Picture credit: Pinterest
I’ve talked about it many times before, my upbringing as well as that, that applies to conventional society and the expectations that are placed onto us . I am not the only one who was raised with certain standards, programs and expectations so we can grow up to be responsible adults. These programs consist of values passed on from generation to generation, sharing the wisdom of what is important in life, meant to guide us on our way. Fact is, that it often takes years and years, sometimes even a lifetime to learn that these teachings are not in line with our most authentic self. From there we spend a lifetime unlearning what we have been taught in order to find ourselves.
We are trained to do well in school. Later we search for a job that pays great, that offers a successful career so we can acquire “the toys” to validate our hard work. These possessions include cars, material wealth and the biggest burden of all, a house. While it’s nice to have your own roof over your head instead of putting money into someone else’s pocket, the many years of sacrifice it takes until you hopefully own it one day, often go unseen. The years it takes until that lucky day comes, are often swept under the carpet. It’s just the way it is, and one needs to work hard for the luxury of owning a house, to provide a place for themselves and to raise a family. The long hours of work, the years of budgeting, and the monthly expenses are accepted in silence, they are a part of it, and simply the price one has to pay. Here in America the average loan takes 30 years to pay off. 30 years of your best life. What is instilled into us is to work hard, to have something to show for (the material things) and to uphold certain standards. This pressure can amount to such enormous levels that we see ourselves in constant competition to keep up with the Jones’s.
Until just recently I was paying for a mortgage too, and it would have taken another 15 years to pay it off until I could fully call it mine. I’d have to wait until I was 71 to finally enjoy financial freedom. To travel, be able to retire with enough to make a living and enjoy whatever life I’d have left. Today’s youth is growing up differently and smarter in many ways. They know much earlier what they want and where to invest their energy into. There is not a lack of people wanting to own their own house, but we are finding alternatives such as tiny living and embracing minimalism for financial independence. We no longer become slaves to our financial obligations and we are finding a way to push a healthy work-life balance into the foreground as a must.
After Mom’s passing in 2019 and being the only child, I inherited her house in Germany which now is mine. It’s been on my mind constantly since. Shortly after Mom passed I was asked about what I will do with the house. Will I sell it, will I keep it, what was next! How lucky I was to have inherited it the begin with, given that it takes 30 years of hard work to pay it off in most cases. And some people never even make it and get that lucky to own their own home. I was definitely better off than most. Here I was paying for my home in America while inheriting one, fully paid in Germany.
It seemed impossible to come up with an answer, let alone consider the possibility of selling it. I was undecided and torn. During my 10 month stay to care for Mom in 2018 and the 3 month in 2019, I surrounded myself with the walls that held Mom for so many years. The walls that shielded her from the outside world, made her somewhat of a hermit, living in the past and that became her time, decades that stood still. It was those very walls that knew her story, which had seen her pain, the tears and her loneliness. It was the walls that held the memory of my father who died tragically while the remodel for the house was still underway. It was the memory, a memorial to my Dad that remained unchanged since 1974, and perhaps these walls were the last place where Mom considered herself happy. I felt close to her within those walls, a closeness I have always chased during her living years, and here in her most intimate quarters, I felt it all. The heaviness and all the emotions surrounding it. She always wanted me home and in a way it was as if my being there was saying “your girl is finally here, I have finally come home.” Too late to enjoy this time together, while you were alive, but home, taking care of her castle, the house that meant so much to her.
For quite some time, I honestly believed that I would return to Germany, renovating and living in my parents house. A house stuck in the theme of 1974, the time Dad passed. Not having a mortgage, no longer paying these monthly dues was appealing, and I thought that I could leave behind my adult life of 30 some years spent here in the States, to find peace and serenity in the countryside of the small village I had left behind so many years. It wasn’t that this grown up country girl had become a city girl and couldn’t see herself in a small village anymore. It was quite the opposite and by now I was yearning for the silence Mom embraced for so many years. Not the loneliness, but the serenity and the absence of noise. I didn’t mind to be in a small village. A place everybody knew everybody, a place that sometimes enjoys a bit of gossip, (the very thing that drove me nuts growing up there) and every time I was back “home” I found it hard to leave again.
More than a year passed after leaving the house empty and wrestling with the subject of what to do until I finally could sort my feelings. By now two years have passed and my findings are still the same. The house is always on my mind and I constantly worry about it standing empty, a shell of what used to be, a reminder of loneliness and pain. Despite of feeling the vibrations and emotions of pain while I stayed in the house, it never discouraged me and I always thought that my love was stronger, and that it could replace and fill these walls with happier emotions. I still feel the same and I know I could, but I lack the motivation to turn it into reality. I am tired and I finally realize that it will always be my parents house instead of my own. It doesn’t matter that it is in my name and that I am the sole owner of it, it was “their thing”, their goal, their dream, their hard work.
I no longer want to hold on to a house that was my parents dream, but not necessarily mine. I know that if I moved back to Germany, it would be to uphold their vision and deny my own. I don’t want to compromise anymore and I am late to chase my own dreams. In my decision making time I struggled with Mom seeing me as most ungrateful, perhaps feeling that I was not deserving of inheriting her house. Perhaps she would feel like she should have donated it to the church like she mentioned once in a fight, and perhaps this is all warranted and true. But it’s out of my control if I want to be true to myself. I am most grateful for the opportunity to live there or to sell it so I can chase my own sanctuary. It has not been easy, struggling with all these thoughts of what to do, the guilty feelings and wanting to do the right thing by her. In the end I realize that the right thing in her eyes would be something that holds me back. Moving to Germany would have been fueled by the yearning to be accepted by Mom, doing what she would have expected. I was looking for her approval, something I had chased all my life, the approval from someone that was no longer here. I realized the motivation behind my thoughts, to finally do the right thing and redeem myself for all the years of being gone and having disappointed her. I was too late, she was gone, or could it be that she would smile down from heaven in approval, finally giving me that sign.
For the longest I wanted to hold on to my house here in the states. I’ve worked so hard for it and it had many custom and special features. But that mortgage was definitely a ball and chain that kept me on a tight leash, unable to live life as I see it. Selling it to move to Germany was hard to envision. Leaving all comforts for a house that needs to be remodeled just to meet today’s standard was a daunting vision and a costly one. Shelling out all that money just to have something that was never my vision, was hard to imagine. And not having children of my own to pass it on to some day. Yes I could have sold it and applied the money to the mortgage I had here. It would have made a big dent into the remaining balance but even that was no longer me as I was downsizing, not needing all that space anymore, nor wanting the responsibility of it all. I was well on my way of becoming a minimalist.
My life underwent a transition phase, one that was reevaluating what is truly needed, where I see myself in the future, what dreams I want to chase, downsizing in the meantime to a little place of bliss and happiness. It is ever evolving and new doors continue to open whether I am ready to walk through them or not. I was leaning towards something radical, to sell both places and to truly pursue my happiness. The “The Tiny Abode” surely was something radical and it’s more and more becoming a home, although I don’t see it as a permanent one. The decision sounded right, logical and perfect and yet it’s been a complex endeavor but also a fun process. It feels right and I know that I am working towards my dream, my peace, what I deserve, being my own boss, and never returning to that rat race again. It means financial freedom to collect moments, memories and experiences versus material things. Now that I finally see the path clearly I need to go to Germany and take care of a house that is a ghost of the past. A house that is in dire straits, a house that is falling apart and a house that is keeping me from my destiny.