For most of my life, I resisted domestication.
Yes, for a while I was married and lived in a rambler, but even then I fought my own little (largely imaginary) battle against becoming a Great American Homemaker. I brazenly snubbed the norm by:
a.) Refusing to buy chalk-painted signs about the lake;
b.) Resisting the urge to watch HGTV; and
c.) Covertly hiring Merry Maids to clean the house whenever my then-husband was out of town.
I suspect some of this stemmed from a rebellious and independent streak that has plagued me throughout life, and which made it difficult for me to conform. But the real culprit may have been that I was a disinterested and easily distracted housekeeper who wanted to paint murals on the ceiling rather than vacuum the floor.
I wasn't hausfrau-sy, just haus-lousy.
Since my divorce, I lived in a variety of rentals before buying a condo. These arrangements allowed me to decorate with a funky mid-century vibe without committing to perennials, matching furniture or shiplap.
Then I moved into my new home, and something changed. Weird as it may sound, I feel like I am actually living in a "grown-up" house for the first time since I moved out of my parents' home.
I have a big kitchen, a front-loading washer/dryer set and two and a half bathrooms. I have a porch and a garage that is actually attached to my house. Sometimes, I can't believe I live here. It feels like I'm just housesitting until the real owners come home, and ask why I'm painting a mural on the ceiling.
A couple of weeks ago, I mowed the lawn. With a push mower. And a concern that I wasn't mowing in the same direction as my neighbors did.
I am a true homeowner who lives in a very quiet, pretty, tree-filled area which is located between a soccer field and a park. It's the type of place where the neighbors have block parties and welcome newcomers with a pie.
I have become obsessed with the state of the water drainage around the north wall of the house and researched the pros and cons of sandjacking. I own my own toolshed, have become remarkably good at hanging curtain rods and am embarrassed what the neighbors might think of the spindly state of my petunias.
And you know what? It doesn't seem strange at all. I actually love it. I like the friendliness of the neighbors, and the fact that they will stop and introduce themselves. I like that people will wave at me from their yards and that they seem to watch out for each other. I used to say to my parents that I would never live in a small town again, but this part of the world has a small-town vibe, and I really like it.
Of course, with familiarity comes responsibility. As I'm no longer living on a busy street in the middle of the city, I can no longer blend in with some of the more colorful residents in my old neighborhood. That means I can no longer walk the dog while trying to pass off a nightshirt that reads: "It's too people-y outside" as daywear. I may have to buy a sign about the lake.
And I definitely have to do something about those petunias.
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org.