Owning Your Own Home: A Rags to Rags Tale
by Marjorie Dorfman
Can anyone ever really afford to buy their own home? Read on to find paradise anywhere your heart is.
I once saw a cartoon of a man begging on a street corner holding a cup within his hands. Across his tattered chest he bore a placard that read: JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE. Truer words were never written. I ought to know, not because the Bible tells me so, but because I own my own home. I am living proof that extra care should be taken when making wishes. Thats because they might come true. I lived in a cramped studio apartment in New York City for many years. I wasnt unhappy really; just a bit crowded. When I found myself in a position to buy my own home and deal with lunatics of my own choosing instead of those who just happened to live in my building, I leapt at the chance. My life bears the consequences of not listening to the old Benjamin Franklin adage: Look Before You Leap.
Franklin also said: "He who hesitates Is lost". I guess I cant be too hard on myself. If a man as sober, clear thinking and early to bed and early to rise as Benjamin Franklin couldnt make up his mind about the right course of action, what makes me think I could? Born and raised in New York, I knew as well as almost anyone the pros and cons of city life. (There are many of both, but thats for another article). I opted for peace; not the Dahli Lama or Hari Krishna variety, but green grass, birds and trees with, hopefully, no drug pushers or serial killers swinging from the branches.
I chose New Hope in Pennsylvanias Bucks County as my new home, and it has never disappointed me. Its scenic by-roads and charming history provide a constant source of pleasure to me. I am also close enough to New York (two hours by car or bus) to enjoy the urban terrors as well. In fact, I never changed doctor or dentist when I moved away from the city. I have the best of both worlds, but sometimes they collide as worlds did in that old sci-fi flick, and when they do, watch out!
I looked at several houses before I settled on the one I bought. Some were too remote from anything except cows, and considering that I dont speak Bovine I opted for neighbors with two legs instead of four. (its just the city in my soul, I guess.) I chose a big house with spacious grounds and a lovely view. The professional inspection by a non-prejudiced party whom I suspect doubled on the week-ends as village idiot for a neighboring town, stuck me with a lemon that was far too big to squeeze for lemonade.
About six weeks after I moved to my bucolic paradise I realized there was no escaping certain elements of life. The local newspapers reported the arrest and capture of the biggest drug pusher in the USA in my pretty little town, just a few minutes away from my house, in fact. I had looked at town-houses at the very site where Mr. Wonderful was taken away in cuffs, but the homes that started at a mere $310,000 were way out of my league. (and they say crime doesnt pay). The series of town-houses that once comprised a nineteenth-century glove factory boasted a view of the Delaware River from every room. (No big deal. Before I fixed my roof, I had very nearly the same thing.)
Please dont get me wrong. I love my home. Its just that I paid a lot of money to feel that way. Perhaps you think Im exaggerating? Or am I just a tad ungrateful? Well, maybe I didnt need that new roof after all. I simply should have found the time to learn to swim indoors or at least install a special umbrella system that would protect me, my animals, my electrical equipment and my mothers priceless antiques. My expensive furniture should have found the time also.
My central heating and air-conditioning system was inspected along with the roof, but somehow the inspector found nothing wrong. (Surely you cant be too surprised after what I told you about my suspicions.) I moved in on the last day in August and used the air-conditioning a few times in September. The system seemed okay until the following summer when I turned the air-conditioning on with the first really hot day of the year. The entire unit took a deep, painful gasp and died in a fit of technological fatigue. I had to replace it at a mere cost of $5,000! The new roof was $7,200. Get my drift, or am I making myself perfectly obscure?
Still, the benefits of owning ones own home do prevail, especially since one can usually not afford to move after fixing it up to ones own liking. I can run screaming buck naked from one end of my house to the other and not disturb any of my neighbors. I can also watch my neighbors do the same without disturbing any of them. I can argue or play the television or radio as loud as I like, and I dont have to wait in line to use the laundry room. The only doors that slam shut are my own, and the only noises I hear at night are the crickets doing whatever they do in the grass and the tree frogs doing their thing in the trees. Being a city person at heart, it has taken me a long time to appreciate the silence of the country and understand why it is golden.
I do look back to those days of yesteryear in the studio apartment, but not with misty eyes or a mind clogged with nostalgia. In some ways life was simpler, but not necessarily better. I dont regret a dime Ive spent to make my home my own private haven. The only problem is that Ive run out of them. I yearn for peace at all costs, but a nice, screeching police siren or a four alarm fire might prove an interesting diversion on occasion. As an Englishman once told my father as my mother viewed Buckingham Palace and commented that it looked a bit small and rather somber: "Shes a tough one to please, isnt she?"
Did you know . . .