My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings
How much space do you need in a house?
Is this question different than how much space you want in a house? I think so but when I bought this one and only one house I’m living in now I never asked myself the question because in 1994 it didn’t matter to me. I’d lived in several apartments of various square footages since my High School graduation in 1975. The apartment life was easy. Not many rooms to clean, no lawns to mow, no maintenance to perform, and best of all I wasn’t responsible for the property tax bills.

All of that changed for me in 1994 when I bought this house I’m living in now. I have many more rooms to clean, mowing with weed pulling, landscaping I plant and care for, many minor maintenance issues to attend, and lastly, I have property tax bills I must pay each summer. I spent time in every room in this house for the first 10 years. Even in the two bedrooms no one was using. For nine years those two bedrooms were not only brought up to snuff with repaints and new carpets but, they were used to store things that might be needed a few times a year. One of them was used exclusively for my seasonal interior holiday décor changes.

Payton decided to stop resisting his existence into this world in 2001 and his brother Lukas followed his lead in 2003. There went the two bedrooms that were being used for everything but sleeping, which forced me to find room elsewhere for those things. A storage shed rented off of my property was the best solution at the time, so I loaded my truck with the things I used the least. The boys grew quickly and so this meant they would outgrow the toys intended to entertain them for their progressing ages. Many of these toys were huge.

In no time at all stuff was piling up. Bouncy seats, wind up swings, cribs, clothing, large plastic toys of all imaginable themes, and so many others I don’t recall needed to be stored because heaven forbid their mother let me throw them away or sell them. My solution: build on a room! And with the building of a new room, add some hidden storage space. This room would be my big screen TV room intended, selfishly, for me. After all, the boys had TVs in their rooms. They wouldn’t need to fight with me about what to watch on TV in the new room!

Seventeen years later the boys are grown up and share space in two homes as the result of their mother’s and my divorce eight years ago. Fortunately all of that situation has gone very well over the years, but I find myself with a lot of unused space. I’ve had many friends downsizing over the past five years for the very reason of having unused space in their homes. “Craig, why would you want to continue to clean, maintain, and spend money on space you will probably never use again?” Adding to my individual situation is that I live in a bi level home which requires that I climb stairs every day and all day.

My mother and I have had this conversation many times over the recent years. She talks about using only three rooms in her house, and it’s bigger than mine. I’ve discovered my mother is right. Right about two things. One: I too at my age now I use only three rooms in my house. Two: like my mother, it doesn’t matter to me that I use just three rooms to live my life in at home. For now, I’m not interested in thinking about downsizing. As long as I’m able I’m staying put even if my significant other, Shannon, would decide to pack up and move to California to be with her family.

I don’t mind cleaning and maintaining this house that I live. As boring a social life that I live anyway, it gives me things to do to stay busy. I have a couple of cats that keep me on my toes. The cats for sure use every room in the house for sleeping and hunting at night. Hunting? Yep, bugs and such. They slink around in the dark late at night hoping to ambush a cricket, spider, or some other unfortunate bug that managed to get into the house. On the weekends they sound like a herd of turtles running through the house in the afternoon chasing each other. The boys used to do the same. Shannon and I not so much, too old and too out of shape. Navigating all the stairs would surely leave one of us with a twisted ankle or broken leg. Geez, we both sometimes will miss a step and almost fall when being careful!

No, I don’t see myself downsizing unless my physical strength forces me to do something else. My boys were born and raised in this house, so it’s also full of reminders of my past growing old with them. Even if I end up all by myself here, I’m staying until I can’t. I like all the room, even if I’m not using all of it. For me to move from here would be like starting life over again. To do that I have conditions. One, wherever I move has to be warm all the time. Two, the wherever has to have one of my children already living there and they will have had to have asked me to move there. Not in the same house. No, I want to live in my own home with my own privacy rules. First and foremost, if I want to walk through my house in boxers and a T-shirt any time at night and every night, I can. This way I can do so without having to have an emergency robe hidden in each room so I might cover myself should someone other than a male family member be present in my home. I’m sure most of you with teenage children have had to make that emergency dive for cover when a surprise guest came through the door cutting you off from your bedroom. My boys laugh at me, but I’m old school and I’m not changing. If you’re not the doctor…you don’t get to see! Not that there is anything to see, but I embarrass easily. Keep your big house until you can’t!

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