Monday, July 16, 2018

Stoneacre, Beauport, and the Nature of Want

Last night, I found myself looking through multi-million dollar real estate listings. The kind that are so fancy that they need their own, special website, as they are clearly too good to be mixed in with all those "normal people" homes. I was comparing and contrasting the different properties-- their locations, amenities, size-- with careful intent, determined to select the perfect one for my own. Waterfront seemed to be a priority for me, as well as a large number of bedrooms-- at LEAST four, because I'd be damned if I was going to spend millions of dollars on a home and not have a guest room-- but balanced by having a reasonable overall square footage. Anything over 4,000 seemed a bit much for my needs.

It was also important to keep the price somewhat reasonable-- I didn't give any thought at all to anything over five million, giving special preference to those in the 1.25 to 3 million dollar range. And this is an important point: for anyone who might be confused, I am not looking, in any actual way, to buy a multi-million dollar home. I am no where near in the income or wealth range to be able to afford it. I was, in fact, selecting a home for my fantasy life.

But, and here's the kicker: it's my attainable-feeling fantasy life. It's the fantasy life where I do something great, make several million dollars, and can afford a home in the one to three million dollar range. Maybe four or five. Anything more than that, however, kills the illusion.

It would seem that, at the age of 33 and 363 days, I still believe I will be a great, creative success. I still believe I will one day soon be able to afford the luxury home of my choosing. So long as I don't choose *too* much luxury.

In real life, Dan and I will soon be taking over my parent's house. We will be selling the house in Greene that we bought extremely cheaply-- a repo-- with most of the money from Dan's inheritance and former graduate school fund. We are hoping to make enough from the sale to pay back the loans we took out to fix it up, as well as giving my parent's a lump sum towards their home. The idea is that we will then only need to pay them back for a small portion of the value of the house, and then we will own it, mortgage-free. This is a huge deal for a millennial couple, nearly unheard of. This goal, this life, this one-day accomplishment is not something that deserves to be buried however many paragraphs down in a post about my picking my dream house off of a luxury homes website. This is the thing that I have been working towards for most of my adult life. Owning that home is what I wanted since I was a kid.

But it needs to be said that, when I was a child, I wanted only to own it, not live in it. I had assumed, all along, that given my clear intelligence and obvious future fame that I'd be able to buy it, and protect my memories, and visit it when I felt the need. Maybe let someone I cared about live in it and keep it up. But it would be one of the many houses I would own, in addition to, at the very least, a house that resembled one of the houses on the website.

Life goes on, and it beats you down, and it puts you in your place. And you see people around you who you respect, struggling just to get by, no hopes of anything so grand as home ownership on the horizon. And you see yourself, working day after day, making barely enough. And you manage to afford a few vacations, and you manage to have decent cars. You manage to afford a lot of the things you want if you buy a lot of them used on craigslist, and you manage to pay most of your bills on time. And the goal starts to shift, and now you're just more concerned with getting to a point where maybe you could set all of your bills on autopay and not have to think about them. Maybe you could pay off your credit cards and your medical debt. Maybe you could stay afloat until one of the kids isn't in day care anymore, and, hot damn, won't that be something? Won't it be something to NOT be paying a quarter of your income towards childcare just so you can work?

 That'll be the year you plan TWO vacations. That'll be the year you go out to eat without guilt.

For a long time, that kind of life was really all I thought about. For a long time, that kind of life felt like, maybe, enough.

But things change. For me, they changed. They changed back.

I met a guy a few years ago who woke me up creatively. A guy who believes in big things, and my ability to do big things, and OUR ability to do even bigger things, together. And I bought into it. And I believe. I believe we can do these big things, together.

Maybe I just have to believe. Maybe I'm heaving from the marathon drudgery that is modern life-- two parents working full-time jobs, and a one kid who just can't seem to be normal, and a baby taking up any spare attention. A house that can never really get clean and pets that are behind for their vaccinations and don't get played with a lot. And a bank account that never seems to grow, and the tiny things on the horizon to look forward to that are never enough-- the long weekend that's over before it begins, the vacation you look forward to and leaves you feeling empty when it's done.

So, alright. My real life is tough, and I need a fantasy house to buy with the income from my great, creative breakthrough. And yes, my time would be better spent making progress on that great, creative breakthrough. But you do what you're capable of doing, I suppose.

