I have owned a house for just shy of two months now. The two months have been blurred and boisterous — something like a movie’s depiction of a wild night out, all motion blur and jump cut (Ikea trips and cold-pressed juice taking the place of strip clubs and tequila).
A friend asked me the other day what’s surprised me of the change, and I don’t think there was anything pithy I could answer: a lot of things have changed, a lot of things haven’t. I’ll be using this page to write down some notes.
- I am very, very lucky.
- The first month was really exciting and, in retrospect, really tough. I am a creature of habit who has an annoying LinkedIn-core approach to my morning routine 1 — I know myself well enough to know that I find peace and strength in having certain parts of my life be pillars, and the chaos of moving to a new neighborhood and dealing with all of this (imagine me gesturing wildly here) stuff was really tough. I stopped working out because I couldn’t find a nearby gym (or time to use one); I stopped working on the projects that gave me joy (because doing House Stuff always felt more urgent); I started drinking more, because a few cocktails were the most reliable way to conquer a stressful day.
- Motivation to do House Stuff drops precipitously after everything is settled in the right room. There are days where I look at the (uninstalled) light fixture in the guest room or the unhung TV propped against the living room mantle and consider betting against myself that certain things will never get done. It’s a certain variety of the 80/20 rule — I’m able to get 80% of comfort from the small tasks, making it much less appealing to deal with the backlog on the proverbial 2 JIRA board.
- The moments I feel at my most science dog are the mundane ones: figuring out when I’m supposed to put out the recycling, dealing with my first wolf spider, trying to find a local whippersnapper to mow my lawn. 3
- I understand what everyone was so excited about Costco for. The unit economics are a lot more attractive when “ehh, we’ll throw it in the basement” is a conceivable answer to any sort of storage-oriented question.
- I miss the ten-minute walk to work, but biking is actually a very nice bookend for the day: brisk and bracing in the mornings, cathartic in the evenings. (Stay tuned to see if I am still so rhapsodic come December.)
- There are certain parts of this enterprise that seem as if they will never lose their magic: being able to walk directly outside to a fenced backyard with a Weber grill whenever I please; being able to paint and drill and transform a space on a whim. I have a coworker whose sole hobby is home improvement stuff, and I never quite understood it before; it turns out that the power of transformation, of turning sweat and time and wood into progress, is primordial and intoxicating.
- It turns out houses can just be, like, slanted, and that’s a normal thing.
- Also my steps to the front porch don’t have rails and are now in a sort of Schrödinger’s cat situation because no contractor can legally work on them without also adding rails. 4
- I have no idea how much anything costs. Tiles for a new kitchen floor were an order of magnitude less expensive than I would have guessed; getting a hole filled in in the basement, on the other hand, a king’s ransom.
- I am very, very lucky.
(More to come.)
This is much to the consternation of my partner, whom I love for tolerating me in many respects but particularly for letting me ply her out of bed at six in the morning with promises of coffee and a crosword. ↩
I haven’t reached “created a JIRA for my house” levels of obnoxious, I promise. ↩
Typing the phrase “mow my lawn” is, for instance, a moment that seems so simultaneously quixotic and surreal. ↩
One has, however, generously suggested that they can guide me on what materials to buy and advise me on how to work on the stairs while working on a different project, which of course is very chill and legal. ↩