American Nightmare

14 Nov

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find someone to share it with.”

That’s what a loan officer told me after I had informed her that, yes, I would be attempting to buy a home by myself. There was pity in her voice, and if it wasn’t for the sake of professionalism, she probably would have said, “Whoa. You’re buying a home alone? SPINSTER ALERT!”

forever alone, single, spinster

Me, apparently

I’ve wanted to own a home as long as I can remember. Some people dream of getting married, of having children, of becoming a doctor. I longed to have a permanent address.

I loved what it symbolizes: stability, family, love, comfort, success. I imagined having a guest bedroom for visiting friends and family, and a fenced yard for a dog to run around in. And while there wouldn’t be the pitter-patter of little feet, I would have a partner alongside me.

My dream has taken a slight detour. My American dream has become an American nightmare.

30 was kind of a rough year for me. I struggled with some health issues, my long-term boyfriend and I broke up, and the place I worked for was bought out, and quickly went down the toilet.

Suddenly I saw everything I had worked really hard for slipping away. Goodbye income. Goodbye partner. Goodbye sanity. Goodbye American dream.

Not to get all Langston Hughes, but what does happen to a dream deferred?

I thought a lot about how I had gotten to that point. I must have taken a hard left somewhere in life to be 30, alone, and possibly jobless in the near future.

As I went through my rolodex of memories, I realized that not having anyone there with me has never stopped me before.

I’ve moved to different states by myself. I’ve taken vacations by myself. I’ve signed for apartments by myself. I’ve gone hiking by myself. I’ve gone to dinner by myself. I’ve gone to the movies by myself.

selfie, hiking, stevie ray vaughan, travel

My entire adulthood has been spent doing the things I want, regardless of whether someone else was along for the ride.

My dream didn’t get deferred, it simply changed.

So yes, I will be buying that house by myself. It won’t be as big, and I won’t have someone to argue about paint colors with. It may not have a fenced yard, but my friends and family will still be welcome. And while it may no longer be the American dream, it will be my American nightmare.


Big thanks to RollerGiraffe for listening to me whine about this, and inspiring me to write this post

111 Responses to “American Nightmare”

  1. writerwendyreid 11/17/2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Great post Jen. I’m glad to see you are still hangin’ on. 😉 xo

  2. javaj240 11/16/2013 at 11:27 am #

    Do it!

  3. Kylie 11/15/2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Congrats!! That is exciting. I hear you on the going to movies, dinner, etc., by yourself. I’ve done a lot of that too. Makes me think I should write about it. Really, I love houses and gardens and decorating so I’m vicariously excited about this!!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:42 pm #

      You should absolutely write about it, especially because you’re a wife and mother! With so little extra time, I love that you sometimes spend it alone. I’m sure other women would love to read about that.

      • Kylie 11/16/2013 at 2:26 pm #

        I’m alone right now at the library after getting a pedicure alone, which was after reading blogs alone in bed all morning while the boys were all at a soccer game and my girl was at my mom’s. bliss.

  4. joehoover 11/15/2013 at 7:51 am #

    Hope it goes smoothly, I’m buying my first flat right now at 37. The only downside is the lack of space you get for the money (in London anyway). Being single may actually be a benefit so you don’t drive each other crazy. At least mine comes with a small lock up shed in the car park which I could always slap a £200,000 price tag on and market it as a studio.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:41 pm #

      HA! Good for you for buying property, and in London no less! Is it as stressful there as it is here? Forms, fees, escrow…makes my head spin.

      • joehoover 11/19/2013 at 6:33 am #

        My brother is sorting most of it for me since he’s in that line of work. My mind is just left with picking out curtains

  5. pépère the cat 11/15/2013 at 2:54 am #

    I know a few people (both men and women) buying houses on their own and in many ways I envy them. Owning property by yourself (particularly if it is paid for out of your own earned income) is a symbol of your independence, success and personal achievement. Nobody else gets to take credit for that. My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship, but if we stay together long-term, we will probably be ready to live together before either of us are in a position to buy a property. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t still be an amazing feeling to buy a place, but I wouldn’t ever be able to say, “Look what I bought and paid for all by myself.” And if we don’t stay together, then I absolutely will buy somewhere by myself as soon as I can. My dad already owned a house when he met my mum, and for 30 years he’s been the family breadwinner so she’s never contributed to the mortgage as far as I’m aware. Three years ago my mum paid for an extension to the house out of her savings and the way she went on about it made me realise that not having contributed financially to the house must have made her feel very inadequate. Just to be clear, my dad has never said or done anything to make her feel this way – it’s clearly just something she was sensitive about. She went straight from being a child in her father’s house to a wife in her husband’s house, and never had any degree of financial independence. If you own your own property, it’s your house and your rules. And even if you eventually end up buying somewhere bigger with a partner, you know that if your relationship ever came to an end, you would be able to manage on your own, because you’ve done it before. I think that kind of knowledge makes people more confident in themselves, which in turn helps them to have healthier and more honest relationships.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:40 pm #

      I know a lot of wives who feel like they missed out on contributing financially to something. Even though they usually contribute in so many other ways, being able to tangibly contribute does bring a sense of pride.

      I do feel very proud that I’ve put myself in a position to be able to do this. I know that no matter what happens in my life, I can take care of myself. This doesn’t mean it’ll be smooth sailing, but that I can tackle life head on.

  6. shreejacob 11/15/2013 at 2:49 am #

    Bravo!!! Sometimes watching movies and having dinner by yourself is awesome 🙂
    And it’s great that you see it as a change of a dream because dreams to change and that makes it all the better…well..most times 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Being alone can be amazing when you see that you’re amazing company.

