Two words when that come to mind when I wrap my warped mind around the concept of moving back into town: “vapor lock”.
We bought this house 5 years and 10 months ago, an excited and younger family, eager to get out of the suburbs and onto our 5 acres of the American Dream. It was a larger, kinda run down house with lots of, um, potential, but the real selling point for me was The Shop. 24′ x 80′, it was the ultimate man cave, built by the previous owner for his cabinet business. I owned a small excavating concern at the time, and although none of my equipment would fit INSIDE the shop, all the tools, beer fridge and other necessary manliness trappings would. 5 ACRES. I envisioned my boys on dirt bikes, I saw digging out a large pond that would freeze over in winter for some outdoor hockey, I pictured throwing big fall parties with a corn maze that I would create. I failed to look for the money tree that would fund all of these endeavors, but hey, when you’re dreaming, you can’t let a little thing like financial realities come crash the party.
As time and income would allow, we fixed up the things that needed it. The Dirtbag came out from the Northwest and we remodeled the former garage/family room into a fully functioning hair salon so that The Wife could work from home and the boys could come off the school bus to a home with at least one parent in it. I built things from salvaged barn wood in the shop, installed a stove and created a social haven for other off-duty firemen looking to escape their own homes. We half-built a garden that’s half the size of our former house. We have a guest room so that our out-of-town visitors aren’t fighting disgusting small boys for bed space or worse, toilet time.
Like the American Dream itself, though, it’s about the pursuit, not necessarily the arrival. The day arrived when the acquisition of more, bigger, greater wasn’t fulfilling anymore. It leaves a void, a void in which I was missing some vital aspects to being a father. Maybe smaller COULD better. Maybe I didn’t need as much.
I sold the business because I was never home, and it wasn’t worth the chump change I was able to claim as profit when my boys were growing up in my absence. I wanted to give writing a shot, even if only as a hobby. Then, the economy decided to jump the fiscal shark, and new realities really hit. We probably weren’t going to put in that swimming pool, much less a garage or a pond or a life-size re-creation of Mt. Rushmore in the back yard. And, like many people these days, we were asking “do we really need all this stuff, all this space, all those weeds?” We don’t. Mowing through the summer in Missouri equates to trying to drain a swamp with a shop-vac, humidity included.
“Let’s move back into town!” I boldly declared. My family looked at me like I just informed them that I was having recreational sex with feral cats. It took a while, but I sold the idea. Mostly, I sold it by telling them that we’re doing it. But she saw that we were spending all of our time in town anyways, that it doesn’t take a 1,920 square foot shop to house a laptop for writing, that she missed the social interaction of business in a salon. It was decided. We contacted a reputable Realtor, who guided us through the steps it’s gonna take to maybe, barely, hopefully break somewhat even on our house after all this time and money spent on improvements. We know what neighborhood we want to live in, what sort of tile & carpentry work I have to do get our house ready to put on the market, how to purge all of my hoarded treasures that are living in my shop.
I want to do this. She wants to do this. The boys could care less.
So why am I vapor locked when it comes to getting the house on the market?
I think it may be a mix of lamenting emotion, trepidation at the unknown and abject laziness. My boys have begun to grow up in this house, the only one they remember. It’s nice to have my own bathroom, whereas the historic old bungalows we’re looking at in town mandate that we’ll probably all be lucky to crawl into an old water heater for family bath times. I like that, on the rare occasions when the weather isn’t similar to either Vietnam in summer or Hoth in winter, my boys can go tearing around chasing each other with lightsabers, screaming at the top of their lungs to no one in particular. I like interacting with her clients in the salon, where I can get salacious and worthless details about people I don’t even know.
But it’s time.
Time to move on. Time to get out from behind the financial 8-Ball. Time to accept that without an excavating company to house, 5 acres just translates into a lot of mowing. I have no desire to become a hobby farmer. I would prefer to be a hobby coffee-and-bullshit consumer. Rural living has it’s benefits, not including some of the redneck mindset that my neighbors have (although I will miss trying to understand how one of them truly believes that a Kansas-born African American man as President is a sign of the impending terrorist apocalypse).
Home is a state of mind, and this one has been good to us. Hopefully, this vapor lock will pass, I’ll get off my rump and do what needs to be done, and we can begin our slow shuffle into town. And the memories? We’ll take those with us into town and start making new history.