There are many things i enjoy about owning a house. I like the security of knowing that I’m not going to suddenly be priced out of my own home by an idiot landlord deciding to up the rent by an extortionate amount. I like the way that if i decide on whim that I want to paint the bathroom, I can do it. I like being able to actually put nails in the wall and hang pictures without worrying that it’s going to lose me my entire deposit.
But I do not like the way that owning a house has suddenly cleared the path for a constant state of completely pointless worry.
I have always enjoyed a good worry, in the loosest possible sense of the word “enjoyed”. As a young teenager I didn’t sit there coming up with amazing fantasies of future life (except that one slightly odd one about living in portacabins in a warehouse and being in a band with my friend Abi which made us so famous that Leonardo DiCaprio saw me on TV and decided he couldn’t live without me and so came to live in the warehouse too). I mostly sat there coming up with worst-case scenarios.
If I had to go up in assembly to collect a certificate I would worry about sitting in the wrong place in the row and tripping over someone’s legs and breaking my arm as I squeezed my way out. If I had to ring a friend I’d never phoned before I’d worry that they’d given me a wrong number and that everyone at school would be laughing at me about it. I hated getting school dinners because I worried that I’d take too long to decide and then everyone behind me in the queue would hate me forever more.
It was oddly enoyable.
And it’s not something that’s gone away with age; it wasn’t a case of I got my first underwire and the ability to mountainise any molehill went away. It mostly just got worse and worse until eventually it got wrapped up in the whole “needs quite a lot of therapy” mess, at which point I kind of learnt to deal with it.
But now I have a house. And, it turns out, having a house is a source of endless worry, because there are SO MANY THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG. Bits can leak, and crack, and fall off. Or, as my brain keeps telling me, topple over entirely.
And the toppling over is the thing that’s got me; I noticed a few cracks in my bathroom ceiling and the next thing I knew I was getting out of bed at 3 in the morning to check the survey to see if I had missed any part of it that said “hey, this house has an absolutely massive case of subsidence and is clearly falling right down”. I ignored the survey when it told me it wasn’t. I spent days googling what you have to do to fix subsidence, and worrying it would affect the market value of the house, or make it entirely unsellable.
And then I read something that told me that the crack in the ceiling would just be the result of lots of humidity in the bathroom. So I became obsessed with the need for a new extractor fan.
Because really, I’m actually OK with things actually going a bit wrong. When the house was broken into I just sorted everything with the police and insurance and got new, super-secure windows. When our car got trapped in a mobile signal-less gully in a South African safari park full of deadly animals, I just got on with helping my friend push it out. When a cash machine in Bolivia ate my debit card and left me penniless in the middle of La Paz, I laughed.
It’s the potential for wrongness that gets me, because until it actually happens there’s sod all I can do about it and that makes me feel powerless and grumpy.
And I’m not quite sure where that leaves me, other than in a slightly stupid position where I might need to keep accidentally-on-purpose causing minor damage to my own property so that I have something to focus my overzealous brain on. Which doesn’t exactly sound like a brilliant idea.
Perhaps I should’ve stayed renting after all.