I went out with someone a few months back. Two months, I think. It was fine. We had a conversation once about home ownership.  She said that she didn’t mind living in an apartment for a while, but that one day she would want to buy a house.

“I’m never buying a house,” I said, in my typical fashion of saying something stark and naked, without really thinking much of it.

“Oh, yes you will!” she said, bumping into me playfully. I shook my head.

“I mean, you will,” she said again.  “When you have kids and a family, you’ll have to buy a house.”

“I’m never buying a house,” I said again.  We could both feel the weight of truth lowering down over us. She realized that I was telling the truth and that I might not be a good person for long time nesting.  It’s hard to nest if you don’t have a nest.

A related topic came up in class.  I was trying to make a point to my students, I forget the point, and I casually mentioned that I didn’t believe in pet ownership.

“What?” One of my students asked.

“Well,” I said, “I don’t think we should own a pet.  They should, you know, but out in the world.”

“You don’t have a dog?”

“My roommates have dogs,” I said.  “They aren’t my dogs.”

“If we didn’t have pets,” one of my students asked. “How would they eat?”

Ownership came up again a month ago, as I was telling a co-worker how long my commute was.  He listened lightly, then said with an easy sway of the hand, “well, you’ll gonna get a car soon, so it’ll be OK.”

“I’m not buying a car,” I said to him, straight faced.  That woke him up.  His eyes narrowed and he stopped in the hallway.

“You’re….not….getting a car?” he asked, like a man who honestly first realized that he may one day die.

“Why do I need a car?” I asked.  “The only thing I’d do with it is drive it to work.”

It was a strange moment for both of us.  It was early, and I don’t think he had the energy or will to have a deep conversation about my lack of desire to buy a car.  He simply nodded, then walked sideways into his office, as if he were physically dodging the controversy.

I’m slowly trying to bring all my beliefs into an umbrella philosophy so that I can present my philosophy to people instead of describing all my individual beliefs.  Most people don’t do this. I’m doing this because I am both constantly bored and progressively weird.  I don’t like to own MAJOR things. I don’t mind owning MINOR things, though.  Here’s an example.  I am actively buying records, building up my record collection.  One day, this record collection will become large, and I’m looking forward to that day.  My vinyl collection might, one day, be worth as much as a cheap, used car.  This doesn’t bother me as much as owning a car does, however.  I’m envious of people with cars. I enjoy riding in them and, when I rent a car, I mildly enjoy driving them for limit amounts of time.  But I don’t want to own one. I’ve owned three of them before and the ownership of a car was never a pleasant experience.

That makes sense. I’ve owned cars. I didn’t like it. I don’t want to own another one.  I’ve never owned a house, though, and I have absolutely no desire to own one of those.  I know, I know. I’m throwing money down the figurative drain. Owning a home is an investment. By owning a home, you are investing in the future and there is nothing more special than having a home that is yours and blah blah blah.  Nothing, nothing anyone has ever said to me about owning a home has ever convinced me that I should own a home. I’m 35. Many of my friends have bought homes.  One of my friends told me a few weeks ago that his ceiling caved in. He has to take care of that. Because it’s his home.  That…that sounds utterly insane to me.  I mean, why do I want to OWN these massive things?  Besides the considerably large boost to the elitist portions of my ego, and some monetary theoretical investment, what’s the point?

When I think about owning a home, I can’t get over the fact that I would have to pay on it for 30 some years.  Then I die.

One could argue that my education cost a large sum of money and that I don’t have any moral issues paying back my student loans. This is true.  I don’t have to mop my education, either.  My education doesn’t have grass to cut. And there will never be a day when my wife points to me and says, “We need a new back deck on the education.”

No house. No car. No pets. No kids. No spouse.

There’s a vague pattern there, maybe. Maybe.

Update: I can’t believe I forgot to put this in.


6 thoughts on “Owning

  1. I think the overarching theme here, Jarvis, is less about financial investment and more about the way you wish to spend your time. Owning a house or car or even a cat means accepting the continued cost of ownership, sure, but it also represents the loss of your limited free time to things like maintenance. Same with marriage and kids. Yes these both cost money too, but there’s also *emotional* upkeep. I know. I have all these things. And as someone who does I can honestly say that it ain’t for everyone. For some the payoff on all fronts — from the security of carving out “a place of your own” to the fulfillment that comes from creating a family — is worth the occasional (and sometimes regular) hassles. For others it is not. And that is totally okay. It truly takes all kinds.

  2. I went to a yoga class last night and halfway through had this big epiphany that the things I own are stressing me out. I’ve always been an anti-crap person, but somehow I’ve let a lot of crap accumulate in my life/house. I might be experiencing the opposite – minor crap vexes me greatly. However, we are talking about the same topic! Which is…exciting?

    What I’m trying to say is: You can take your train to my house in the suburbs someday, and bring your records and we’ll jump on my trampoline. I think of LP players as major things, so we’ll still have one at that point…

    • When the time comes, we can share all our stuff. We’ll have nothing and we’ll have everything.

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