My happiness project this month is to love my home.
Five years ago I moved into a different house, one that was purchased with my then fiance. I didn’t have a lot of money so we agreed that I would give him a couple hundred a month towards the bills plus I would be responsible for the cleaning and groceries. When we moved in, I used my savings to take care of furniture and paint and small appliances. Still, the house became a way for him to have the upper hand. He would remind me that he bought the house “for me” but then turn around and tell me that it was “his house.” I worked very hard to make it work but it didn’t and there were things about that house that really bothered me…
Other than the relationship stuff, of which there was a lot, the house was a long way from work and family. My ex was traveling for work during the week so from Monday morning the Friday night, I was alone. I felt marooned in the middle of nowhere and it was the middle of nowhere. One night a week I went to my best friend’s house to watch our TV show and have dinner. Another day I went to watch a show with my mom. But when we got cable and I got busy with school and housework, I was just lonely. It was the first time that I had lived cat-less since I was 7 and I longed for one. The house was always cold. (Tt was to be kept cold while my ex was gone and the heat was turned up when he came home. Sometimes he checked the propane tank to make sure I wasn’t using too much.) Plus, it was a creepy effing house. I would lay in bed at night and expect the bedroom door to open on it’s own. The front door would open itself between 10 and 11 at night numerous times, sometimes even after being locked and checked. I wasn’t happy.
After that all ended, having only spent 6 months in the house, I moved back home. My mother had taken over my bedroom so I was in the basement. It was a nice basement, walk out with a fireplace and patio and bathroom. I didn’t have a door but I found ways to have privacy. It wasn’t bad but I can tell you in all honesty that it was one of the hardest times of my life. I felt like a low low loser. I felt cheated. I had done so much work for that house. I had encouraged my ex in every facet of his life and then someone else was reaping the benefits. There I was, living in my parent’s basement, running around with a boy who was 4 years younger than me and a musician, working the same job I had always worked, still going to school. All I had to show for that period of time was more house shit in storage, some leftover paint, and the kitten I had finally just gone and picked out, my delightful Delilah.
But I worked hard and I was diligent. Not long after moving home I was promoted at work. My student loans were still in deferment and my mother wouldn’t charge me rent so I was able to put money away and pay things off. I lived on very little money. I drank dollar Blatz at the bar. I got my masters degree and graduated with a 3.9 GPA. I was promoted again, a full time position was created to keep me around. I worked my 40 hours, went to gigs with my boyfriend, spent time with my family and bestie. A year after moving home, I put the offer in on my house.
That whole summer, the summer of 2010, I had this feeling that something was right around the corner. My life was about to take off. I knew it. I could feel it. And it did. I got my house. I broke up with the musician. I met the man who I would marry.
My house is not a lot. It’s a bilevel in an aging subdivision, built in 1973 and not very well maintained. Still, I got it for $38k and my mortgage payment is less than rent in the dumpiest apartments. It was home the moment I pulled into the drive and saw my real estate agent sitting on the porch in the sunshine. Coming here ended up meaning so much to me. And Hubby was here from the start. He literally moved me in two weeks after we met. On our first official date, we stayed out until 4 and then he slept on my bedroom floor with me. Sometimes, I look around and feel so good about this work that I have built.
But I noticed last year that I was not loving it like I used to. In fact, I was downright frustrated. I’ve talked before about how the maintenance of life is something that I have a hard time with. When we are busy, it is easy for our home to become more background noise. The lawnmower breaks. The dishwasher leaks. There is mold in the bathroom. The junk drawer is too full. We need bookshelves but don’t want to spend the money. The walls could use a sanding. The tree out front is dropping branches. It’s easy to come home and face one more annoyance and forget that you have something wonderful.
So, this month is about enjoying my home. It’s about having a glass of wine after work and listening to a record. It’s about lighting candles. It’s about taking to time to fix something that is bothering me, like the effing dishwasher. It’s about remembering that my home is my oasis in this crazy world. I want to be happy to be here and I want it to be a productive and relaxing place. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.
“Fill your home with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” -Dr. Seuss