So, instead of continuing to, perhaps, daydream, plot, envision owning a house that is valued at half-a-million-dollars, which is a bit more than I can afford at any given moment, I've spent the better part of this day in communication with two dear friends of my youth from LA, Monica, who is currently in Houston, and Maisha, who is currently teaching in South Korea*. While I appreciate Monica for her pragmatism in relating to my lofty desires of owning a half-a-million-dollar property as a potential FIRST TIME homeowner, I am positively soaring on the complementary words of Maisha. Her thoughts and revelations during our email exchange were so poignantly encouraging and dynamic, I sought her consent to repost what she shared with me today.
It began with her expressing how "dreamy" I portrayed my current neighborhood to be :) and her desire to one day feel as comfortable in a place in which she resides. Having owned two homes already in her young 32 years, she's never felt the way about her adopted neighborhoods in the Inland Empire of Southern California as I've felt about my adopted home of Brooklyn, NYC. She completely understands my desire to want a place here to call my own. I responded that, yes, I am in love with my hood, but after talking at length with Monica I am reminded of the realities that I already know: that I currently don't make a whole lot annually by any stretch of the imagination as an adjunct professor, that I have educational and credit card debt that needs to be paid down, and that, perhaps, there is no need to rush into homeownership because patience always leads to the best opportunities AND clarity of choosing what opportunities you want to pursue. I also reminded myself that by continuing to pay low rent, I can be in a position to take a language immersion class in the south of France or Costa Rica for three weeks.. or take a screenplay writing workshop to develop the myriad ideas I have... or self publish, if necessary, if not definitely submit to literary competitions that have admission fees I've never been inclined to pay.. or go into the studio and record some more things musically that I have in mind, and/or QUICKLY pay off my credit card debt in a few lump some installments! All things I've thought of doing on a daily basis (for the better part of five years)....
Her response lit*trally blew my mind (!):
I know that hopping into homeownership BEFORE you have a savings and winging it can be chaotic after a while (talking more to my 27 year old self than you). I juggled balls the whole time I was a homeowner. I couldn't shop, stressed a bit, but I loved EVERY MOMENT of having my own space and being a homeowner until...well, until I didn't love it. When the stress outweighed the joy, it was time to roll. I'm more and more convinced that to live a life less ordinary, we must do things non-traditionally. Travel. Explore. Plunge. Live. There will always be rent/house notes, maintenance fees, housing taxes, association dues, etc. There will not always be France! I guess I did all the things I should have (finish college, get a job, buy a condo, buy a house) in the hopes of getting all the things I desired (the spouse, the kids, the happy life). Somewhere along the road, I realized that IF those things never happened for me, I still wanted (and was worthy of) a life filled with meaningful memories and a lil' adventure, dammit! Working 3 jobs to cover the overhead of a $380K mortgage was not the stuff memories are made of ;-)
I firmly believe - scratch that - I know that God is in control. He granted me favor to buy those places with ZERO money down and He will continue to make ways for me - whether it be in Asia, America, or Zimbabwe... Girl, if by 2011 you still want to travel, then GO! I will be right with you. If you decide you want to stay and create a little something wonderful on your quaint little block in Brooklyn, then stay. But I must tell you, the scariest moment for me in my 1,800 square foot house, was walking through it one day and wondering, "What if 10 years from now, I still have not been found by "the one." Will I be happy in this house - alone and away from friends and family? (At that time, 60 miles from LA felt like AWAY). Will I regret NOT going away to college, NOT living outside of California? And the answer was clear. GO!
I think you have an advantage because you have done "this" before. You have upped and moved thousands of miles away from "home," survived (and thrived) on your own, met interesting people on the subway, performed with celebrities on random stages, danced in the middle of a crowd, let your hair down. You are currently, though in your state of flux, living the LIFE some girls are somewhere DREAMING of!
Now, our stories, our paths, our trajectories are certainly distinct in nature, which is the way it's supposed to be. But I am soooo encouraged by her wherewithal to remind me that there is a beautiful life to be lived outside of the unconventional. (Something I very well know and ascribe to! Or at least would like to!) Say I don't buy a house while I'm young, and I do choose to continent hop for a while in the next few years as a single woman, isn't that the kind of adventure that dreams are TRULY made of? Just as relevant as settling down in a home with the love of your life, a great dane and a child or three? I've always, ALWAYS thought so. Even in loving Stuyvesant Avenue and not necessarily wanting to leave its comfortable stoop, I've always ascribed to the truth that the world is bigger than the city I'm in (be it LA, BK or DC- though I know neither BK nor DC are actually cities!) and it would be in my best interest to get out in it and play... build... work.. grow.. LIVE. Here, there, or where ever and with whomever that may be.
And so, I find it most enchanting that I am reminded of such things from a dear sister who carries OUR name of "LIFE" (according to the East African KiSwahili and Arabic Languages). More specifically I've read that it means, "ZEST for LIFE!" and this is really what we're both taking charge of! This is what we are living. So...
*For the record, I take GREAT pride in the fact that I was one of, if not THEE first person Maisha confided in her dream/goal to leave all she's known in Southern California behind and move to the continent of Asia for a year.. I was all for it! "Girl, you better GO!" I said without hesitation! And so, I am warmed at the thought that I played a small part in her overall journey to skip around the globe, and encouraged in her playing an integral part in mine! VIVA MAISHA! Live Life!!!