I was born and raised in a working class, coal mining town in Pennsylvania. That past has been popping up in my thoughts as Carol and I have recently been searching for a house. It seems that the fact that the most money I have in my wallet at any one time never exceeds twenty five dollars keeps calling me back to those times growing up – when no one had much more than that in their wallets – at least that is my memory of that time. My family, and others similar to us, did not use credit (unless one is talking about Xmas lay-a-way buying) or deal with large sums of cash.
As Carol and I have been engaged in house hunting, we have been considering large amounts of money, on paper at least, while never holding those amounts in our hands. It all has a surreal quality for me that does not reconcile itself with the small amount of cash I find in my wallet every day. The process itself has been invigorating. At this stage of our lives, it is turning out to be exciting to take this kind of a risk with the prospect of energizing our lives. We are aware of the cautions that people share with us – buying a house that will need regular, constant attention and care, assuming debt for years to come, and having a future fraught with uncertainty. The idea of beginning a new phase of our lives has outweighed those concerns, and the house hunting process has actually brought enjoyment to us as we talk over what we will do in a new place, how it will look, how it will change our routines, and how it will offer surprises we haven’t even thought of just yet. Neither of us has been averse to taking risks in either our personal or professional lives, so the risks of house buying have not been intimidating for us.
Having grown up as I did and having little access to large sums of money has made this process seem like playing with monopoly money. It is difficult for me to believe that what we are engaged in represents reality. Perhaps that will change when we complete the process and I can literally point to a home and say that that is the monopoly money made real. I will still have the twenty five dollars in my wallet but the universe will have returned to an equilibrium that I can grasp.