Saturday, September 3, 2011

Character is over-rated

Many years ago, when Matt and I were house hunting, I was hooked on homes with "character". Old houses with back stories, brick and hardwood, fireplaces and history. My dad has one. Matt and Amanda had one. But then we found our Colorado house. I must say, it was never a "love at first sight" type thing. It was a "what a good deal in our price range" type thing.

We looked at a lot of houses out here. Big ones, small ones, expensive ones, close to work and further away. I told Matt that if I had to live all the way out on the freakin' east coast, away from everyone and everything I loved, I was going to at least live in a house I liked. This means a house with, you guessed it, character.

I wasn't very old when I discovered the phrase "it builds character" was synonymous with "it really sucks by you might end up being a better person if you make it through". I quickly decided I don't really want character, the price tag just isn't that appealing. And really, is it so bad to go thorough life "character-less?".

Recently I have discovered that there is a lot in common with houses with character and character building situations. Basically, if you survive it, you might be a better person because of it. This occurred to me as I was standing in the shower watching my neighbor mow his lawn and his wife cooking dinner in their kitchen. All from the shower. Because nothing says "character" more than a randomly placed window in your shower.

Unless it is the fact my toilet flushes with hot water. Free hiney steam bath with every flush! And if you, like me, generally use the toilet before your shower, be sure to adjust the temperature accordingly. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped shrieking, damp and naked from the shower because the toilet tank was done refilling (with hot water) and the temperature of my shower just suddenly increased by 20 degrees. Note to self: flush after the shower.

Character also means that there is no such thing as "level" in this house, which, of course, saves time when hanging anything on the wall. Don't bother using a level, it will just make the straight picture look crooked if it is hanging straight in a crooked house. It is fun for the girls, you don't even have to push your hot wheels car to make it roll across the floor, just choose the highest corner in the room!

When heading to the basement, be sure to watch you head. Don't spend too much time down there or you will have to visit the chiropractor for the crick in your neck and the emergency room to fix the gash in your forehead from the exposed pipes or random bare wires that hang down. And I sure hope your remembered to put on your shoes before you went down, it always feels a little nasty to step in the stream that runs across the floor in bare feet.

The random wet spot that shows up on our bedroom floor every time it rains is a great conversation starter. No, there isn't a leak from above nor is the ceiling below it ever damp. There is no pipe below and and isn't wet all the way to the wall. Its a real "character building" head scratcher.

Nothing like randomly leaking pipes and clogged plumbing that pops the main line cap to keep you on your toes, and everyone knows you can't build character flat footed! Having to keep matches by the stove since my ignite never works reminds me to always be prepared. Have no closet space keeps me thinking outside the box (and under the bed). The funky smell in the carpet on the stairs helps me remember that while pets may come and go, their stench remains.

I have learned that I am not really as big of fan of character as I once believed myself to be. Character, like life, is messy and unpredictable. I will never again take for granted that just because an outlet exists, that it works. I will be able to say that I once lived in a house over a hundred years old, but I will say with pride that we were smart enough not to buy it.


Sarah said...

Love your analysis of character :-) Older houses are definitely a challenge. If it makes you feel better, my toilet has the opposite effect on the shower temperature. You are all warm and cozy, then freezing.

Stay strong friend!


Kari Marie said...

So I should buy a new modern home?? :-)

Jennifer McHam said...

You make me laugh :) ! I love your character building analogy. Very good Mrs. Crocker ;)