Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Well, it's official. The truth is finally hitting my clique of friends: It appears that we're not kids anymore.
I'm mighty good when it comes to denial. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still in college and have just been skipping classes for a reeeeally long time (and when my parents find out, I will be sooooo dead, dude!) Responsibility is for old fuddy-duddy no-fun-niks like Mom and Dad. As for me, I'm such an easy-going, carefree 21-year-old that I've been at it for seventeen years now. Some folks say that makes me a 38-year-old.
But it's finally happened. One of my clique -- Friend Jason, no less -- has bought a house.
I've been an apartment dweller my entire adult life -- and I'm pretty much okay with it. In fact, I've been pretty much the SAME apartment dweller my entire adult life. I moved into my complex my senior year of college, and thus far the only move I've made since is to leap from an efficiency to an upstairs one bedroom.
Why on Earth would anybody want to move into a house? I own a lot of stuff, and, take it from me, stuff is oftentimes heavy. I couldn't imagine putting all of my worldly possessions into a U-Haul without rupturing a disc and/or spleen. If it's time for me to move -- wait, I'm told by my girlfriend that the correct phrasing here is "WHEN it's time for me to move," I'm only gonna do so when I've got enough money to pay a team of testosterone-fueled macho men to do all the work.
With a house comes loads of needless house-related responsibilities. Houses have lawns, and for some reason, people like to keep them mowed and raked and snow-shoveled. Houses have gutters that clog up with really vile crud. Houses have hot water heaters and boilers and plumbing and ductwork and vents and appliances and a cornucopia of fancy things that can, and will, break.
My apartment has many of those things, too. But when THEY break, I pick up a phone and call a dude named Scotty who comes and makes it all better, and it doesn't cost me squat except a monthly rent check. So what's the point in being a homeowner?
"But Shane," the responsible portion of today's audience says, "if you buy a home, you can start earning equity!"
But what do I need equity FOR exactly? So that I can one day buy a bigger and more breakable house? Have yet more acres of lawn to be mowed and raked and shoveled? Forget that.
Still, who am I to stop Friend Jason from growing up? So when he told me his offer had been accepted and that he was now inarguably a resident of Rock Island, I smiled with encouragement and approval.
Last Saturday was moving day, and we were there in full support. Over the years, Jason's not just been my best friend, he's been the rock I can rely on for help anytime day or night, not the least of which was when I needed a hand moving from one apartment to the other. I was more than happy to return the favor.
Of course, having worked the night before until 4 a.m., I wasn't exactly the see-you-at-sunup kinda guy. By the time my girlfriend and I arrived, Jason and his other friends had already moved most of the big stuff. I wandered into his new place to check it out for the first time.
Yep, it was a house, alright. Hmm, the living room sure had nice carpeting. And the kitchen was really spacious. And do I see a dishwasher? I started counting -- one bedroom, two bedrooms... THREE bedrooms? Man, that seemed needless for just one guy.
I went out to the truck and started grabbing whatever I could. As I deposited a box in the spare bedroom, the weirdest thing happened. It was an empty room, but for just half a second, I swear I saw my entire music collection arranged in a meticulous display of imaginary shelves.
I walked back into the living room and caught a flashing glimpse of my sectional sofa against the wall, with a perfect view of my TV and sound system. And I'm pretty sure I heard the bass thump of the subwoofer that I own but never turn on for fear of disturbing my neighbors.
Another box was marked "basement," so I found the stairs and headed down, dreading the inevitable array of spiderwebs and concrete that awaited. But wait a tick. The basement is CARPETED? Hang on, the basement is FINISHED?! It was like another mini-house down there!
After the boxes were all moved, Jason had to return the U-Haul. But he had also scheduled the cable guy to come hook things up, so I volunteered to wait at the house while he drove the truck back. While he was gone, I set to work hooking up his audio & video equipment while my girlfriend entertained herself by unpacking and setting up his kitchen in record time. As I sat there on the floor unrolling speaker wire listening to the love of my life humming away in the kitchen, I was pretty sure for a quick moment I felt... home.
I went out into the backyard. Sure enough, it was COVERED in dead leaves. I checked in the garage -- a GARAGE! -- and saw a rake leaning against a wall. I raked it across the ground and felt a weird excitement to see a clear strip of green grass unveiled. I kept on raking until I was staring at a huge pile of leaves. It was a bit of work, sure -- but kind of satisfying.
It didn't hit me until the drive home that the odd feeling in my stomach wasn't indigestion -- it was a tinge of jealousy. I wanted pretty new carpeting and extra bedrooms and a dishwasher and a finished basement. I wanted to rake my own backyard (or at least pay a neighbor kid to do it.) Instead, I was pulling into the parking lot of apartment sweet apartment -- where my upstairs neighbors enjoy frequent and voluminous 3 a.m. frolicking sessions. Where the drives, sidewalks, and car windshields routinely become icy deathtraps. Where I can get a contact high from the random scents wafting out of neighboring units. Oh, and where, in two days, I get to call the state's attorney's office to find out what day I'm going to be called as a witness because one of my neighbors allegedly raped a girl some 20 feet from my bedroom wall.
Uh oh. I think I just decided that I want to buy a house. Man, am I a sucker.