As the owner of a new home, the question I hear most often is, “how do you like it?” I always smile, nod my head and exclaim that I love it, but the question itself is so loaded and could take an essay to answer. Most people are really just going through the motions and making polite conversation, they don’t want to here just how much the act of purchasing my own home has affected me.
Military families move a lot. Quite often you’ll hear them traveling the country, never staying at one school or in one suburb long. My family was lucky, we made one big move and I spent most of my life in the one city. Even so, I had the blood and mindset of a nomad. A throwback to my family’s past across the globe, always moving, always exploring. At any moment we could be dispatched elsewhere, any day I could come home and learn that I was to leave my friends, my school and my life for somewhere new. This scared and excited me and I was always prepared. Perhaps it was this sense of impending movement that saw me keep my distance from so many, that kept me from truly involving myself in the world around me. Why form bonds if I was only to move on?
This continued throughout my life. After six months in one job I would become restless. After a year in one house I would seek to move on. Everything was temporary, everything a step towards something unknown. This self-imposed migration weighed on me, spurred me to discomforts and yet, all I really craved was a home of my own. The idea of settling in a rental property was simply unheard of. I would still be under someone else’s thumb, movable at someone else’s discretion. A home of my own was a symbol of permanence.
Now that I have that piece of paper that states that this house is mine, that I own it, that I am beholden to no one but myself, it is as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. This is my home. I can settle here. I can breathe knowing that this is no phase. Despite the chain of debt now draped around my neck, I feel lighter than before. The responsibilities of home ownership, the constant effort to present a beautiful extension of me, the added pressure to my pocket and shifting of responsibilities feels more like freedom then bondage. This house of ours, it is us, my partner and myself. It is an extension of our couple, of our commitment, of our personalities and our lives. It is us. It is more than any ring could be to me. It is permanence, a life, our life together. I’ve found myself wishing to become involved with my community. A sense of ownership for the suburb I’ve recently claimed as my own has fallen upon me. This is my home. These are my people. I feel a sense of pride when I pull into my little driveway, when I spy my little red brick castle down the street. This is my home. This is where I will settle, where I hope to raise a family. This is it folks. I can stop, breathe, enjoy, plan, live.
When asked, “how do you like your new house”, I smile and nod exclaim that I love it. What I really mean is that I’ve never felt more free.