Posts Tagged ‘homeowner’

Living Alone

November 15, 2013

This oh-so Portland article about professional cuddlers and the need for human touch reminded me of the five and a half years I spent living on my own in my old little country house. I’d already been thinking about that time considerably, as I’m transitioning between tenants in my home there; as a result I’ve spent a number of hours within those walls doing menial repairs and reflecting upon the place where I’d spent so many hours, days, weeks, and months by myself.

I don’t recall being lonely, per se. But during those years, every now and again, I’d come to these stark realizations that I was, capital letters, ALONE.

One blustery winter I spent considerable time putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. I even topped it with a handmade, red foil-covered letter ‘S’ to take place of the star or angel I didn’t have amongst my mostly hand-me-down ornaments. It was lovely, in my eyes. One of the first things I’d do when I got home from work was turn on the tree’s lights. Only after Christmas and New Years, when I was taking the tree down, did I realize that no one else besides me had seen it in person. That seemed so wrong for the holiday. It retroactively almost rendered the tree– and thusly my effort– pointless.

Another time when visiting a friend they reached out and touched my arm. While I kept my cool on the outside, inside I surprisingly thrilled at the touch– only at that moment did I realize that it hadn’t happened in so long. I’m not sure how long it had been since my last tactile human interaction, but it had been enough to register with me in that moment, and only upon receiving the touch of another person did I recognize its absence.

When I first moved out of that house, trading up the country life for a much more fitting one in Portland, it was really tough to rent out that personal space. The house had truly become an extension of myself. When I trotted prospective tenants through it, seeing their eyes judging the chipped paint along the trim, its steep old staircase, or tiny kitchen, it felt like they were simultaneously judging me. As someone who has always intensely cared about what others thought of her, this was more than tough. In fact my first and only panic attack I’ve ever had was right before my future in-laws came to the house to help me spruce it up before renting it out. The whole point of their visit was to find what was wrong and fix it. It was horrifying.

Only then did I realize that through all the time I’d spent in that house, alone, painting walls and cooking meals and paying bills and cuddling with cats and hosting dates and scaring away raccoons, I was living within this larger version of me. The bathroom I painted hot pink. The sun porch where I drank my coffee. The creaky third step. The drafty second floor. The leopard print carpet. The crooked kitchen cupboards. It was all me.

I’ve now been out of that house for almost three years, and that connection and sense of external identity are almost gone. Now I consider it more of a nuisance, a physical space that’s holding me back. I notice its faults more readily and oddly are more compelled to fix them. In its place is a great sense of home I’ve established with my husband, with whom I cuddle, hug, kiss, headbutt, pinch, grab, smack, and poke so often it’s ridiculous. It’s such a stark contrast to those solitary years in the country. I think if you plopped one day’s worth of the physical contact I have now to that of those years, the side-by-side difference would be dizzying. Obviously the more recent living and interactive conditions are the ideal, but I don’t look upon my years of living alone as a negative time. If anything, it helped lay the foundation for the independence I enjoy now within my marriage and cohabitation with my husband. There’s a small sense of accomplishment in that I know I can be alone, and be content while being alone.


Housing Quandaries

November 19, 2010

I’ve owned my little blue house now for five years. It’s been my home ever since college, and I established it all on my own with my little kitties. I painted the rooms bright, vivacious colors. I planted gardens that (more or less) offered bounties of delicious edibles. I kept cozy next to the fireplace or in the hot tub. I held parties with friends. I made dinners for dates. I stayed in on rainy weekends and watched marathons of LOST or Firefly while doing laundry. I operated my freelance design business. I got it dirty, I cleaned it up, and then I got it dirty again. I’ve learned immeasurable things about life, living, being a grown up, and having tangible responsibilities. It’s been my home.

