Friday, July 19, 2019

Struggle Sweet Struggle - Our First Two Weeks as Homeowners


I didn't think that I'd be googling how to coil a hose or measuring Plast-O-Mats to size for kitchen cabinets right now.  In the span of two weeks, I've learned some fun facts: the tree of heaven is really the weed from hell, distant earthquakes can mess up your sprinkler system, laying down a tarp before staining a fence is a good preemptive measure, and keeping your grass green makes car maintenance seem like a piece of cake.


I must confess that there is a lot of unsexy stuff that goes into moving into a house that you bought.  It's not like starting a lease where you sign a contract with a definitive end, you've got definitive rules to follow, and you've got a landlord to call if something breaks.  The irreversible prospects and infinite list of things to do when it comes to owning a home is what scares me.  I knew that there would be a lot of repairs because we did buy a house that is nearly a century old, but I didn't see certain emotions coming.  Homesickness, frustration, helplessness, and self-inflicted pressure, all descended upon me after the glow of the first two days faded.  It was wonderful to drive up the long driveway and stare across the front yard for a little while, but then the driveway starts filling with fallen leaves and the yard begins turning an embarrassing shade of yellow.  Things that came up in our inspection report started to creep into my mind and scare me, like those cracks in our foundation, our outdated electrical box, and the roots intruding our pipes.  I wondered if that musty smell emitted by the crawl space would ever go away, and we discovered that there was a dead cat down there with mounds and mounds of its dried up excrement.  Then, the breaking point for me was when I realized that all of the numerous "bushes" in the front were really hugely overgrown invasive weeds (the "tree of heaven" that I mentioned) that were too hard to remove by myself.  There were even more of these weeds throughout the yard (and ugh, are those rotten orange remnants?), and you'd be shocked too about the random shit that I dug up from the ground while weeding - one of them was a really huge bone... The thought of ever gardening back here was literally disgusting.



Rewind to about two months ago, when we first laid eyes on this house.  We were on our way home (to the apartment) from dinner or something when Wes told me that he wanted to swing by a house that he had been eyeing on Redfin.  I shrugged, sure.  We drove over as the sun was setting and parked on the street in front.  Our first reaction was our astonishment at the size of the front yard, the big tree with trailing leaves, and how deep everything went back.  I remember thinking, wow, that's pretty ideal.  Little did we know that we'd be the lucky ones in escrow a few weeks later, after watching it go from open, to pending, then back on the market, and finally pending again, but this time it was pending to us.  I think back to that moment to remind myself that this was truly what we wanted.  I admit that I let all of the appreciation and excitement fade away when we started to unpack and focus our energies on learning the ropes of homeownership.

I went from not understanding what anything was at a hardware store to being more or less comfortable with its industrial-like aisles.  As of now, I think we've been to three different Home Depots at all hours of the day, to buy "essential" things like a string trimmer (they were running a good deal on it), a huge leaf blower (his brother got him hooked), a paint sprayer (because we realized that using a paintbrush to stain over 200 feet of fence was not wise), multi-purpose home insecticide (with the fun spray gun attached), Nature's Miracle (cat...shit...).  We are also now frequent customers of the Container Store, Ace Hardware, and OfferUp (you know it).  Advertisements that appeared on my Instagram seemed to transform overnight from trails and trees to rugs and pillows.  I'm not even kidding.  The whole idea of "splurging" skyrocketed to a new level--the fact that everything we buy must have permanent value makes it fun to entertain really nice things, but also it's a lot of pressure to make a final decision that you can't go back on.  And if you know me, you know I can't stand that.

In addition to the stress of endless spending and feeling like life as we knew it had slipped through my fingers, I felt (and still feel) very incompetent and pretty much like an imposter with all of this homeownership stuff.  Who am I anymore??  I went from being sure of my abilities and always having a plan to second guessing everything, and worst of all, comparing myself to my star of a husband, Wes.  I have to say that he is just kicking ass at all of the lawncare, large appliance installment, repairing, burglar-proofing, window treating, etc... while I am mainly in charge of organizing and handling things that a middle-schooler could probably do.  I find myself wondering if I am contributing enough and doubting my intelligence and worth.  It's sad, however, I do feel that it's important to go through times like these in life.  As I approach my 30th birthday soon, I am grateful for this opportunity to reexamine myself and grow from this discomfort.  As much as I would like to fast-forward through all of this tension and state of limbo, I am starting to think that there is no better way to spend the final months of my twenties.  It's still a work in progress, but as the house develops, so do I.  As Wes always says, "Stop being so hard on yourself."

With that being said, I am so unbelievably proud of Wes, who has taken on any project with genuine devotion and with a burning desire to get it done right.  This guy never cut corners to begin with, so I'm not surprised, but I still am very impressed with his skill, resourcefulness, patience, efficiency, and willingness to jump into the unknown.  And on top of that, he never expects any help or acknowledgment.  I bet this paragraph is making him cringe, so I'll stop.


Here are some tidbits that we captured (on our phones) of our first two weeks as homeowners!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dear Apartment, We'll Miss You

This was the photo of us that we used on our initial offer letter to the seller of our new house.  Wes dug it up from one of our Fourth of July family barbecues that we hosted, a Wong/Chiu family tradition that we started right here in our apartment.  We thought that this picture, if not a little silly, captured us for who we were, and showed the seller that we would use and love the house well.  I think it worked!


Now with the big move (and major "adulting") on the horizon, it is with a bittersweet sentiment that I write this ode to our first home.  With every change comes mixed emotions.  Moving out is sad, but we are so thankful to this apartment for everything that it had been for us, and looking forward to what's next.