To be honest, there aren’t many downsides to owning a second home.
But there are a few.
As you’ve read so far, we’ve had more than our share of challenges and irritations during the renovation.
Some days it felt like more than our share.
And the very act of owning a second home is occasionally disorienting and sometimes downright strange. “Home” to most of us is a single place (not two or three) in which we invest not only our time and money—that’s the least of it, in fact—but our sense of self.
It’s where we go to be alone or hang out with the people we care most about. It’s where we entertain private thoughts and perform private acts.
In terms of personal space, it’s ground zero.
My point is that when you have two ground zeros, the concept of home becomes a bit more complicated, not to mention potentially less satisfying.
To begin with, there are logistical complications.
“Where’s my favorite blue polo shirt?” I asked myself one morning, ransacking my closet, only to realize that the shirt was folded neatly away in a storage container 1,500 miles away.
“I wish I had my good power drill down here!” Michael says as he botches a job for the tenth time with the small, battery-powered drill we keep in Vieques. (Why we keep our good drill in DC, where we both have walls so thin you could pierce them with a butter knife, is beyond me.)
These are all small things, I admit, and yet they’re borderline irritating on occasion.
I’m not asking you to feel sorry for us. Owning a second home is a luxury that most people can only dream of, and I realize that any inconvenience it may cause is hardly grounds for pity.
I’m just saying.
And then, of course, there’s the money issue.
About a year after we bought the house Michael commented one day, clutching in his hand yet another completely unanticipated bill we’d just received, “It’s just like having a child.”
I smiled happily. “Except that our house will never poop on us or say ‘I hate you.’”
“Or go to college,” he said, reluctantly smiling back.
It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that we pushed far beyond our financial comfort level to buy and renovate the house. Michael, who tends to be the more responsible partner in such matters, worried a lot in those early days about simply keeping the enterprise afloat, particularly when construction delays pushed the possibility of renting out the place further and further into the future.
I worried too, though the whole undertaking felt so right I never seriously entertained the notion that it wouldn’t work out eventually.
Sometimes it’s useful being a semi-functional idiot.