Monday, July 15, 2013

New House: Movin' On Up, Movin' On Over

I'm glad we decided not to move on Saturday.  Even though Tropical Storm Chantal fell apart, we still had an afternoon of tropical deluges and street flooding.  And we still have some packing to do.  I suspect that even as we approach the closing date of our old house (please let that be soon!), we'll be packing.

Over the week-end, my spouse and I had several interesting conversations about the new house.  First, a picture:

That's my spouse by the car.  The red spot at his belt is a measuring tape.  I suspect he'll be wearing that a good deal over the coming weeks.

Our new house is on Plat Map #1 for Broward county, which means it's one of the oldest houses in the county (built in 1928, although some records say 1938).  It's a historic house in a desirable district of Hollywood.

Our old house was also built some time during the late 1920's or 1930's.  But the neighborhood isn't as desirable.  We've lived there since 1998, and we've put a lot of time, effort, and money into it.  My spouse feels some amount of sadness that because of its location, it's not ever going to appreciate in value the way he feels it should.  It's ringed by streets with more transient populations and old hotels that have been turned into 1 room rentals.

I feel a strange sense of guilt about it all.  Part of it is my inner 19 year old, who is judgmental and sanctimonious.  She thinks about all the social justice work that could be done with the money that we're spending on the mortgage and the repairs to the new house.  I wrote this blog post about that.

I also feel a strange sense of guilt about all the people who aren't similarly situated to move to a different neighborhood.  While we've paid off our mortgage for our old house, I have many colleagues who are trapped in their houses, with mortgages that are more than the house is worth.  That's not my fault, but I feel a strange sense of guilt (survivor guilt?) about our mobility.

My spouse pointed out that just because I love the house and just because I feel that we're getting a great opportunity, not everyone will see it that way.  I tend to forget.

My spouse pointed out that if others were looking for a house, they might automatically rule out a smallish house in a historic neighborhood.   They might prefer a much larger house in a newer neighborhood.

My spouse has been feeling that the house is a step down in some ways.  For him, it's about the space.  We're losing about 600 square feet.  That may not sound like much, but it is.  We've got a whole closet of memorabilia which means that we'll have some tough decisions to make.

I like the pool and the proximity to the beach.  My spouse feels a bit of sadness that our lot size will be smaller, with much of it taken up by the pool and the pavers that make up the patio around the pool.

I like the quietness of the neighborhood.  I like feeling that I'll likely be able to walk around my neighborhood without being harassed.  I like that the people walking the neighborhood look stable.  In our old neighborhood, we see various people with mental issues ambling through, along with prostitutes and some homeless people.  Again, I feel that white, middle class guilt for feeling threatened by some of them--and yes, I feel this guilt, even though some of them are clearly threatening.  And because of the presence of prostitutes, if I take a walk by myself during daylight hours, I run the risk of unpleasant encounters with men who are looking for prostitutes--and it doesn't matter what I'm wearing or how I'm moving.  I've been approached by strange men in vans when I've been running, when I've looked sweaty and gross.  That's why I drive to the beach to run or go to spin class at the gym.

So, I'm looking forward to being in a better neighborhood.  My spouse feels anger about the downward spiral of our old neighborhood that precipitated the move.  But our old neighborhood has always been marginal; we bought a house hoping that the neighborhood might enjoy a renaissance. 

In the past year, we decided we were tired of waiting.  And in the past six months, we decided that the window was closing:  if we wanted to move to the historic district, house prices were about to move beyond our reach.

I've written some about how the journey from house offer to closing; it's been more arduous than I thought it would be.  I feel like I spent much of the month of June sending documents to various people; at times it felt quite endless.

And now, that part has ended.  On to the next part of the journey:  finishing the packing of what needs to move with us to the new house, moving on Saturday, and then the cleaning of the old house so that we can put it on the market in the next few weeks. 

But I also want to return to writing.  I want to write a poem, and I want to do some revision to my memoir.  By this time next week, I want to send a few submissions to journals that only read in the summer.  It's hard to believe that we're getting close to the end of summer.


Maureen said...

Wishing you a lot of happiness in the new house.

Kathleen said...

Best wishes as you pack, move, unpack, and sort all this out! Sounds like a beautiful place!

Wendy said...

What a beautiful house!

Will you have a house blessing as you settle in, I wonder?

Kristin said...

Thanks, everyone, for the good wishes.

Wendy, I've never had a house blessing before. My pastor suggested it, and I love the idea--more details to come, I suspect.