June 23rd 2018
Today we helped my sister and her boyfriend move into their new house. They’re first-time buyers, but long-term renters, so they’ve managed to acquire a load so much stuff over the years that they had to rent out one of those Big Yellow Self Storage containers to store their stuff in whilst they transitioned from renting a flat to moving into their house. I went along as added muscle to help load all of that stuff onto Dad’s van.
We got to the storage facility, found our container and then Steve — my sister’s boyfriend — noticed a fatal flaw in the plan for the day. He’d forgotten the passcode to the padlock.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. In actuality he never knew the passcode to the padlock. I think that makes it worse. I asked him how he could possibly have got so far through the day and not realised he was going to need the padlock passcode, and he replied “It never crossed my mind.”
After half an hour of unsuccessful guesses (birthdays, anniversary, etc.) I was seeing the funny side more than my Dad was.
My sister was at work, and no matter how many times he called/texted her, Steve couldn’t get hold of her. He was tempted to phone the hospital to say “Can I speak to Dr Norman please” but was worried about taking a doctor away from the emergency room to answer a phone call — especially when that phone call was “what is the padlock passcode?”
So his Mum and Dad drove to the hospital instead.
She didn’t know either.
Steve’s brother tried a few times, and just as we were beginning to lose hope, the lock popped open. It turned out that it was not the passcode that we were getting wrong, but the padlock. There was a button you had to press to input the passcode and we were not pressing it. The correct passcode turned out to be one of the first ones we’d tried, thirty minutes earlier, but we were just using the padlock incorrectly.
From there, the operation went a bit smoother. I used to work with my Dad doing removals (of sorts) so before long we had the entire system working like a well-oiled machine. Unloading, packing, transporting, loading, repeat. We had the storage unit unpacked and the new house full in no time. But three degrees between us and we couldn’t figure out a fucking padlock.
The fact that my sister has just bought a house has made me contemplate my own situation a little bit. If I’m honest with myself, I have absolutely no desire to buy a house, but it just feels like I should. Like I’m supposed to. And nobody can really tell me why. Well, they can, but they all just say the same thing about “paying into equity instead of renting”. And I get that. I do. I just don’t have any desire to buy a house right now.
I don’t like the idea of settling anywhere. I don’t know where I even want to settle. And buying a house would make it feel like I was stuck in one particular place. And that scares me a little bit.
There’s the somewhat romantic notion of taking a completely stripped-bare house and remodelling and redesigning it in your own image — that sounds fun-ish to me, but not enough for me to want to commit to saving that much money for a deposit.
The money thing is a big part of it, but it’s also a status thing. Owning your own home instead of renting makes it seem like you’ve really made it.
My sister owning her own home makes me feel like I’m behind — even though she is two years older than me (and a fucking doctor, for Christ’s sake). It’s just a symbol that she’s successful. And I want that, even if I don’t really want a house.
Until tomorrow, congratulations to you both.