With all that in mind, as I previously mentioned I’m moving to Portland in the spring to live with my lovely boyfriend of two years. It’s our compromise. I’ll drive 45ish miles through the Gorge to work in Hood River from east Portland every day, he’ll drive (or take transit) across the city to the west side for his job and jiu jitsu. So my little house… well its future it slightly up in the air. It all comes down to…


  • Pros for renting: I keep the house and have a solid investment property in an ideally situated neighborhood in a town that’s up and coming. Over the years I can continue fixing it up (it is 92 years old, after all) and it could always be a back up living situation.  If I’m lucky I might make an extra few bucks each month.
  • Cons for renting: I have to be a landlord. I’m not sure I can be a landlord. I have to find a reliable renter. I’ll have to work on the house more over the next several months to fix it up to rental standards. I’ll have to have a reserve of money (something I barely have now) for upkeep. Since I’ll be living 80 miles away, my locally-based dad so kindly offered to help out with things should I rent it out. Super nice of him (hi dad!), but I hate being an extra burden. There’s a good chance I won’t make money from rent income, and it’s iffy if I’ll break even.
  • Pros for selling: I take Sean’s advice of “separating emotions and business”, call my time with my home wonderful and take it off my hands. It has huge curb value (in fact when I was house hunting it was the first I fell in love with from picture alone). If I’m lucky I might make money off of it that can go towards paying off my student loan, a credit card, my new car, expenses for moving to Portland, or maybe even a fun trip thrown in there, if not put away for investment purposes. In today’s economy, many say that having an investment property isn’t as useful or as sound of advice as it used to be. By not being tied down with a mortgage I am freer to go anywhere and do anything.
  • Cons for selling:Who knows how long it will be on the market in today’s economy, or if I’ll get a good price for it? Plus I’ll probably have to do a lot of work on the house to prepare it for showing. I’d lose my first and only investment property.

Things I’m doing now to prepare for the move, no matter what the above situation is:

  • Selling my hot tub. I don’t use it enough to warrant paying for its energy costs, and the money from it will go toward my first couple car payments, some house expenses, and maybe Christmas. The buyer is picking it up this weekend.
  • Selling my old car. That money is all going toward car payments for the next of the year. I haven’t found a buyer yet, but have gotten some great advice on pricing and marketing.
  • Getting rid of a lot of junk. I need to separate myself and my emotions from all my stuff. Like many I’ve been reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, and he stresses placing more importance upon experiences (going out with friends for dinner, taking weekend trips, taking big trips, doing something new) versus this accumulation of physical stuff. While I’ve always believed in experiences over stuff, I have a LOT of junk that I keep around for nebulous emotional, “maybe if” circumstances. Plus it’ll be a pain to move next spring. So it’s consignment stores, Craigslist, eBay, garage sales, thrift  stores, giving away to friends… the works.

Any opinions on the above? Advice? Tips, tricks, candy? Ooh, cookies??

The Five Year Life Change

November 4, 2010

Since I started high school, every five years I undergo some (semi) drastic change. High school for five years (it was Canada, where you’re in HS from grades 8-12), then college for five years (studying abroad + meandering through my studies = one extra year), then I almost immediately bought my home in The Dalles, where I’ve been living for the past five years content as can be alongside my sometimes thriving garden and my three fat and happy cats. So what’s next?

Portland, my friends. Finally, Portland.

The manfriend and I will be finally sharing one roof next spring. Sooo… it’s more like five and a half years, but dammit, for consistency it counts. But for us the 90 miles of distance and the weekend thing is getting old, so we’re crazy enough to be around each other for more than a couple days. Plus? He’s never lived with cats. WELCOME TO HAIR EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME, SEAN.

Well, you know, more than you have already.

Anyway, that means I’m undergoing several months of full on grown up shit. Potentially refinancing the house. Some double paned, energy efficient windows would be really nice, seeing as this 92 year old place and all of its quirky, cracked, single paned windows are drafty as hell in the winter. I’m also buying a hybrid car, partially because my current vehicle is on its last leg, partially because the fuel economy is AWESOME. Plus I hear that in Portland they throw Tofurky at you if you drive anything that gets less than 28mpg. Or something. Prepping this little place to become a rental is big on the list too. And finding a renter. And not being a complete douchebag of a landlord. And somehow finding the money for all of this…

So I’ve been mired in paperwork and research and quotes and investment strategies, which five years ago would have probably rendered me due for a bender. Ten years ago I probably would have crapped my pants. Fifteen years ago I would have no idea what half of those words or concepts meant.

Aww shucks, y’all. I’m growing up.