FARGO -- All I needed to do was hang a picture.
I got out the level, the stud-finder and the hammer so I could hang the frame perfectly the first time. After all, I did not need nail holes all over my beautiful walls. The walls that I owned. I had PAID for those walls, dagnabbit. Well, actually the bank had paid for them. But you get the idea.
And then it hit me. I was a homeowner. I would have never been so careful as a renter. Every picture you lifted off the walls hid at least three nail holes from earlier, poorly planned attempts. Sure, I was a partial homeowner during my married years, but I left most of the maintenance and home improvement projects to my then-hubby. This time around, I am 100 percent responsible for the cracked concrete patio pad or the ceiling fan that makes “kerPLICKety” sounds.
As a homeowner, my entire focus and attitude has changed. I have become shamelessly “house proud.” I’m obsessed with Menards. I finally realize that an R-value isn’t a vitamin. And I’ve learned much in this short time as homeowner. Among them:
- There is a thing called a furnace filter and it needs to be changed before it starts looking like a dead badger.
- When you walk into the house and notice a musty smell, you’re going to think, “I really need to let the landlord know about that.” And then you realize there’s no one to tell. Besides yourself.
- You actually have to pay for things like water, sewer and garbage. Because, in general, you need water, sewer and garbage.
- You will turn into Hank Hill. You will start worrying about the lawn around your home, even if it’s about the size of a legal envelope. You’ll worry inordinately about crabgrass, voles and mysterious brown spots on the lawn.
- Extra money in your budget will go toward light fixtures and wax toilet rings instead of cute shoes and jewelry.
- You will freak out whenever something in your abode doesn’t sound right, smell right or look right. Is the washer ready to die? Does something smell hot? Why are those darned kids messing around your garage? Where are the police when you need them? Don’t they know you’re a taxpayer?
- Your Pinterest board will become crammed with articles like “How to shingle your garage with shoebox lids,” “87 home repair hacks using spackle” or “How to turn that old broom closet into a mother-in-law suite!”
- You realize your tool kit needs to contain more than a used emery board, a ball of twine and a sticky Chiclet.
- You will start watching HGTV religiously, even though you have trouble relating to contractors who look like Harry Connick Jr., homeowners who “only” have a $40,000 budget for a kitchen remodel and people who whine when a designer gives them domestic marble instead of Italian.
- You will begin making numerous trips to the home improvement store, where you’ll realize the teensy whathoozit that regulates water flow out of the faucet costs $13 and that there are 11 different types of caulking. You’ll also experience the frustration of finding almost nothing that you wrote on your list, while still managing to spend $147 before leaving.
- Your bath, storage closets, entryway, garage and kitchen will all seem much smaller than they did when you were making your rhapsodic tour through the place with your Realtor. Likewise, your driveway, hardwood floor and any other component that requires vigilant maintenance will seem much too large.
- Your conversation will become mind-numbingly boring. While your cool, young co-workers talk about the great concert last night or their crazy trip to Atlanta, you’ll regale them with stories about the sump pump and the importance of good attic insulation. At some point, you will watch them inch their way toward the door as the light dies in their eyes.
And in that moment, you’ll know exactly what it’s like to be a homeowner.
(Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org.)