I didn’t post last week because I was up to my neck in boxes as my spouse and I moved into our condo!
It was a long week of unpacking, organizing, and de-pesting (UGH!), but everything is more or less in order. We still have a few weekend warrior things to accomplish, like hanging paintings and fixing the loose faucet on the kitchen sink, and this makes us feel more like it’s our home. Since it’s a condo, we both feel like we’ve just moved to another apartment, but it’s definitely different—this time, we painted the walls, which is a big freaking deal! (Okay, we didn’t paint them ourselves, we paid someone who knew what they were doing to do it for us because we’re not handy like that.)
As I arranged our books on the rustic built-in shelves in the living room, a thought crossed my mind: My father never owned a home.
I racked my brain, going through all of the houses I remembered my dad living in, and I couldn’t recall one that he’d actually bought. I called my brother Al, who has an elephant-like memory, to see if I might have missed something.
“Nope, you’re right,” Al said. “He never owned anything. Except for some cars.”
My dad loved his cars, especially the light peach Cadillac he drove for most of my growing up. It was always his dream to own a Caddie because it held a measure of status. Imagine how thrilled he was when his new theme song, “It’s My Cadillac (Got That Bass),” came out in 1992.
But I was struck by the fact that my dad never owned a home. He went from house to house—never living in one for longer than three years—and from wife to wife—never staying married for longer than 10 years—never actually settling down. It made me sad for him because it reminded me that he never made anything of his life. I’m not saying that owning material things is the marker for well-being. But for my dad, it showed that he never cared to commit to building a life for anyone, not even himself.
The thing we love about cars is that they allow us to go one from point to another with minimal physical exertion. There’s so much freedom in hopping in a Cadillac and driving around winding country roads. But after a while, I wanted to go home, to sit down and rest a while in my own unmoving space.
Our condo means that I have jumped one more rung in the accomplishments ladder higher than my father ever did. Not just in the material sense of what home equity will do for my net worth (in the name of Jesus), but in the sense of stability, something that was always out of reach with my dad. Even if 2007 is repeated and DC’s housing bubble bursts (as it inevitably will), I will still have comfort knowing that I created a home for my spouse, my future children, and myself.