Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You Can't Be Too Careful

He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself.

-Author Unknown

When we moved to Texas, we bought a house. That, as a matter of fact, was the reason for going to Texas: everywhere else in the world, it seemed, had become far too expensive to own a home.
So we were enticed by the prospect of owning something at last. On our first look around the house, I noted a fifth bedroom. The real estate agent had said there were only four. 'Only' four, mind you.

"No", she said, "that is not a bedroom".
"Is it not?" I said. I was baffled.
It was not a bedroom, not technically. It was a closet. According to, I suppose, the deities who decide upon such things, a bedroom must have a window. Otherwise it is a closet.
My bedroom in the house I grew up in was smaller than that closet, which perhaps explains my determined persistence that it was actually a bedroom.
We felt incredibly lucky to be in that house. It was brand new, still smelled of paint, and nothing had been tainted or used.
We were almost afraid to begin living there. We were reluctant to hang anything on the walls for fear of scratching the paint; we cooked very gently, with the fan running to avoid our home smelling like a cafe; we walked permanently in bare feet across the carpet and closed cupboard doors with a whisper.
The house came equipped with a dishwasher, a sparkling accessory we would have no use for.
My Spouse and myself abhor dishwashers and find them, for ourselves, a waste of time, physical energy and money. Granted there are only two of us but all it takes, I feel, is a few moments standing at a kitchen sink and all one's dishes will be clean. Neither of us had ever owned a dishwasher, much less operated one.
Our house came, also, with a year-long guarantee that any faults or imperfections would be fixed by the builders. Any paint marks, chipped wood or loose nails would be amended at no extra cost to us since they would be considered defects from before we took possession of the house.
We made sure to inspect everything to get our money's worth. We were so very careful to note all the wall marks and loose doors and anything that the eye could see.
Two people were never more diligent. We joked with each other that we were obsessing: surely everything worth fixing had been discovered already?
Then we decided to ship out of there, so to speak. There were many reasons but we did receive one too many letters from our Home Owner's Association implying that our one and a half inch front lawn grass was upsetting the neighbours, changing irreparably the view of the landscape and causing untold chaos probably having a ripple effect to this day. Oh, one can only imagine.
Just across the street from our house, I remember, was an empty plot. Every couple of months, the most remarkable crowd of blue wildflowers would grow tall and radiant and it was the single bright spot seen from our window. Inevitably, though, some men would come with lawnmowers and slash everything to a forlorn patch of stubble. Talk about changing the landscape for the worse.
Our house, as it turned out, was on the market for almost a year. We were elsewhere and could do nothing to help the progress of its sale.
It was devastating to discover, when somebody did offer to buy it, that an inspection proved our dishwasher had a leak and it needed to be mended.
Oh, dear.
The twelve months after buying the house having long since passed, it became our responsibility, our pocket.
We had of course never used that dishwasher, not once. We never even opened the door to verify there was indeed a dishwasher inside.
That, I am afraid, was not very diligent of us but it was a lesson harshly learned.
Now we rent an apartment, and there is a peace of mind we lacked when we owned a house. We regret, of course, that we didn't buy a house at the 'right' time when the housing market was booming but for what it is worth, we find a great freedom in being able to bump about and hang paintings and use this apartment respectfully but happily.

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