We bought a house, and with that came, unexpectedly, a new rush of pride in our own property.
Just a few weeks ago, while we were still renting, I was sitting with some friends, drinking wine and discussing some local politics in my old neighborhood. The table got a little…heated. I mentioned that it could take weeks, sometimes months, to get potholes covered. We dealt with flooding issues every summer, not because of rain, but because the sewers are not maintained. This lack of interest by the local government was hurting, not just me and mine, but my neighbors who came from lower income households who had no voice.
Every mention of an issue, my friend would ask if I called my mayor. Or my councilperson. Or my representative. When I said no, his face would burst open in a flabbergasted expression. We would talk about the issues, and I would state my opinion, and he would say “as a renter.” I was so offended.
And yet, as much as it pains me to admit, purchasing my own home, my own property, has completely shifted my mindset. No longer do I merely follow the local issues on Nextdoor or in Facebook groups. I’ve already marked my calendar for upcoming meetings with the neighborhood association. I’m researching my police precinct and other elected officials. In our old neighborhood, I left it to the homeowners because I assumed no one wanted to hear from renters – but I never pushed to make my voice heard either because the stakes were low for me. So, as loathe as I am to admit it, my friend was right.
Similarly, my mindset surrounding home maintenance has completely evolved. Please don’t get me wrong, we were great tenets.We kept the yard mowed, the house acceptably clean, we reported every issue, we tried to fix small effortless problems. But for the most part, I believed that the house belonged to the owner, and as such it was his responsibility to spend the hours patching holes, replacing ovens, remediating mold. And to be clear, the law agrees.
But since moving into our new home, I’ve found there’s even more to owning a house than these types of maintenance issues. My first two projects have little to do with immediate concerns, and everything to do with wanting to lovingly care for my home.
Our house-hunting occurred during mulberry season, apparently. We have several large mulberry trees lining our driveway, and overhanging the front steps. On the day of our tour, the trees seemed to have shed every berry in their leaves, and driveway, walkway, steps, and terrace were covered and almost completely black by them, having been squashed by the various prospective buyers and realtors. Much like moving into a rental property, I had assumed that the seller would clean the area prior to our closing. He did not. Our amazing realtor gifted us with a house cleaning prior to move-in, and again I assumed the berries would be taken care of. They were not.
On the day we moved in, I purchased a broom for the outdoors and tried to sweep the mulberry crust away, but they had been so trotted, squished, and hardened by the sun that this was a fruitless task.
So the weekend of July 4, we purchased a hose and scrub brush, and the day we returned from vacation, I got down on my hands and knees, dish soap and scrubber in hand, and cleaned my front steps.
It feels good. Our entrance is more welcoming, and I feel proud to have friends come over. I sweep it almost daily, and I love peeking out the window knowing how much more cheerful and inviting it looks now.
But that wasn’t enough! I also decided that as a homeowner, I need to garden. This is similar to Eric’s bizarrely new impulse to build things (more to come on that).
I decided that edible plants were the way to go, and not only that but seedlings might lead to better success in my first vegetation endeavor.
So I bought some tools.
And then I got to work. I did a little bit of reading about what might survive being planted in the middle of a Georgia July. Basil and rosemary seemed to be the winners. The rest will have to wait until fall or spring. (Hopefully my first experiments will still be alive by then.)
So I bought a basil plant, a rosemary plant, and some various types of potting soil.
Quick side tangent – I’m very lucky to be marrying a man who has a wonderful and generous family, including two sisters, at least one of whom has inherited her mother’s green thumb. This sister once gave me 7 pots of flowers to keep alive when she moved from her shotgun house with a front porch to a loft with no outdoor space. Apparently I was supposed to water them. So anyway, I have 7 pots now.
So I filled the pots with potting soil, watered the roots of the seedlings, and then buried them, and placed the pots on my front stairs. Apparently these plants need “full sun” or at least 6+ hours per day. The only place to get that is in the very front of my house, and not on the side of my house where there is a perfect patch of dirt next to the door by the kitchen just begging for a little garden. Best laid plans.
So here are my plants! I’m growing things! Hopefully I’m not killing things! It’s all very new and exciting.
And that is the story of my first adventures in home ownership.