A Home of One’s Own: It Starts With a Series of Questions

Photo: Georgetown/Wikimedia Commons

I blame sophisticated digital marketing campaigns for the current state of my mind, which is anxious, by the way. Can a 31-year-old woman go for a Pandora-fueled run without being accosted by ads suggesting it may be time to freeze her eggs? Can I live?

Not a day goes by without being confronted with a presumptuous ad about my reproductive system. Whether it’s a call for compassionate Asian women to donate eggs or to register for a free fertility consultation, I am made keenly aware that this is a time in many women’s lives where epic decisions are made.

I’m not there yet.

But I would be lying if I said it didn’t leave me with a nagging feeling while I sort through the epic decision I am currently faced with: Buying a home of my own.

This is a quality problem. Years of thoughtful budgeting and carefully considered decisions led me to this moment. After years of exceedingly high rent payments, I almost can’t believe I am able to say I am going to purchase a home in one of the most expensive cities in the country — Washington, D.C.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the struggle to accept and/or defend the demographic in which I belong (single, female, upwardly mobile, I think?) and the ethical dilemmas born from these tensions.

It starts with a series of questions:

• Do I want to live in a small one-bedroom/one-bath apartment in an established, desirable (pricey) neighborhood?

• Is this a home that could contain my life if it were to expand to include other people?

• Am I unethical and opportunistic for considering “up and coming” areas, where I could purchase a two-bedroom/two-bath apartment for the same price point?

• Or am I self-righteous, naïve or unwise not to consider this?

• Can all of the above be true, at the same time? Can I ever dare to dream of a three-bedroom row house?

I don’t have the answers to these questions just yet. I suspect I never will have the right answers to these uncomfortable questions, but I think I could settle for an uneasy truce. What I know is the following:

The relationship between what I plan, what I hope for, and what actually unfolds in this crazy, wild life of mine is tenuous. If the trajectory of my life thus far has anything to say, it would agree with this statement. In no way did I imagine the circumstances of my life today be mine, at age 21 or 11. I suspect this will continue to be true at 41 and 51, if I am so lucky.

I suppose the next step for me to take is forward and just trust that life is unfair, but it’s still good.

This post is the first of a new, short series.

Michelle Song is a writer and wannabe hippie working incognito in a Fortune 500 company. She dreams of growing her own avocados, among other things.

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