Capitalism at Home
I mean, my house is as much a monument to consumerism as your average American middle class house. We have incredible amounts of stuff. Look at most of the rest of the world, or go back 100 years, and the amount of stuff we have would have indicated almost kingly wealth. But I have this illusion that the house isn't about commerce. It's where I live. It's not a house, a commodity, it's a home, a sort of physical extension of my identity. (I have a similar feeling about my writing.) It's safe. Close the door and there is the world out there and the safety of in here.
Now there's a key box on my front door. I am asking the world out there to come into my house, please. Love my house. Buy my house. Oh, and don't notice the nick in the wall in the foyer where when we were bringing in the armoire we hit the wallboard. I make beds, fluff pillows, put roses in the foyer, turn on all the lights, take every bit of evidence of the dogs, including especially the dogs themselves, pile into the car sweaty, middle-aged, over weight and disheveled, leaving behind a clean shining house with a table set for an elegant dinner and everything suggesting a life of ease and beauty. I think of the illusion we've worked so hard to create. People walking through the house, hopefully feeling that if they lived here, there would be some beauty and elegance, comfort and cleanliness in their lives that wasn't there in the old house. While the dogs and I are splitting a bag of French fries and then going to the dog park. I sit there with my dogs. I'm wearing a t-shirt with paint stains on it, and I need a haircut so my hair is beginning to have that long, scraggly unkempt look I personally associate with certain kinds of working class women who don't cover their gray, wear polyester and have gone to seed, so to speak. Not exactly the person I think the house is projecting. The woman of the cream colored roses, the 100 year old antique china, the polished wood floors.
It's a lie conducted in the interest of making money which is a particularly egregious aspect of capitalism. It's not a lie on the order of, say, concealing a toxic waste dump or selling a house I don't own. Nothing I am doing is even remotely against the law. But it is still creepy. And I fall so easily into it. The beautiful dairy farm behind our house is being sold to developers. We don't know what's going to happen, but there is every chance that the view of trees and cows at the end of my backyard will be replaced by the backs of houses. I find myself hoping that the prospective buyers don't know that. Legally I am not responsible for anything I don't own, so I have no legal responsibility to say, hey, that all might go away. It was in the newspaper, it's public knowledge. But still, the whole sense of deceit, of hiding something, makes me miserable. But it doesn't make me leave a note that says, 'FYI, this view is at risk.'
I think my house is a great house, by the way. I think that whoever buys it, and we have some interested parties, is going to get a good place. But it still feels as if I am selling something personal, some sense of myself, and that I am tarting it up a bit.