Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Become a Grownup

Megan texted me and told me to show up at some address on Monday at 4:00. I didn't really know what would be happening but that was more or less par for the course in this process. Buying a home is as confusing as insurance, as stressful as talking someone off a ledge, as unsettling as getting lost at the grocery store as a child, and as intimidating as starting a new job. ALL AT ONCE.

I arrived at 4:00. Some people sat around a small table with me while a man handed me one paper at a time and told me to sign and initial in a thousand places. It felt like an assembly line. Except instead of making trinkets, we were signing my life away and becoming significantly poorer.

I'm told I'm supposed to stop saying that. That I'm not becoming "poorer." I'm just transferring my assets and "investing." I put "investing" in quotes because I'm not convinced that's a real word. I don't think I've lived long enough to believe in it yet.

We rapidly dove through the documents, page by page, until the last sheet of paper was turned. I planted my John Hancock on it and the man stuck out his hand and informed me that I was now a homeowner.


Home. Owner. 

A person who owns a home. A home where a thousand things can go wrong. A place that will forever have my name etched below it in the history books as the next guy to whom the property belonged. A residence my bitter spirit will one day haunt when the future owners park their hovercrafts right over the spot where I planted my precious rose bushes.

I walked out of there and climbed back into my car. 

It was strange. Stranger than I ever anticipated.

I'm 30. I've seen a lot of the world. I've moved to developing countries. I've had my share of complicated relationships. Completed college and law school. Tried cases in courtrooms. Advised on very heavy subject matter in a number of capacities, mostly as a lawyer.

But this was the first time I had ever really, truly, felt like a grownup. 

I now owned a home. Those people sitting around that small table--they were there for me. Multiple professionals gathered in one location because I, Eli McCann, needed to sign a pile of legal documents so I could have exclusive access to an entire house and property. 

Because I was buying a home.

I drove away from there, realizing that one of the most significant events of my entire life had just taken place. And yet, I was heading back to my office so I could finish reviewing some contract for a client about installing storm water drain sumps on their property. I would do that, and then I would head back to my quiet Rebecca-less apartment to spend the rest of my evening packing the evidence of my life into large boxes to later take over to my new home.

There were conflicting feelings as I drove away. Gratitude that I'm able to take this big step and make this home purchase happen. Anxiety over all the work it will entail and the unknowns that might become knowns at any given point. Excitement that I will now have the opportunity to make a place I like a home I'll love

But if I'm being honest, and I hope this privileged whining does come across as too privileged or too whiny, overriding all of those conflicting emotions to a degree was a profound loneliness. A feeling of loneliness I absolutely had not anticipated. 

It was very apparent to me as I drove away that this big huge purchase, the purchase that most people plan for and dream of for many years, is one that I never thought I would be doing all alone. 

I wandered to the house today to pick up the keys and do some cleaning. My movements echoed off of the empty floors and walls. It was beautiful in there. And quiet. And empty. 

I surveyed the work to be done and the furniture to be purchased. I tested the locks and light switches. I coerced myself into wandering into the creepiest parts of the 1925 basement and successfully convinced myself that there were no ghosts down there. 

And then after a while, I lay on the bedroom floor, staring up at the ceiling, emotionally exhausted from a long couple of months of house-hunting, negotiating, document gathering, etc., all while attempting to maintain my other life obligations, including a very demanding full-time job.

And I wasn't sad. And I wasn't happy. Not relieved. Not anxious. 

I was just content. Content that I live a life, like everyone else, that isn't linear. It can't be summed up in terms of steps forward and backwards. It's multifaceted and complex on each plane. And there will never be a time where phenomenally wonderful achievements and milestones are not simultaneous with failings and disappointment. No success will ever happen while everything else is perfect. 

And that's not a bad thing. Or, rather, it's not productive to think of it as a bad thing.

The complexity of varied and simultaneous happenings gives depth and flavor to our experiences that make all of them so much more meaningful than they ever could be if they happened in a vacuum. We understand and praise accomplishments only in the context of the hardships that sought to prevent them. We implicitly admire the character of the perseverant more than the naturally talented, even if the naturally talented are sometimes more fun to watch. And sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is only an achievement because of all the imperfection that befell the day before.

So I'll take my potpourri of emotions this week. And I'll respect them. Because they reflect my life and my experiences. Experiences that have made me who I am so far and have helped me interpret the world. 

By golly. I'm a homeowner.

~It Just Gets Stranger 


  1. Congratulations Eli, that is a massive step and indeed very grown up. And yes, you are justified to feel lonely, but enjoy the peace and quiet and tidiness for now, for the day will come when havoc reigns and you will long for the days when it was just you living in your solitude.

  2. Couldn't be more proud. You've gone through a lot; ups, downs. upside-downs, and everything in between. It's been a privilege to experience those twists and turns with you and, personally, I look forward to the many more unknowns ahead of us. Stranger may just been a "silly blog" to some, but it's also a community. A community of friends who, though we may not know each other personally, are able to coexist and support and reinforce and back up and call out on crap and shamelessly advertise and rant about stupidity and mistakes and the stupidity that brought on mistakes. It's better than any support group I've ever found. Eli, you own a home and until you're able to fill it with fancy new furniture and cats and cats and cats and cats and cats, fill it with Stranger. (not with strangers.. that will take up too much room and the cats need their space). We support you. We love you and your magnificent hair. Paul Simon would be proud. twice up the barrel, once down the side.

