may, 2011

Fri, 13 May 2011 17:19:02 -0700

I sat next to Mamie on a full shuttle yesterday, and before we turned to our respective newspaper-reading and work-emailing, she inquired breathlessly about my new house. I eagerly showed her the pictures of it I've synced to my phone, carrying them around in my digital wallet like others might snapshots of their kids; she cooed over its pretty Victorian façade, its original 1885 Douglas-fir floors, its wide living-cum-dining room, its spiral staircase. "I bet it feels really validating to be buying a place all by yourself," she commented. Bingo.

The immediate appeal is obvious to everyone: The latitude to paint every surface (there will be no beige in my house!), invest in some proper grown-up furniture, mirror the wall of my walk-in closet. And sure, it's an investment, and I'll be locking in my cost of housing for as long as I care to stay put. All definitely good reasons.

But the fuzzier aspects are dawning on me more slowly than are visions of designer wallpaper: Not only am I committing to a city I so obviously love, in which I so obviously belong, but I'm doing it by myself -- no parents, husband, nor fiancé needed to co-sign, thank you. And yet it feels like as big a step as any marriage. Weddings are easy to celebrate, are a well-accepted societal milestone; and houses are something you're supposed to buy as a couple. I'm doing this out of order, but I don't care -- I can, and I want to. Do my friends understand the extent to which I'm actually donning a white dress, here?

I find myself surprised by the accompanying emotions around this process. I'm having anxiety dreams about the house, in which it burns down and my agent is left sadly shaking his head among the beautifully-wallpapered rubble; I'm mentally feeling around and making sure I'm doing the right thing, life-step-wise -- does the fact that I had more excellent intellectual conversations at Emily's 30th birthday dinner party in Boston last weekend than I've had here in an entire year mean I'm in the wrong city? (No, this city's other benefits far outweigh Boston's, and Emily took three unhappy years there to find that community.) Did the undergrads at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music performing last night alongside my choir in a master's composition recital convince me that I should be spending my money and time on a stated long-time goal of doing something bad-ass with my viola, rather than singing adequately with a good-enough choir and doing something merely competently (it still feels like that, despite promotions and feedback to the contrary) as an SRE? (No, though the old twinge was not fully absent.)

No and no, as the parentheticals say -- I'm settling down, not settling -- but still, in the same way I started scrutinizing every café, cornice, and corner store when I began to look in earnest for a house, now I'm trying to honestly turn over every stone in my mind, to see what relevant beetles may live beneath.

I'm pretty damn sure I'm making a great move, here. Anyone reading this blog already knows there's no place I'd rather be; and as for the music, well, I'll just have to buy a piano and host salons in my living room. And taking this step out of order though I may be, the upside is that I have no one's preferences but my own to accommodate. Future husband: I do not apologize for having painted the bathroom pink.

all this Šnori heikkinen, May 2011

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