Sunday, November 18, 2007

How NOT to buy a house

Dear Prospective Home Buyers:

As you glide from room to room, taking in all of our cheap furniture and hand-me-down accessories, please consider that despite everything it is our home, that we feel comfortable in these four walls, that we have given everything we could to it. No, it doesn't have top dollar anything. We never gathered enough Top Dollar to give it anything more than what it had already save for that bathroom faucet and the stainless steel refrigerator.

Please understand that our motivations were simple.

We chose this house for its walkable destinations, which at the time included a growing number of retail shops and restaurants that have since closed their doors.

We chose this house because of the richness in racial and ethnic diversity in its neighborhood, but that decision didn't reap the lasting friendships we had hoped for. In fact, all we've ever been is the white family in the nice house. Perhaps you can be more than that.

We chose this house for the active neighborhood association that appeared to be full of warmth and love for a city struggling to find its identity. Little did we know that most of the neighbors would be anything but warm and kind. In fact, it's taken four years for some of them to even talk to us.

We chose this house because research and statistics showed that violent crime rarely, if ever, happened outside its four walls. We honestly didn't realize that that meant other things wouldn't occur nearby like Just Plain Dumb People who know how to push my buttons.

We chose this house because it was the right thing to do, because we were young professionals and small cities like this need people like us.

The mistake we made -- the only mistake we made -- was thinking we could make a difference. Maybe we did. It's hard to tell. Our eyes are fogged over with the pitter-patter of tiny feet running across these hard wood floors.

It takes more than just one person or one family to make a difference. Every one must work together to save urban cores. State officials around the country need to find ways to change the vicious cycle of high taxes, poor school systems and economically challenged students who don't even get to take home text books to study for math tests. It is no wonder that the life of crime on the streets draws them in; its easier than learning algebra equations.

Someone -- maybe you? -- needs to have time to devote to turning the poverty rate around, to revitalizing blocks, to helping young women realize that there is something better beyond the life they've known.

It will take all of you and many more people after us to make a substantial difference.

We are un-choosing this house not because we have given up, though, perhaps we have, but because we sincerely can't do our share any longer. To live in a city like this, you must be able to put forth a great deal of effort -- effort that we no longer have time or energy or money for.

Hope is not lost. It continues with you.

Consider this a passing of the torch ... it's your turn. Just choose it for your own reasons, not ours.


The Seller

P.S. Please realize that we are grateful for everything this house has offered; the glimpses into a life and reality that many people couldn't dream up in a fiction novel, the fresh, local produce that is just a short or even shorter walk from our doorstep, the smells of heritage mixing in the Sunday air and, of course, the family we created here.

Thank you for visiting today.

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bella said...

From one urban dweller to another, I thank-you.
Your words spoke what I have often felt.
I love my city and sometimes it makes me just plain weary.
Thank-you for doing your part, for loving your city, your home, and choosing life there.
And now, it is time for someone else to call it home.

InTheFastLane said...

Sometimes you do have to do what is best for your children. It is too bad there were not more families trying to make it work. That is what the cities need. But, you can't do it alone.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I've never been an urban dweller, just because I don't feel comfortable in cities. But I did have an experience taking a job at an educational company and thinking "this venture has so much potential!" I quickly realized that I couldn't, by myself, bring about the realization of that vision: it took everyone working together. And I didn't have the personality or the skill set to drive that change. There have been few more painful lessons for me than finding that I can't single handedly change a community or a company, let alone the world.

Mama Zen said...

As in the fast lane said, you can't do it alone.