    1. I love this, and agree wholeheartedly. Just think, Eli. You can crank up the spice girls and slide across those hardwood floors I saw on Instagram. It'll be very Risky Business. But with a Snuggie. And no call girls. Congrats on the house!

    2. Thanks for letting us know about the instagram shots. Checked them out really quick. Love the hardwoods and those bookshelves.

  3. Congratualations! Honestly, my thought in reading this was: "Thank goodness the poor guy doesn't have to pack up his things and move anymore" Because, I feel like you have done an awful lot of packing up of your things, and hauling them around to various places. It all seems so exhausting. May this home bring you peace, contentment, and lots of wonderful memories. It's sort of like your own chapter int he history book of that house to write in. Make your chapter count!

  4. Good job ol' boy. Congratulations. Take some before and after pictures for us. Especially if you do any renovating. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see what you do with the place.

  5. This *precisely* sums up how I have felt about my move to San Diego. Thank you.

  6. And now you can add to your collection of lamps!

  7. Just think of all the storage space for your Snuggies and your Queen of Colors-themed housewares.

  8. Congrats!! Can't wait to see photos and then if I ever happen to drive past it, I'll honk and wave. :)

  9. This is sort of similar to my feeling when I got one of my first paychecks as an engineer. I was thinking, "What are they doing!?! They are paying me to wander around, tell people what to do, make up stuff, play with spreadsheets, and generally guess?!? I'm just making it up as I go!!!" Then I realized, "Oh, so is everyone else..."

  10. There are no adults, really. No one is grown up. There are, however, some really boring people out there who we THINK of as adults. Cause dull. Then there's the rest of us wandering around doing life in whatever way we can. Congratulations! (Cause that's what us fake adults say when someone buys a house).

  11. Congratulations on buying your very own house!

    I totally get what you're saying, though, about doing it all alone. But it's still so exciting!

  12. Does this mean you will finally come and get the rest if your stuff frim my house!? Hip hip hooray!! :) :)
    Cathie xoxoxoXO

    PS.....very very good post. Congratulations! Exciting! "So I'll take my potpourri of experiences this week and I'll respect them."

    1. "of" and "from". Sheesh! Good night nurse!

  13. Congratulations!! How exciting!

    Are you going to get any pets??? :)

  14. Our toilet started leaking...we turned the water off to it and use the half-bath for a solid month before even trying to fix it. Good luck!!

    Also, now you can adopt our foster dog! (more pictures)

  15. This is beautiful:

    "The complexity of varied and simultaneous happenings gives depth and flavor to our experiences that make all of them so much more meaningful than they ever could be if they happened in a vacuum. We understand and praise accomplishments only in the context of the hardships that sought to prevent them. We implicitly admire the character of the perseverant more than the naturally talented, even if the naturally talented are sometimes more fun to watch. And sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is only an achievement because of all the imperfection that befell the day before."

    Thank you for this.

  16. Congratulations! What a wonderful thing you could do for yourself. Wishing you many many happy memories in your new home!!!

  17. I bought my own home, a townhouse, a few years back when I was single. It was confusing and a little scary doing it on my own, but I learned so much about the process and my finances and then about home maintenance! Apparently I lived a pretty sheltered life before so even paying multiple utility bills was a learning experience for me. Plus I was able to set up my own house just how I liked it, and sit around without pants on whenever I wanted, and try new recipes in my own kitchen that, if they sucked, I just threw away and nobody ever had to know. And I learned how to fix things around my house (well, small things... let's be honest, there's a reason plumbers exist) and I even planted a garden! Oh and I got a dog who is my best buddy and we sat around pantsless watching tv and reading. It was so great! Now I am married and my husband and I bought a house together, and it was special all over again because it was our first house as a couple. It doesn't take anything away from buying my own house on my own! It just means that I have to compromise and try harder not to set the kitchen on fire and give him some closet space and wear pants more often. =)

    As far as feeling like an adult, now I am pregnant, and it occasionally hits me that OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO BE TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LIFE OF ANOTHER HUMAN and then I get very scared and have to call my own mom to reassure myself that even if legally I am an adult, I am not the most adult-est of adults and someone else will still help take of me!

    I am rambling now. My point was, congratulations on your house, and enjoy it!!!

  18. I'm glad I'm a few days late in reading this, because my comment correcting your grammar won't be as big a deal for all of the Happy Strangers out there who are So Happy in their Congratulations on your Growing-Up-ness, Eli! (BTW, Congrats on your Growing-Up-ness, Eli! - I remember with fondness the purchase of my first {well, only} home.)

    As for the grammar, this was a beautiful and eloquent post. I think you meant "plane" in this phrase, though: "It's multifaceted and complex on each plain." That is all. Nice hair today!