When we found out in February that we were finally parents I immediately claimed the role of the “best gift giver ever” because the small fry is due just days after KK’s 30th birthday.  How can you top the gift of a baby for your birthday? 

How about you close on a house the day after you turn 33?  

Friday is closing and I am feeling pretty darn overwhelmed.  We’ve planned a day just for us on the 14th to celebrate my birthday and help us relax before the chaos truly sets in but it doesn’t quite soothe all the fear.  Last night I lay awake worrying about this decision we have made.  

Exhibit A: Neither of us actually want to be home owners.  Broken pipes and yards to mow really scare the pants off me!  Our home and yard may be approximately exactly the size of a postage stamp but that is still more responsibility than I was planning to take on this summer.

Exhibit B: While I love the idea of our “up and coming” neighborhood – with the neighbors who grow pumpkins in their front yards and the neighborhood association that discusses gentrification and whether or not the new food co-op will actually be affordable for all who live in the area – I am scared about moving from an area with almost no crime to an area with a fairly high rate of vandalism and theft.  Example – on the same day that the current owner of our house installed new appliances they were stolen out of the property.  ADT is a necessity, not an option here and I really can’t afford to have my car broken in to at night.  Pregnancy means that reminding myself that I lived in Belfast N. Ireland in 2001, and in a less than ideal neighborhood in New Haven CT during graduate school does not alleviate this fear.

Exhibit C: We are moving from 1700sq ft of living space to 1100 sq ft of living space while adding to the number of people in our household.  As we debate what to sell and what to keep I worry that my beloved’s parents will never visit again because there is no good place for them to stay.  Her father is so averse to “being in the way” or “putting you out” that KK’s sister had to build an in-law apartment in her home so that he would come spend a few weeks with them in Denver while they were living there…  

All of these fears are balanced by an understanding that this is a deliberate move.  I love city living.  scratch that.  I LOVE city living.  Our new house is just 3 blocks from an adorable little downtown area with a music shop, excellent restaurants, a branch of our city library, and a bunch of adorable little stores.  We can walk to the center of the real downtown of our city in just 1.4 miles and City Market in 1.3.  All of these walks are aided by a fantastic walking and biking trail that runs throughout our city, right through the aforementioned adorable downtown.  For the first time in our lives we will be living our values of living smaller.  I hope that over time living smaller with less expenses will mean that we have more to give to support our community.  In addition, for what we would pay to rent the home that we have purchased we were able to get a 15 year mortgage.  I expect that we will spend a bit more on repairs, but given that the house was gut renovated over the course of this past year (right down to replacing old floor joists) our 1880s cottage feels quite a bit like new construction.  As the fancy-pants folks continue to push out of downtown into neighboring areas our home values will rise like crazy.  Not bad for our investment, although it may adjust the tenor and urgency of those gentrification conversations.

Maybe my fear is not actually so much about having made a wrong decision as about having bucked society’s expectations of how I should be living. In some ways the economics of our decision make excellent sense.  It is highly likely that in the time that we live in our home it will rise in value, and a 15 year mortgage will allow us to benefit as much as possible from the increasing value of our property.  But the choice to purchase a home at much less than what we were “qualified” for, in a neighborhood that is not know for its safety or beauty is a less than common approach.  When I make decisions that go against common wisdom – “Adding to your family? Then you MUST buy a bigger home in an enviable school district!  How else will your child ‘get ahead’? – I always struggle.  

But then I remember that I am a socialist at heart.  I don’t talk much about faith on this blog, but I was reminded at our Denominations’ Annual Conference Meeting on Friday of this passage that guides so many of my choices.  Acts 2:44-47 NRSV “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.”  I don’t believe that one must be Christian to be God’s child, but I do believe that if one is going to call oneself a Christian one should think long and hard about how what they have and “need” will affect their community and the world around them.

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