So I find this house, right, and it's damn near perfect. 2.7 million. Four bedrooms. On the water. Has a dock. Roof access with a helicopter pad that I'll clearly never use, because my fantasy gets real hard to believe in around the time that I can afford a helicopter. Frankly, it kinda seemed like too small a house to have one, but I let it go. The exterior is stone, so it has a castle quality to it-- that's a plus. But, there again, it's only 3,500 square feet. It's smallish. Practical-ish. It feels right.

I can't find any good shots of the entire exterior, however, and that bugs me. So I go looking for the home on google maps.

What I find it that the home itself is nestled between two much larger estates-- both of which have fancy names. It shares a wall with one of them, Beauport. Beauport is no longer a private home, but a historic home designed by a famous architect that operates as something of a museum. On the Beauport home-museum website, where you can look an hours and prices for tours, I find a shot of the two properties taken from the ocean: they look, in this shot, like the same building, separated by and build up to a stone wall that separates the Beauport Estates with the neighboring estate, equal in splendor.

As it turns out, MY house, MY fantasy, MY 2.7 million dollar dreamhouse on the water is, in it's entirety, actually a former gate house to the much larger estate that neighbors Beauport. Stoneacre.

Stoneacre itself-- the main house, that is-- is also for sale. 8.5 million. I didn't find it listed because it has it's own, seperate, branded website. It is, in fact, too fancy to be mixed in with all those "only kind of rich people" luxury homes.

The Stoneacre site is insane. The house is insane. Nearly 10,000 square feet. 9 PLUS bedrooms, whatever the plus means. 6 full baths and 3 half baths.

Here's the thing. I don't WANT Stoneacre. Even fantasy me doesn't want Stoneacre. I said it before-- I wasn't even looking at anything above five million. Who the fuck is going to keep 10,000 square feet clean for me? My fantasy servants? What am I, a fantasy elitist?

And, for all of that, it doesn't even have it's own helicopter pad anymore-- my neighbors would have have to get my permission to use it, because some short-sighted bazillionaire put it on the gatehouse, not thinking about the day in the future when some cheapskate would separate the two properties.

I don't want Beauport, either. It's a fucking a museum. But here's the thing: somehow, these two...monuments to decadence ruin my perfect "little" dream home for me.

Somehow, I don't want to be the person living in the quaint little multi-million dollar home between the museum and the main house of the Stoneacre Estate. On the one side, your neighbors are the people who own the home that used to be lived in by the people who built your house as...honestly, I don't even know what a gatehouse is? I assume that some manner of servants lived there. Me and my billionaire neighbors would be separated by this bizarre, super-rich casque system that was set in stone, literally, a hundred years before.

On the other side, we're practically attached to a fucking museum. Tourists on their way to Beauport would get lost and then be disappointed when they ended up at my place. And I, in turn, would develop a complex about all the camera-carrying New Yorkers frowning up at my beautiful home as I walked out to explain that they needed to be on the other side of the fence.

The fact that no one shows up to take a tour of my home is not something I ever felt the need to feel bad about before. Why would I want to add that to my list of insecurities in a fantasy future? Who needs it?

But this whole thing speaks volumes about the nature of....want, I suppose. There is no doubt whatsoever that the home I like-- the "little", unnamed former gatehouse-- is far beyond the home I am working towards moving into in nearly every way. It's larger, better located, in better condition. If I compare my fantasy home to the real home I will move into soon, the fantasy home beats it in nearly every category, with the exception of, like, tax burden. It is beautiful and luxurious and all I could ever want in so many ways.

But when I find myself comparing it to the neighboring properties, suddenly it is flawed. Through no fault of it's own, it falls in ranking. It comes with an inferiority complex. It makes me uncomfortable.

My parent's house, which will soon by mine, is superior to the home I am in now in many ways. The location is better: closer to town, on a nice street, no insane neighbors. It is larger, and it is, mostly, in better shape. There is work to be done, and we are doing it. We are doing it as part of the marathon drudgery of our modern life. We are making a house we can live in, and be comfortable in, and call home, perhaps for the rest of our lives. And I am happy to call it home.

Except that I am readying myself to leave it, one day. I am readying myself for the creative success, and the riches, and the dream home. I am readying myself for a better future, because, somehow, I can't stop and spend any time wanting what's laying right before me. Somehow, I must dream of more, lest I drown in what I have already.

Such is the nature of want, I suppose.

On with it.