Saturday, January 15, 2011

Accidental Houses

I just realized this morning that I know several people with more than one home. In fact I know two couples who own five homes. And none of them would make a blip on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Extra homes are the two car garages of the 21st century. And most of the time, among my friends at least, they seem unintentional. 
          From where I sit as a spectator, becoming the owner of a fleet of houses starts slowly. The first one could be a beautiful old three story graystone in the city in an up and coming neighborhood. Followed by renting it out after a move to the suburbs. Next up -- the vacation place. Around the Chicago area that means Wisconsin or Michigan most of the time. But Maine, Wyoming, Minnesota, Florida, Arizona, the Outer Banks, Baja, California, as well as South Bend, Indiana have been alternate picks among people I know. Even my friend who shops her local thrift store has two homes. One in Montana on ten acres. And one in Indiana on a lake. After a trip to browse the latest at her nifty thrifty shop, she often calls to tell me how much she's found for $10.00. Okay, maybe someone wore the clothes for awhile. But sometimes they still have the original price tags. I know, because she has sent a few to me. Brand new Ralph Lauren/Ellen Tracy/Donna Karan, $1.50. 
          These days having three homes is what having two homes used to be. A college roommate who grew up in Hawaii has homes on Oahu, Kauai, and the big island. She didn't have to look far to find nice places to live. 
          Then any number of things can add to the purchases. Another vacation home that was too good to pass up. Or a condo in the old country, which for one couple, was Ireland four or five generations ago. One of the physical therapists working me to death in hip re-hab bought a house in Poland. Other friends purchased a home for their college kid, since that turned out to be cheaper than room and board. And it's a really nice house, not one of those slumlord fixer uppers that populate college neighborhoods. Finally, there's the house for an elderly, but still very active parent. Not that they can't take care of themselves any longer, no really -- we just want you to live close. Ah yes, there's a minefield you have to navigate carefully.         
          I just saw the 3BR, 2BA with frpl some friends bought their 90-year-old mom. It's a mere two doors down from a family member on a nice street in a lovely neighborhood. I offered to move in with her so she had someone to bring in the paper. The good news is that now she will be just two minutes away from one of her daughters, instead of forty minutes by car, if there's no traffic. The bad news is she will be just two minutes away from one of her daughters. . .kidding. I'm going to her birthday party tonight. She's got so many friends and relatives coming to celebrate they've had to split the party into two sections -- four hours during the afternoon for people who don't like to drive at night. And four hours tonight for people who don't like to drive during the day. Each party has its own birthday cake. One has chocolate icing, the other vanilla. 
          None of the furniture has been moved in yet, except for a couple of comfy chairs. So the house is itching to get its party on. Yesterday I helped set up tables and chairs in all the rooms. I even offered to bring my collection of lovely black/gold/rust striped fancy tablecloths and matching cloth napkins, but I was turned down because the serving plates are green. Meanwhile, the cable company came to activate the two new plasma TVs. We even took the new Viking [!] oven on a test drive, sharing several hundred calories of some freshly baked artichoke dip after all our hard work. I'm sure there will be no shortage of eating, drinking, and entertainment opportunities to christen Nana's new house, the fifth in their repertoire. I haven't heard whether they're going to sell or rent out her old one. 
          Time to rummage about the only house I own to see if I've got anything to wear tonight. One hopes I can find something less butch than polar fleece. But this could take awhile.    


Donna said...

Good grief, you do run in some prosperous circles! Wait a minute, I have two houses: the old two-story house and this trailer house. Yeah!

Mrs. L said...

My point exactly.