What I learned about myself when I bought a house

An example of the kind of thoughtful interior design I am unable to do.
An example of the kind of thoughtful interior design I am unable to do.

Jessica and I bought a house, right here in Fort Worth, our adopted hometown of the last 13 years.

A homeowner. It just sounds good to me. Standing next to the gas grill in the backyard, cooking up some tasty fajitas? Some people never want to be that boring ol’ guy. I could be that boring ol’ guy. Heck, I’d feel honored to be that boring ol’ guy.

Our house was built in 1954, when Texas was transitioning out of its role as a bigger version of Mississippi and into its role as a smaller version of the Book of Revelation. In between then and now, it’s had some owners who took very good care of it, including the owner before us, who remodeled the entire house and retrofitted it with new windows, appliances, countertops, pipes, an electric box and lots of other random things you never think about until they break at 2 a.m. The house is a midcentury rambler/ranch-style gem I like to call La Casa Blanca, which loosely translates into “The People Who Don’t Know How to Take Care of Their Yard.”

Buying a house was a big step for Jess and I, who have spent the last decade dwelling in studios and efficiencies and duplexes in an effort to “live within our means” during the “new economy,” which is another way to say “we didn’t have any money with which to buy a house.” It took a few false starts and missed bids, by which time our Realtor was probably ready to drive us out to a dark corner of West Texas and push us out, but we made it through the buying process without getting divorced or signing a really stupid lease (as far as we know).

The change seems to have affected our cat, Toby, little to none.
The change seems to have affected our cat, Toby, little to none.

Of course, earnest young couples have been buying houses since the dawn of time. Well, back then it was caves, which have great foundations and bad ambient lighting. Recent archaeological discoveries have actually found that the first cavemen drew on walls because they were sick of trying to hang framed art. Unfortunately, eager to move on and advance civilization, these early couples sold their caves to wander around nomadically (this is now known as the Suburban Period), which is a shame, because the value of these prehistoric fixer-upper caves have only gone up in value in the last few million years, largely because of their granite floors and countertops and walls and ceilings (and stainless steel appliances, which the cave people didn’t know how to clean, either).

Well, he did get this box, which he either likes or hates. I can't tell.
Well, he did get this box, which he either likes or hates. I can’t tell.

But anyway, back to our house — I read this saying online: The first year you buy a house, you think it’s going to be a pile of rubble every time you drive home. The second year, you hope it’s going to be a pile of rubble every time you drive home. The third year, it’s a pile of rubble when you drive home.

I’ve spent the last six months worrying about every bump, jostle and chip in the house, convinced I’m about to lose every dime I ever had and that I’m a colossal dummy for even attempting to buy and maintain a home, which, of course, I am. I’ve killed two agave plants, a lot of good grass, made some unfortunate holes in the wall (I’ll patch those later), scalped part of my lawn (unintentionally) and generally learned literally every lesson I could possibly learn the only way I know how.

That way is the hard way. Jessica and I will not replace Chip and Joanna anytime soon.

That being said, I’ve learned three things:

1. Relax. You can’t do it all at once.
2. I am relaxed. You relax.
3. I’m just going to go straighten one thing.
4. That thing is now gushing water. What do I do?
5. Well, don’t just stand there, go turn it off!

Fortunately, all my mistakes have been fixable, and I am blessed to be married to a smart, patient intelligent woman who also happens to be a registered interior designer with basic house knowledge. A registered interior designer, of course, is someone who has passed a test whereby which she can (a.) identify a $100 throw pillow from two other, similar, lesser-priced throw pillows (b.) buy five of said throw pillows.

I would complain about this if it weren’t for the fact that my home improvement disaster bill has hit the point that I am hiding trips to Home Depot like a wantonly dependent drug addict. I’m told this is normal behavior. I’ve watched a lot of “Ask This Old House,” from which I’ve determined that the parts they show you of any given project are about :000004 seconds of it, and the part they cut over is about two weeks and will eventually be fixed by a professional.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be back in a second. I just want to figure out what that rattle is in the attic.

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Darren

Darren White is the Darren in Hey Darren. He lives in Fort Worth and likes music.