Sunday, October 02, 2005
This Isn’t My Beautiful House...
Last year, I decided it would be a good idea to buy a house. Throwing money down the rent-drain irritated me and our lease was about to expire. It seems insane to me now, but I also believed that making a good life in Texas would be possible (despite the mounting evidence otherwise). In my fantasies, I envisioned making a life with my partner, where a few flowers grew: a little place to call our own, you know.
Given my love of vintage things (I am a historian, after all), I wanted an older house. With partner in tow, I canvassed the "historic" areas of our town. In this part of the country, historic means anything older than 1950. In the end, we plunged ourselves into astonishing debt for a house that had been built in 1939.
True, it needed a great deal of work. It was structurally sound, but cosmetically trapped in a void of 1960s "renovation." At some point, the previous owners decided to wallpaper every inch of the house with the biggest, brightest, boldest flower prints they could find. Some rooms looked like Holly Hobby had vomited, exploded, and then epoxied her remains to the walls. Insanity guided these previous owners to even wallpaper the closets (I am not kidding) and upholster the walls of a bathroom (exactly the room in the house where you wants lots of cloth -- all the better to develop a colony of toxic mold).
My partner had serious reservations about it, but I insisted. Together, I was sure that we would save this great old house from decay and become the toast of the neighborhood.
In retrospect, I watched too much HGTV. Episode after candy-coated episode on this cheery network showed good, gay men restoring old houses to immense glory, all in 22 minutes. These smiling Euro-American queer boys promised a painless journey to a housing utopia.
I discovered a harsh truth. These gay men a)have a huge amount of money and b)have a huge amount of talent with tools. Turns out, I lack both.
It is a great house, don't misunderstand me. Had I the above mentioned money and talent, it would be quite grand. Perhaps I really should have paid attention to all those repair lessons that my father tried to force on me as a child. At the time, it seemed much more fun to play with my sisters' Charlie's Angels dolls than learn about installing drywall. Hey, I was only seventeen at the time. Turns out he was right, I really would need to know how to use a socket set.
Now I am in a crumbling house that my partner hates. Not just hates, but really despises. This kind of kills any other joy that might have been left in home ownership.
My partner hates the size, in particular. The house is immense. It is Texas, after all. A sales clerk once noted it is a state "where people like their big trucks, big houses, and big boobs." For us, the house is so large that entire rooms are empty because we couldn't afford to buy furniture.
I have made my life a life of regret. For the past year, I have dumped chemicals onto the walls or steamed them thin trying to get the wallpaper off. The "American Dream" didn't really work out for me.
As I listen to the shower dripping endlessly and look at my badly patched walls, I wonder how did I get here? Where does that highway lead to? Oh, wait, that is just the radio playing the Talking Heads...