I’ve made all my snobby pronouncements about how people waste time on the internet: too much Facebook, too much Twitter, too much Angry Birds, etc. I can sit on my high horse and make those comments because I’m rarely spending time on them. Checking in on Facebook once a day hardly takes over my life, and I’m not on Twitter at all. I’ve even (gasp!!) never actually played Angry Birds. Maybe if I did I’d really like it…..but I haven’t bothered to try it yet.
So now I’ll ‘fess up to how I waste my time online. (And I can really, really waste some time with this.)
I look at houses.
It started out of necessity: every time we’d move and be, literally, house shopping, I’d hop online and look at houses; sorting which might be a possibility and which we could rule out. Even after a move, though, and even now when we’re done moving (knock on wood), I love to look at houses. When I’m driving the kids to school, or coming home from the grocery store, seeing a new “For Sale” sign in a yard prompts an immediate thought of Oh! I’ll have to look that one up! The Realtor.com app on my phone should be disabled, and instead I downloaded another local real estate app. (Because some listings have more photos, that’s why.) I can spend an embarrassingly long time scrolling through “Nearby Homes For Sale.” When it was a hundred degrees last summer, I humored myself by looking at houses in Maine.
I have absolutely no pangs of discontent as I look; I’m not dealing with envy or jealousy, or frustration with our own home. (I like this house so much that my response might be something like, that’s a cool house, but I’d rather have mine.) I’m not desiring “more” or “better.” I just like to look at houses.
What’s fun, on occasion, is to pull the map over to where our first home was; to zoom in on our old neighborhood and click to see homes for sale. Looking through those photos, all those little identical ranch homes…it really does take me back to where we were, years ago. And I’m torn about the change in our standard of living.
Our first house had three bedrooms and one bath, which would have provided our (then non-existent) kids with their own bedrooms; though I suppose one bath could have made for some occasional discomfort. It had a living room and a nice-sized eat-in kitchen and a one-car garage. Laundry hook-ups were in the kitchen. What more, really, even now, do we need? Admittedly, jobs dictated moves, but I wonder if we’d stayed in that town how long we could have lasted in that home; how long we could have made do with what we had and made it work–probably pretty well, actually. At what point would we have been crowded and uncomfortable, with two kids in that little house? Would we have just sent them outside more often? At what point would I have been completely frustrated with a one-car garage? When would I have decided that huddling in a hallway listening to tornado sirens wasn’t enough, and I wanted a basement, now? I truly don’t think we would have stayed there forever.
My husband actually mentioned our first home recently (commenting that we would have had that house paid off by now), and I asked him if he thought we would have stayed put, if jobs hadn’t interfered. He smiled and pointed out that I would have found some classic Craftsman bungalow closer to “downtown” and we would have ended up there instead. (Sigh. So true.)
I look around three moves later, though, to see the accumulation of the fourteen years of stuff after that first house, stuff that has grown and expanded to fill the space offered, and I do wonder how to get back to what we need. To peel back the layers of excess and get down to the basic needs of running a home. Not a bare, spartan home, but not an extravagant home, either: a comfortable, peaceful home, where people have what they need and aren’t buried by any more.