Million Dollar Houses

Musing on an old house.

houseIs this what $1.2 million looks like? I don’t think so either. But apparently that’s the going price for old houses like this one in my neighbourhood. This is my house, by the way. Small lot. Old garage. New kitchen. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms. Circa 1912.

James and I always said we’d stay in this house until we couldn’t do stairs anymore. We raised our daughter Katie here, and a few dogs and several cats. (There’s a secret pet burial ground in the back yard). Katie is 26 now, out on her own, but she still calls this home. Still has a key.

There’s an outdoor pool nearby, and an ice rink. Katie took lots of lessons at those places. The school is a good one, true inner city, and with a heart of gold. The playground in the park has been re-vamped a few times in the 20 years since we’ve been here, and the current version is the best. (Although we used to have an old red firetruck which kids just loved).

James and I have talked over the years about moving to the Quay or Vancouver when we retire. But we always came back to how much we love this neighbourhood, and how much it has meant to us over the years. He grew up here too, in a house around the corner. His parents still lived there up until a few years ago. He swam in the pool, played in the park, and went to the same schools that Katie did.

I used to work at a nearby church, and now at the library. Walking to work is so great, especially because I get to walk through the big park everyday.

We’ve watched the neighbour’s kids grow up, and now I watch their grandchildren growing up. For years we had a dent in our garage door from the street hockey players, but it didn’t bother us at all. We’ve been treated to the sounds of garage bands and musician neighbours, and that’s been a pleasure. We’re old rockers at heart.

We were on one of our walks the other night, with our dog Buddy (who thinks he owns the neighbourhood). Looking at all the for sale / sold signs I made my usual comment, “Well, should we sell up and move to the Quay?” And for the first time, James said, “Yeah, maybe we should”. It could have been the thought of the chafer beetle lawn, or maybe the thought of all the landscaping we want to do. Or the never-ending renovation. Or chatting with our neighbours who have sold, and hearing their new and exciting plans. A cool million. So tempting.

But then what? How will our daughter ever get into a house of her own if we don’t leave this one to her? What if we discover we aren’t condo people? What if we move somewhere and it’s quiet…too quiet? For all its challenges, we love our old house. And the day will come when we move on, out of love (so Katie can live here with her family) and necessity (because we just can’t do the stairs anymore). But until that day, we’re banking on memories, not money.

Marianne Janzen

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