Of home & decisions

Posted: May 30, 2014 in Life As I Know It, Uncategorized Rambling
Tags: , , , ,

I own property in Maine. It’s a small acre. Well, I mean it’s just an acre. I suppose an acre can’t really be large or small — it’s just exactly what it is. An acre. Maybe it feels small because the house in which I grew up has long since burned or because the memories of my 18 years are fast-fading or because there are some really terrible memories there that I’ve compressed and compressed in the hopes that the reduction in the amount of waking consciousness (or even cold-packed storage) they take up will somehow correspondingly reduce their importance, and the amount of space they take up. But really, it’s an acre. It’s got a nice view. And a couple of trees. And under the front yard there are giant slabs of granite because there used to be a Cider Press there. I would like a cider press, don’t you think that would be neat?

The property taxes aren’t super expensive, but they basically drain what I put into my savings every year. I’m working very aggressively at paying down credit card debt because I’ve never been super smart with my finances. There’s nothing like waiting until you’re 31 to get started, right? At the end of the day it’s all basically a wash. What I think I’m saving up is owed elsewhere, and I live paycheck to paycheck just like any other Good Student who went to college and chased the American Dream and ended up with a paralyzing $80k in student loan debt. Though, as I am prone to do, I digress.

So I own property in Maine.

It’s where I grew up. It’s where I lived for some of my greatest formative years. And some of my worst. It’s where my Mom died. It’s where I have a billion memories with friends. Memories of sexual experiences. Memories of laughter. Memories of tears. Memories of sports and games and fried dough and hash browns (cooked the right way) and sprained ankles and the dogs I grew up with and the cats that left before I was grown. The memories. The time has come where I need to decide if I want to keep it, or sell it. And it’s a very hard decision. For every person who asks what I plan to do with it, there’s generally a 50/50 shot of what their response will be. Almost to a man, every person to whom I say “I think I’m going to sell it” they answer “it’s a shame you can’t keep it and build something there! You should look into that.” And every person to whom I say “I think I might try and keep it” the response is “interesting idea, but would you really get use out of it? Could you really even rent it? Shouldn’t you just sell it so you can set up roots here?”. It’s as if everyone wants to remind me of the alternative. I don’t want someone to just agree with me, but I want someone to agree with me, you know?

It’s a difficult and painful decision. Am I giving up future gains by shedding my rights to the land? Am I giving up a great shot at a kickstart to financial freedom by keeping it? Then there are all the questions that pop up with the thoughts of getting rid of it or keeping it. What happens to my memories? (Nothing, you idiot.) What happens to my psyche? (Whatever you want, idiot.) Will I lose money? (You can’t lose money you don’t have, idiot.)

But really it comes down to being okay with losing any right I have to the land where I grew up. I’ve always been sort of materialistic. And my materialism is generally only surpassed by my sentimentality. Which is odd, because I can turn off empathy and moral filters at the drop of a hat, but for some reason throwing away the box that has all my old articles in my old college newspapers is something I’ll worry over for days. I don’t make any sense, you see.

And then after that it comes down to taking the intellectual understanding I have that memories will fade despite what property I own, but what they mean to me will never change and turning that intellectual knowledge into something I can emotionally parse. It’s never as easy as I continually seem think it will be.

Suffice it to say, I’m constantly concerned with the “right” decision, and will sacrifice what I want in pursuit of the “right” decision. I know there’s no objectively correct decision in most cases, but I’ll be damned if I won’t try to find it anyway. There’s analytical thinking, and then there’s trying to imagine every single variable and trying to plan for all of them to calculate my risk. Which in this case, is dumb.

I think where I fall is somewhere between all the logic and rationality and analysis. I fall somewhere in a valley where I understand that since I was a kid I’ve never really had goals for my life. I’ve never really felt like I could achieve much, so I’ve never set goals. The vast majority of successes I’ve had or cool things I’ve done have been on a whim. I was in the right place and right time and wanted to give it a shot, it wasn’t about any larger strategy of success because…why bother? I grew up sorta poor, in a semi-broken home (although surrounded by a great deal of love, thankfully) and just kind of figured that’s what life would always be. So there’s no need to really plan for more. I don’t think my parents ever taught me that I couldn’t achieve, but I can’t say that I’m left with any indelible marks of lessons that ended with me achieving, either. I was lauded with a lot of “you can be anything you want” praise, and people telling me they were just waiting for all the big things I would do. But because of the pressure, and the expectation, I just sort of folded. I’ve still done great things, and I’m not concerned with anyones pride, but I’ve just kind of never set goals because I was too concerned with doing the right thing. I’ve never really spent any time carving out space to get what I want with any larger strategy. If it didn’t just happen to me, like people seemed to say it would, then I probably wasn’t going to get it. So why bother?

I’m 31 now and am much better at realizing the error of that thinking. I’m also much better at realizing WHY that’s how my brain has worked for the larger part of 31 years, and what I can do about it. Like I said, no time like being 31 to try and get on the “let’s make a life for myself” train, right?

I think maybe this is the end of the gift my mom didn’t mean to leave me. For all the things she’s put inside me — incredibly high risk for alcoholism, depression, second-guessing, terrible financial management, my sense of humor, my generosity, my lack of hope for the world — she also gave me a path to getting out of a lot of what ails me now.

I hate that it’s money. I hate it. But it is. I’m at a point where I can take the money from the sale of the land and wipe out a significant portion of my debt. And then I can set some goals. I can look to buy a house, I can look to travel the world, I can look to quit my job and start a brewery.

And maybe that’s the point. Maybe the struggle is the point. It’s not that I’ll have money and can do whatever I want, it’s that for all the time I never believed in myself and struggled with my relationship with her, and hated her, and wished to be done with it all — she left me an opportunity to make a decision for myself that will give some closure to our relationship, and give me a chance at setting my own path more than I ever have before.

She gave me the power of choice. She didn’t mean to, but she did. And that’s something I’ve never felt I’ve had much of in regards to my future. And it’s something I’ll never forget.

  1. Jane MacDonald says:

    Your mother loved you more than she she could tell you, I guess. But if you’ll never come back to Maine, then I think you should sell the property and get free of it and move on with your life. You will never be free of the memories good or bad. And I personally think that you should remember the good times and I know you had them, and try to forget the last part. She had issues towards the end of life and sometime that happens. The Debbie I remember was a wonderful friend that went astray. I’m sorry I wasn’t there more. Jason you are a good person that has done well for yourself and you can thank your mother and father for that. So if selling that property helps you in the long run with your life don’t regret it at all. But try to remember your mother as the good person she really was. I loved and miss her a lot. I hope I’m not stepping out of bounds with you. Good luck with what you decide. Love ya, Jane

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