It was almost a divorce this week. Between me and Alpine. Town of my birth and my spiritual home for 66 ½ years. Like no other, it’s a home in the Texas Mountains, which most of world doesn’t even know exists.
I’m forced to consider the question: “Should I stay or should I go? If I go, there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double.” And so on. Maybe you know the song.
The pros and cons of keeping my grandparent’s house, when I actually live hundreds of miles away, rolls around in my head like the rocks the house was built with. Being smack dab on westward leading Highway 67/90 is not ideal. In 1929 when they built the original house, the highway was not near.
As decades folded over, the highway was moved closer and traffic multiplied. My grandmother took advantage of the increased exposure and propped either a Room for Rent or Pecans for Sale sign on the porch, resulting in a nice nest egg. After she died, my granddad passed the years sitting on his porch watching cars and trucks. Some in Alpine still remember him sitting there, boots on the ledge and cowboy hat pulled down just so. Finally, he became age-appropriate paranoid and began answering the door with a shotgun.
And now it’s 2015 and drivers veer off the adjacent road because they are asleep or inebriated. Twice in the last five years, they’ve veered onto my property. At the least, I should change this blog’s name to “Into the Porch”. Because that’s what happened this time.
The last dark and icy New Year’s Eve, an uninvited driver forced him or herself onto my porch and plowed their vehicle into one of four rock columns, the one that anchored the carport. No one was home and no one was hurt. I’m pretty sure the car or truck took a hit, but I’ll never know.
Here’s what I have to say to the interloper and destroyer of property: No means no.
No, you weren’t invited to drive into my house, but since you did, the least you could do is stay and explain yourself. Would offering to pay for the damage be out of the question? Perhaps you have insurance, or perhaps you don’t. I do, but just the minimum with a high deductible. You?
The trusty caretaker informed me that, after mowing into and knocking down the lava rock column, the perps tried to clean up the mess they made, ultimately taking the rocks. I believe that’s theft. And what? Cleaning it up was going to make a missing column less obvious?
Absentee ownership is a challenge. I am grateful that I have a house-sitter and caretaker, but that can change. And there’s upkeep, utility bills, taxes, and insurance. Not to mention the fretting over all that I just mentioned.
Nice problem to have, some would say. A distant cousin has snarkily accused me of keeping the house as a shrine to my pioneer grandparents. Maybe. But is that bad?
Knocking the place down one rock at a time won’t change any memories, but I suppose I’m afraid they will fade and disappear without the physical reminder.
I like showing off Far West Texas to friends and friends of friends, and I hope visitors leave feeling the residual kindness my grandparents were known for. (I am sorry to any who were threatened by my gun-toting grandfather. Most likely, the gun wasn’t loaded.)
Back to the question, should I stay or should I sell? If the house could talk, would it have an answer?
“This indecision’s bugging me,
If you don’t want me, set me free.”
-Lyrics by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer