Pursue Happiness

A program on the radio that I've listened to recently featured several TED presentations related to happiness.  One of the speakers, Barry Schwartz, concluded that "the secret to happiness is lowering expectations."  Not a romantic notion, but difficult to refute, as I happily snuggle further into a city that I thought I would hate.  Another speaker featured on that same program  concluded that too much choice increases dissatisfaction and also increases paralysis.  My husband and I can support this theory; while we have long appreciated options presented by his work, we have also suspected that the buffet of possibilities before us made our heads spin and sometimes threw up distraction barriers as we labored to make a more definitive life plan.

However, whatever the methodology, I am thrilled to report happiness.  Inside my gut, bubbling in my heart, leaking out onto my face regularly.  We have made lists, done comparisons, laughed and cried and imagined, and finally, decided not to move home to Minnesota.  Decided to remain here, in Houston, in order to prevent having to be separated while he is at work.  Making a hard decision like that was tricky enough, but the the truth is that my effervescent fountain of happy welled up from what followed, as we certified the first decision with a concrete second one: I fell in love with, and we are in the process of buying, my first house.

I am a slow bloomer; many of my peers have already owned real estate in one form or another.  My interest in doing so was delayed for quite a long time, first by my limited new-teacher budget, and then by our endless household mobility.  But even without those limitations, I didn't really feel like buying a house.  I didn't want to be the owner of a furnace, or the keeper of a yard.  I was truly baffled by the assumption that all Americans want this.  Renting offers flexibility, and if you do it right, especially after the housing crash in recent years, renting can be just as financially responsible as owning.

Fast forward to last weekend, when I fell in love with a house.  It was a rapid-fire and impossible courtship, a little bit parallel to the one I experienced with my now-husband.  While there are great reasons for this house to be the right house for us right now, moving into it does offer a few significant challenges, mostly related to its diminutive size.  Regardless of the circumstances, which included fighting off other suitors, and shaking the tree pretty hard to secure short-notice financing, we managed to sign our purchase agreement, and the only cloud lingering over my little happiness party is the unlikely possibility of something interfering with our projected mid-September closing.

So last night, while working in my sewing room, I listened to the radio with renewed interest.  This is my home now.  When the membership drive starts, I will be available here, as a resident, to donate and  to volunteer.  When there is a neighborhood meeting, it will be in my interest to attend.  When the Texas Matters program came on, and the doctor being interviewed lamented the miserable condition of women's health care here, that became my problem, not someone else's problem.  Pretty soon, I can call my senators, sign up for my CSA, and plant my herbs in the ground instead of in pots.  To me, that is the magic of buying a house...the commitment made to the place, even to the very ground that you are standing on.

I have no idea how many years this will be home, but that's ok.  It is enough for now that very soon, we can stay somewhere that is our own.