For fellow scribbler, Rochelle, who gave me the number 27 and told me to write about something from that age. It’s a good thing she didn’t give me 25 or I would have relapsed. Here we go:

Not entirely indicative of our neighborhood, but the bullet holes smack of our little slice of heaven

It was May as I recall, at least that’s the month written on the installation ticket pasted to the side of our heat pump, which I had installed as part of the move-in renovations. I’d just bought the 2-bed, 1-bath starter in a neighborhood I was banking on seeing improve. It has, and it hasn’t, but I’m still there. And so is the rest of The Ham Fam, now featuring Carmen and Gabriel, two additions that joined me in Decatur some years later after buying the place at age 27.

What I recall about age 27 is fixing up and moving into that small house. So much potential – it still has a lot despite the major work I’ve had and have done to it. It’s a lesson in seeing what isn’t there. Not unlike writing on a blank page, eh? The cookie-cutter beige boxes on our street with the same picture window plus two standard windows in the living room – nothing special just by looking at it. I had to look beyond it though, to the home within the house.

The hushed size helped me see that the house would do well with rounded archways instead of right-angled doorways. Repairing a damaged living room ceiling, I saw the character that a modest vaulted ceiling and encasing the major support beams in raw cedar would bring the space. Discarded slate pieces became countertops in the bathroom and kitchen.

And I recall the thrill of thinking, “This place is mine.” Nowadays, people ask me if I own my home and I reply that HSBC Mortgage Corporation holds a majority stake, but I’m working toward ownership. Jaded a bit perhaps, but I still love my home. It’s small for us, for sure. And we’ve entertained moving. Still might do so. But there’s so much love in it, thanks to the love that’s gone into it. Frankly, it’d be hard to leave. But who knows – I might get giddy all over again.