Thursday, April 03, 2008


The past 24 hours have been a very difficult stretch indeed.

I had resigned myself to never owning a house. I won't live outside of a very small area in Ottawa, bounded by the Queensway on the south, Laurier to the north, Bank to the east and Preston to the west. And though I make a good salary, I can't afford to buy a place in that square by myself.

Though it was never only the money. I don't want to take care of a house by myself. I don't like yardwork. I like the idea of gardening, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't follow up on it. I don't want roommates and a partner, well, I'm not a big fan of waiting around for someone else to do something.

I put the house-owning idea out of mind. I love my apartment anyway, my street is great, my landlord is great, I love my neighbour. So I figured I had it pretty damn good.

Then I poked around in why I felt the need to own. There's the financial argument, but really that wasn't it. It was sentimental, why I wanted to own. It was part of the "that's what you're supposed to do" stuff of growing up middle-class. I have resisted that indoctrination in many other areas of my life. I damn well wasn't going to put myself into 20 years of debt just for that.

And then Shelley and Steve decided to move back to Ottawa. I was ecstatic about just that fact. And then Shelley suggested we all look for a duplex together. I was ecstatic over the moon.

I'm still really excited, don't get me wrong. But the reality of owning, and the worry of buying a house on behalf of two people who won't see it until after they've plonked down their hundreds of thousands of dollars? That has tempered the unbounded joy I was feeling at being able to live with Shelley and Steve.

Looking for a house is like internet dating. Seeing the pictures, they're beautiful, great bones, brilliant descriptions - everything fits! we're perfect for each other! I'd get all a-twitter that this might be the one, that we could maybe stop looking, that I could stop reminding myself to breathe deeply and stretch into this space that would soon be mine.

And then the disappointment, over and over and over again, my heart a little less stretchy each time. The photos were white lies, too much work for too much money. Not enough space for too much money. A bad fit, each time. After all that, nothing, no houses - the lull before the spring realty storm.

Hit it did. Yesterday was the most stressful day I have had since the day at work I had to go lie on my back in Confederation Park for 20 minutes watching the clouds move.

Thank god for yoga. I kept hearing Jamine's voice in my head. She talks a lot, and importantly, about yoga off the mat. All very well to be able to grab your toes, but how useful is that kind of stretch, what good is knowing how to breathe into tension if you can't do it, as she says, at the dinner table?

So I did the hausasana. Every time I thought my head my pop off like a mutilated Barbie's, I would hear Jamine's voice and I would take a deep breath, using it to search out the stress, using it loosen the tension and breathe a least a few of those molecules back out.


Robin said...

I know this is really obvious, but here goes anyway:

Owning a house isn't for everybody. It sounds like your friends should buy the duplex, and you be their long-term tenant and loyal friend.

And trust your instincts.

Jo Stockton said...


Jamine said...

Are you kidding me? They're moving back? That's awesome! Consider my neighbourhood. It's quite diverse ;)

BTW, I'm ready for you to visit my, um, office.

And I'm glad I my talking made some sense to someone somewhere.

Jamine said...

Sorry, one other thing. That's funny that I say the dinner table because I don't even have one. We eat at a counter at my "house."

Anonymous said...

Well look who's all grown up! Hey Megan!!

It sounds like your having a stressful time, so maybe I can help take some of that away by playing a game with you....I'm an old friend, and we'll see if you can guess who I am. : )

First hint: Edie: Ciao Baby

Although, I think that will give it away pretty quickly. It's been quite some time. I hope all is well. Looks like your doing well, and I'm happy to see that.

Ciao for now!

Anonymous said...

I've just went through this. Unless its the suburbs or some ultramodern condo about the size of a matchbox, you can't afford some nice urban digs on one salary in this town. The only place that was decent was Hintonburg, buts is just a bit out of your area, and even the real-estate agents are all over it now, charging Glebe or Westboro prices.

I don't know where the urge to own comes from, I had it, so I made myself a compromise. Rent the place that would be like a gazillion to own, but buy some nice lake-front property to eventually clear and put a cottage up on. In the meantime its good to camp on and makes a nice retreat and I get to live downtown.

It makes financial sense plus I got some place to run to when the zombocalypse hits! ;-)

Mud Mama said...

I sort of agree with anonymous. If you're into cottaging/rural living at all, consider buying a cottage in Quebec within "decent weather" commuting distance of Ottawa, and rent a place in a neighbourhood you adore in town. I have several friends doing this either as singles or as "hip queer couples with kids who want to be able to do it right on one income" and its working really well.

They've got a maintenance free chunk of land (no one expects you to garden in the woods), a place they can do ANYTHING they want to, the nice stable investment property provides, a refuge during the coming zombocalypse, and a great affordable way of being in town whenever they want.

Asteroidea Press said...

Wow! Thanks everyone!

I'll save my comments about the house stuff for the next couple posts.

Anonymous from my past: I feel like a jackass, but I'm at a loss. There's a faint bell ringing in my brain somewhere, but it's not getting louder at all. I give up.

Jamine: Your talking makes a lot of sense to a lot of people, I think. The dinner table references often came around holidays - so I think you meant the Thanksgiving table, or Christmas table, but I often imagined the fights my dad and I got into at the table when I was a teenager.

That's great about your office! Maybe you could email me some photos? That way I can get an idea of what kind of space you're dealing with and might be able to make some recommendations for infrastructure before we get down to creating you a system. I'm so excited that you want me to help! I love doing this kind of thing, and you can only do it so often in your own home.

Anonymous said...'s been a long time, so I'm not offended.

Clue #2. When I was moving, I found something that belonged to a family member that you wrote quite some time ago, . If I remember, it was called Rite.

: )

Asteroidea Press said...

Rance: (I don't know why your comment isn't showing up right now.) Thanks! I'm super excited.

Anonymous: Gah, lucky you! Funny, I was just thinking of that piece the other day, couldn't remember its name. But I already gave up, which was actually a polite, though obtuse, way of saying "It would be really nice to know who you are and catch up, but this is right up there with Monopoly for being my least favourite game, so maybe you could email me using the email address over in the right sidebar and we might have a nice catch up privately?"