  7. The Guat 11/15/2013 at 1:08 am #

    HA! I love this … the last line rocks, “my American Nightmare.” I also loved the graphic you included, that cracked me up! Very cool I think we all experience some version of this nightmare some at 30, others at 35, and then there’s 40. But good for you for rolling with it, that’s how to do it.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:37 pm #

      There’s always some kind of nightmare looming, right? It’s all in how we look at it. Lemons into lemonade as they say.

  8. talesfromthemotherland 11/14/2013 at 10:45 pm #

    You go girl! So many women (too many!) own things through their husbands… only finding out later, that everything of monetary value is in their husband’s name, while they were busy raising the kids. I know cliché, but cliché for a reason. So you go! Buy that house, whatever size, and make it your own… and if you build it, the rest will all fall into place. Mazel!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:37 pm #

      This is a great point. Someone I know spent 30 years supporting her husband’s dreams, only to have him leave her for a woman younger than their daughter. He kicked her out, and now she works two retail jobs to support herself.

      • talesfromthemotherland 11/16/2013 at 1:45 pm #

        I’ve seen the scenario up close (not myself) and it is just so awful! I really encourage my own daughter to build her own credit, make her own life… buying a house is such a personal and exciting thing (I think). I am excited for you, Jen!

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:47 pm #

          Thanks! And good on you for fostering that independence in your daughter!

  9. likeitiz 11/14/2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Hey! You go, girl! That loan officer needs more training on current trends and the new norms. Was she some old geezer from two generations ago? They don’t change. It’s their comfort zone. There are people out there who are single, married, co-habiting, dating only, straight, LGBT, SBC, CBC, etc. and, it’s all right!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:36 pm #

      She came across like a rich wife to me, but I can’t confirm that. Sometimes you can just tell. Which is good for her, but that’s not the path everyone wants to take.

  10. bang76 11/14/2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Reblogged this on Life in a Frame and commented:
    I do have dreams for myself too ❤

  11. bang76 11/14/2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I love this post!!! I’ve always wanted to own a house but sometimes circumstances changed and I question myself if I’m really ready for things to change in my life. Really Nice!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:33 pm #

      Are we ever really ready for anything? Marriage? Parenthood? Moving? Home ownership? They’re all big responsibilities, and none of us can predict the future. Sometimes all you can do is use your best judgement, hold your breath, and leap.

  12. antidotetopain76 11/14/2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Reblogged this on antidotetopain76.

  13. georgia + darlin' 11/14/2013 at 4:15 pm #

    good for you! though, not at all a nightmare (though, i very well know the feeling of frustration). you are doing what you want/when you want and not allowing anyone or anything to stop you. sounds like a dream to me! someone is bound to come along for that ride, for sure.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Reminds me of this quote I love: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson”

      I’m always blazing my own trail, regardless of what other people say.

  14. Elyse 11/14/2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Everybody’s dreams are different and everybody’s change. And no matter if you’re married or single, you want the other one.

    And it’s waaaaay past time to retire the “spinster” label. There is a world of difference between un married women of yore and today’s. Experience and freedom.

    You go Girl!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Agreed! Spinster is such an ugly word. I prefer the term “permanently unattached”.

      • Elyse 11/16/2013 at 1:44 pm #

        How about dimly “independent.”

  15. mytwistedroad 11/14/2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I think it’s great that you are in a position to buy a house. 🙂

    Just one recommendation. Avoid making any sudden changes to your financial status. This includes transfers and deposits. You’ll have to have accountability for all money.

    Good luck in achieving your American Nightmare! It’s going to be awesome!

    • mytwistedroad 11/14/2013 at 3:33 pm #

      Ohhh, and that lady … well, she obviously would have never had the balls to buy a house on her own.

      • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:29 pm #

        Not to be presumptuous about her, but she had a HUGE rock on her finger. I’m guessing her husband helped buy her their house, and that’s great for her. I tend to be a little rogue.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:28 pm #

      I am pretty boring when it comes to spending. I have the same amount going to the same accounts, and really only charge my bills. I’m like a 65 year old in a 31 year old’s body.

  16. biancacmarais 11/14/2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Loved this post – going to send it to a few friends who still think that they need to wait to meet a man before their lives can begin instead of living now!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:27 pm #

      There’s no better time to start being happy than right now. Sometimes it’s easier when you’re totally alone.

  17. bloggerau 11/14/2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I absolutely love this!!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks, girl! Had a chance to go through some of your posts today. Great stuff. Glad to have met you here 🙂

  18. mari 11/14/2013 at 12:55 pm #

    An absolute lien on your heart, but all worth it!

  19. thestoryofrei 11/14/2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Oh my has the last year or so ever been similar for me. Health issues, break-up with long term boyfriend, etc. but I’m finally starting to live my life the way you describe “My entire adulthood has been spent doing the things I want, regardless of whether someone else was along for the ride.” So I’m pretty darned happy. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:19 pm #

      Good for you! Funny how life kicks you in the balls, and then turns around and makes up for it by showing you that picking yourself can give yourself something better than you expected.

  20. Exile on Pain Street 11/14/2013 at 12:07 pm #

    With all due respect to Mme. Weebs, renting is like setting money on fire. I should know. I did it for 20+ years. You’re doing the right thing. Get yourself some equity.

    I spent years and years alone and never had a problem with it. Sometimes, I miss my autonomy.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:19 pm #

      I think it depends on where you live. Coming from Silicon Valley, buying is a joke that property owners are playing on people who live there. 800k for a tiny condo? Uh, no thanks.

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