see you guys again and your house (when you’re ready)!

    Madeleine is barely one year old and our rules seem to be of the “take them or leave them” nature. She’s definately an explorer and is keeping us on our toes! If she was talking to us right now, she would probably say….”No? No what? No No No No.” As it is, she currently proceeds to do whatever it is we’re asking her not to do (or more of it), giving us a glimpse of of what life with a talking two year old will be like! 😀 (This is Brandon by the way)

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