No house that built me

My parents finally bought a house! 

You may think big deal, everyone buys a house at some point in their lives. But what you don’t know is that my parents are in their 50’s and just now, for the first time, became home owners, so this is revolutionary! It has been a long and challenging path to this point but now they have embarked on the lovely road of responsibility that is carried with the traditional American Dream. Except without the white picket fence. 

Homeownership has been a crucial component of the American Dream since the 1950’s, and even 70 years later, it is considered a grand investment because it allows you to accumulate wealth that can be passed on to your children. However, not everyone can be as lucky to have the ability to afford a property investment and immigrants are especially vulnerable to economic disadvantages hindering them from big ticket purchases. 

For as long as I have been able to create memories, we have always been living on someone else’s turf, whether it was a 3-story house or a 2-bedroom apartment. In my 29 years of existence, I have moved 17 times, excluding moving in and out of the college dorm. My parents’ statistics are similar and owning a home has been a pinnacle of their journey in the United States, so I am ecstatic and proud that they reached the point of maturity in their relatively short time here to have the ability to make a dent in the real estate market. 

So, what exactly is it about a house that makes it a home? 

I have lived in many places and while initially each one seemed cold and foreign, over time, the spaces became familiar, almost a sanctuary, where I loved coming back after time spent away. Maybe because they were places that stored my belongings, maybe because they were places in which I created beautiful, lasting memories, or maybe because my family was always there (I didn’t really move out until 28 years of age #FailedMillennial – good thing I love my family though!). Either way, I didn’t realize until recently that the bonds I have created with those residences were powerful, with each one bringing me back to a certain time in my life. 

Frequent moving has both its attributes and flaws. While starting somewhere anew may be exciting and refreshing, providing a clean slate, the problem with frequent moving is that is creates a certain dynamic and mindset in life that nothing is permanent (omitting the spiritual debate entirely on this one). I met tens of people in each place I lived, but none of the connections were rooted in joint history, therefore many of those relationships fizzled out over time. I reached a point in my romantic life where it was difficult for me to connect with a potential partner, because in the back of my mind, I didn’t believe that I could develop and maintain a close long-term relationship with a single person, who is allegedly supposed to share their life with me and vice versa. 

With an already established network, it becomes challenging to find a new community. Relating it to my childhood, while two different playgrounds provided twice the entertainment, they made me feel spread thin and like a guest without any ownership rights to any of them. I have always been an extrovert, so making new friends was never difficult for me. However, now as an adult, constantly having to introduce myself has become exhausting, and developing good trusting relations with neighbors takes time and effort. 

One thing has been constant through all of my moving escapades – my family was always right there beside me. And it is my family who made each house feel like I belonged somewhere. It’s taken me a really long time to realize where my place actually is and I had to run away from it to find that truth. It is with the people who have seen the best and the worst of me. The people who root for me and sometimes get disappointed by me. The people who fight for me and for whom I fight with a vengeance. The people who taught me how to love, how to show and expect respect, and how to be just a good damn human being. So even though, those people just bought a home that will no longer raise me [because I am grown, remember?], it will still have a massive impact on shaping my personality, simply because we choose to go through life together, and life happens… 

Photo by Harmen Jelle van Mourik on Unsplash

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