Monday, September 13, 2010

It Doesn't Change a Thing, But Even So...

This morning, my husband and I went to the lawyer’s office and finalized refinancing our house. As part of the refi, we added my name to both the mortgage and the deed. And after signing our names and initials all over a stack of paperwork the size of a small Buick, I am officially a homeowner!

In almost every practical sense, nothing has changed. I don’t personally write a check for the mortgage payment every month. I don’t have any more (or less) say in any changes we want to make to the house. I don’t suddenly have different responsibilities for the upkeep of the house. But there’s something satisfying in knowing that, legally, I now own a home.

Owning a home seems like such a very adult thing to me. I grew up in a town where almost everyone lived in a house, rather than an apartment. Being a homeowner was just assumed: if you were an adult, particularly if you were married or had a family, you owned a house. It was part of a natural progression from childhood to adulthood: you go to college, you get a job, you buy a car, you get married, you buy a house, you have kids. There’s nothing innately immature about skipping any of those steps, but to me, those steps WERE the path to adulthood. So I went to college. I bought a car. I got a job. And then I stalled out on the getting married/buying a house/having kids thing. I thought a lot about buying a house, but somehow in my mind owning a house was too closely linked to getting married that I had a hard time thinking about doing one when I wasn’t planning to do the other. I even told myself it would be silly to buy a house because I’d just sell it when I got married and needed a bigger house. And then when I got married, he already had a house.

And this house has been my house in a very real sense, ever since we got married. One of our first projects right after we got back from our honeymoon was to completely redecorate our bedroom. I picked out the paint, we chose the furniture and the carpet together, and we did all the work ourselves, side by side. It was no less our house than it was our bedroom, even if his was the only name on the deed.

When I was pregnant, we worked together to design the nursery. Once again, we worked as a team to choose colors for paint and carpet, and to hang the chair rail. The room, and the house, were mine as surely as the baby I was carrying was mine.

And yet, having that piece of paper that says to everyone else that the house is mine takes it one step further. It’s like the difference between the day before your wedding and the day after: it’s the same commitment, it’s the same love, it’s the same devotion – but having formally and legally proclaimed it to all the world makes it just a little more special somehow.

As the song says, it doesn’t change a thing, but even so…it IS nice to know.

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