After 12 years of signing leases for apartments, I took a more permanent step in placing my signature on a mortgage for a term of 30 years in July. 30 years is a lot of time, considering it is equal to my entire lifespan. Prior to this, I never entered into a contractual obligation for more than a year. Annually, in August it was the same routine: scavenge for cardboard boxes and fit the contents of my life in friend’s trucks or U-Hauls. It was humbling to know that a life, my life, could be condensed to a number of mislabeled boxes which could be transported to any place of my desire. The truth is each destination, especially in Terre Haute, was never more than a span of four blocks. The lack of permanence presented an array of possibilities and was in itself liberating. But absolute freedom can sometimes be in itself suffocating.
After moving back to Linton in 2014 the thought of buying a house began to arise, like an annoying game of whack-a-mole. Every time it would pop up, I would immediately suppress it, considering the thought irrational or too impulsive. But with my suppression, that ugly mole would once more rear its head and thumb his nose at me. I’ve often thought most of us have a more distorted sense of self than what actually is the truth. I considered myself more of a vagrant soul whose home is where he makes it. Looking back, that was a bloated self-deception at best. The truth is the years of uncertainty of where I was going to live and what I was going to do have taken a visible toll on me. Not in the sense of any outward ailments, but more of an internal weariness.
The idea of owning a home festered in my mind until it came to boil, and released its steam for better or worse to receptive ears. One evening after work, I was having dinner at my parent’s house. I can’t remember the phrasing of my words, but essentially I relayed to my mother that it may be beneficial to buy a home, because my small apartment could no longer house all of my paraphernalia of my hobbies (see interior of my house for number of guitars collected within the last six months). For those who don’t know my mother I will describe her as such: She has the mind of a librarian and the drive of lawyer wading through precedent. In short, she revels in research. I also failed to remember the essential facet of her personality: Her zealous love of home improvement (and no, not the 90s television epic of my youth) . She’s an HGTV fanatic, and I state fanatic knowing full well the intent of the word.
For the next two and half months, every evening I went to my parent’s house my mom would be reclined on the couch, her iPad clutched in her hand and would beckon me towards her, “Grant, hey, you know I saw this house and…I know this may be out of your price range but look at…with a little investment we could easily rip out…replace…just (insert value) thousand and look at how much nicer that would look.” Generally her statements would follow this stream of conscious thread. I thought I may have made a mistake.
But one realtor and a couple of offers later, I stood holding the keys of my new house. If there is any memory I will hold with me the rest of life it would be during the signing. After I signed the paperwork that transferred over the property into my name, I held the pen tightly in my hand. As I slowly moved the pen from the table my father asked me, “What are you doing.”
“I’m keeping it.”
“What? The pen? It is not like you are signing some form of historic legislation.”
“I just spent the most money in my life by signing these papers. Now, I’m keeping this because either I will look back on it fondly in the years to come, or it will give me something to look at while I drink.”
Thankfully they didn’t charge me for the pen.