Until I bought this house, I thought I didn't like to be home.
I've owned two other houses, but this is the first one that has only my name on the mortgage. The other two houses were twice as large as the one I have now. They both had two stories and neighbors close by. They had green lawns and city water.
Now I live in a 1000 square foot house. I have a well that is shared with the next house over, which is the second home of some seldom seen Canadians. My utilities run on propane. I live on a gravel road. My yard is a forest.
There wasn't anything wrong with my other houses. In fact, when I left one of them, it had several offers and sold in three days for $100,000 more than I paid for it two years earlier. But they didn't feel like home. My furniture looked temporary in the elegant rooms. There were boxes that never got unpacked. Although I kept one house after my marriage ended, I never wanted to be there.
I constantly planned trips. I went on every fire assignment I could. I escaped on the weekends, putting off lawn mowing and repairs.
The moment I walked into my current house, I knew it was different. It was just a small ranch house on a half acre. But I loved it immediately. It seemed like it was made for me.
Pieces of my life hang on the walls: a painting of a female snowboarder, a wall hanging from Nepal, a photo of a fire lookout. A hot tub that I helped install is outside the back door. There is usually a black cat on the couch. Deer and turkeys wander through the yard.
Last week I went to a gated community to assess helicopter landing areas. Million dollar houses sat on large lots. They were beautiful, but I wasn't envious. I already have my place of refuge.