2003 – The Year of House, Wife, Car & Baby

Here’s another post from the vault. As I look forward to selling the house we’ve lived in for 9 years and moving to another phase of life with the family, I’m getting nostalgic for when we moved here. This is the shot of the front. Yes that’s a turret with rounded-glass windows. Its just as charming inside. Its a dream house, just in a run-down neighborhood and town that we’ve outgrown.

July 7, 2003

I sat my fattening ass down to get caught up here, and it turns out that today is the one year anniversary of this journal. I have averaged about two entries per month – which is good enough. I have also grown up some, and can discern this if I read through the entire year at once. I also realize that, however few others around the world read this (though I suspect there are at least a dozen and a half or so out there) this will be a great legacy to leave for my SON/DAUGHTER – who is due around February 15. My wife loves too-cute, snob names like ‘Eli’ and ‘Ethan’ and ‘Elijah’, or ‘Noah’, or ‘Abigail’, or ‘Eva’. I’ll vomit out my left lung before I allow any of those. I don’t mind ‘Eli’ short for ‘Elliot’, though Rhonda can’t seem to get it into her head that familiar names are usually abbreviations of more humdrum – and, yes – conservative names. Maybe we’ll do like my brother, and decide we like the dog’s name so much (Jack) that we’ll hand it down to the boy and just start calling the dog ‘Butch’ – he was too dumb to know any different anyway. I think they would’ve named the boy Jack-short-for-John, except that they would’ve still called him Jack, and two Jacks in the house would be potentially traumatizing for the little guy (Butch, that is). So – how does ‘Kitty’ sound?

The house we purchased on May 15 is big and definitely propels us a few rungs higher up the middle class ladder. Its an 1865 early Victorian-style home with a round turret corner, thin-cut parquet flooring, two fireplaces lined with glazed tile and an iron ‘cherub’ lamp perched on the stair railing. Its in Rockland, MA – a straight-up working class town, with a history in shoe manufacturing, now with a Home Depot, Blue Cross offices, a couple housing projects, and the kickass-est liquor megastore in Southeast Massachusetts – right down the street. People drive down from New Hampshire to shop there. They have every conceivable imported Belgian and German ale, cheap. Heaven.

Our street, Union, is the so-called historic street, with dozens of Federalist and Victorians, but mostly in a state of bastardization, primarily because the housing boom has not boomed hard enough to incentivize landlords to reconvert all their Painted Lady-cum-vinyl-sided boarding houses into Boston-commuter, This Old House-type, yuppie-wet-dream houses – much less to induce the yuppies to buy on noisy, motorcycle-ridden Union Street. Our place is a bright exception. It was bought up by the funeral home across the street in 1987 to tear down for a parking lot, though the local Housing Commission raised a stink, and a woman named Faith stepped in with a $1 offer to move it off the lot. She owned the multi-unit house directly across Union, which had a 1 acre-deep wood behind it. She cleared a lot in the wood, poured a concrete foundation, and moved the house whole-hog up the little hill, adding an updated (by 1987 standards) kitchen and finishing the attached carriage house as a one-bedrom in-law apartment. The only casualty of the move was the copper spire on top of the turret. It sits in the basement, and when I’m done with the arduous job of restoring and painting the exterior, I’ll ceremoniously recap it. Among the warm-ups for the painting marathon was roto-tilling the “backyard” into shape, sawing off the weeds of Maple saplings, and chipping up all the wood slag.

So how much? Everyone always wants to know. I’m not saying, because the mental obsession middle class people have with real estate and home owning, and their irresistable urge to ask ‘how much?’, and to offer ‘this much!’ even when they’re not asked – we’ll, I think its tacky. You could call that a snobby notion, but I think its genuinely polite not to risk offending someone who has less than you – or making someone who has more feel embarrased. And any habit, even one bordering on taboo, that helps people concentrate – in coversation at least – on what’s really essential in life – like the weather, and children, and happiness, and not money – is good. One of the fortunate traits I picked up from my father was to eschew yakking about money and stuff, although in this respect I think he’s let himself go late in life – perhaps he thinks I’m mature enough now to be bored without my consent. One bit regarding finances: the rental unit enables us to live in this style, which we would otherwise be unable to afford. That’s all you get.