Monday, October 27, 2008


Imagine how you'd feel if you had a dog that most people thought was ugly and did not refrain from telling you so, but that you loved and knew was your all-time perfect soul mate of a pet. That is how I feel about my house. I seriously believe that it was predestined that Jon and I and our kids would live in this house. I've lived in other places I liked, but the minute I walked through the door of this house, I knew it was mine.

I realize that most Americans consider less than ideal a house that has no closets in the bedrooms, no shower upstairs, no indoor access to the basement, no working doorbell, no "master suite" (vulgar term, anyway) no jacuzzi tub, no garage, no breakfast bar, no trash compacter, no pantry, no cathedral ceilings, no craft room, no game room, no more than seven linear feet of counter space and windows that need to be propped open with sticks. I don't care about those things. Not much, anyway. (It would be nice to have a shower on the second floor and not have to shlep my clothes downstairs every morning and my pajamas back upstairs after my shower. But I am used to that.) Actually, I like the inconveniences of my house. There's an expression: Pain builds character. So does having to adapt to your surroundings. Or having to don your cricket stomping boots every time you need make an expedition to the basement. I know none of my children will ever survey their college dorm and say, "What, no walk-in closet?"

Not that everybody hates my house. Some people love it. And it's not that I require everybody to love my house, but it would be nice if people who didn't like it kept that opinion to themselves. Over the years I've been wounded more than a few times by people who felt the need to tell me what a dump I live in. Admittedly we do have the shabbiest house on the block, but we are the only house on the block with four children, or indeed, any children. So, I am sensitive to criticism and we're expecting house guests this weekend--Jon's mother and sister-in-law and I'm worried how the sister-in-law will react to our house since she's never seen it. Not that she's a mean, hypercritical person. She's a fabulous, fun-loving sort of person, but she's from Buffalo, where even people of modest means live in nice houses, and people of more than modest means, like Jon's family, live in houses that few people in Charlottesville could aspire to. Because housing is cheap in Buffalo and it is expensive in Charlottesville. I think we did pretty well--at age 30 to have bought a 1600 square foot farmhouse within walking distance of downtown. That's lucky for this market, or for what the market was when we bought our house. But the Buffalo people come to visit and I sense that they feel we've let the side down, have dropped a notch (or several notches) on the social scale. I am bracing myself for the initial reaction. Once that's out of the way, I'm sure we'll have a great weekend.


  1. I've only bought two houses and both times, I walked in and knew instantly that it was the one we would be buying.

    I hope your visit goes well this weekend.

  2. We, too, hear and see the lack of enthusiasm for our small and less-than-perfect house because we live in a 1600 sq ft non-historic home that happens tobe nestled in the midst of half-million dollar plus homes. We have only recently stopped paying attention to those who are oddly disappointed with our living quarters. That's a seriously liberating moment when the love of home exceeds the nagging concern of what others think about it.

  3. I suggest hanging a banner from the front porch with "Welcome to Our Dump" on it as a preventative measure. :D

    We looked at about 25-30 houses before we saw ours and knew instantly that it was THE house for us. My mother thinks it's a dump, but she's living in a 1960s suburb that makes me queasy.

  4. You live in it. You're the only person whose opinion counts. Everyone else can just stick it.

    But I get why it hurts. What ever happened to "If you can't say anything nice..."? Jerks.

    Oh, and I've seen the pictures of your house that you've posted here and I think it has amazing character. And you obviously have amazing character too for recognizing its beauty and not needing all of the extra luxury creature comforts that so many people feel are necessities of life.