High Maintenance Homes and Girls

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

It’s strange where a woman on her own will focus her financial priorities. With the real estate market stale here since Hurricane Katrina—as in no one wants to live near the coast anymore—I’ve seen my assets decrease substantially in the past year, especially since I had to plunk most of my net worth into the house to buy it in the divorce so I could provide some stability for the kids. And that didn’t include the new roof and extensive updates and replacements of things that had really not been maintained for the past decade.

Flying By Night novelOne thing I did not want to sink a lot of money into was a new deck.

The old wooden one had rotted out, or at least enough so to be dangerous, several years ago, and I’d worked on demolishing it myself before I had to call a demolition crew for help. The “landscaper” who gave us a proposal for the replacement—$15,000 with a strong possibility of additional costs to complete the job—had proposed $3,000 for the pavers alone. She was not allowed back into my house after her second visit, right after my ex paid her $492 for a shoddy proposal with the wrong dimensions, the wrong features, the wrong plants, the wrong everything—and a proposal I never agreed to pay for.

But given the work that needs to be done and that I seriously want to have back steps again, too, I figured I’d be paying around $3000 in materials for the entire deck replacement. And I was prepared to spend that. I had set the money aside. Hopefully, if I ever sell the house, I can get back something close to what I paid my ex for it, plus the repairs.

While pricing out possible solutions two weekends ago with me, Aislinn spotted some pavers and stones that we all loved. Last weekend, Shannon and I measured the area and drew up our plans, then placed the order with The Big Home Repair Store in Crestview. So, we have supplies arriving after I return from my writer’s conference in Daytona, and at less than half of the phony landscaper’s quote for pavers.

So the deck project will be a special project for the girls and me to create together—including the labyrinth design on the main area and another design on the smaller area. We’re excited.

But on the way home, I was thinking about how much the deck replacement will cost and about several of my female acquaintances and colleagues who are in their late 30’s and early 40’s. All married. All having major “work” done—on themselves, not their homes.

They’ve thought nothing of spending $5000 to $15,000 to have a few refurbishments made to their bodies. And I’m by no means against that. Some are having breast augmentations done at 37 and 38. Others are having lifts done. Two have had their entire torsos rebuilt.

Did I mention they’re all having affairs, too? Yes, they told me. In explicit detail. The oldest guy is 32. The youngest can’t even drink legally.

So I look at the credit card receipt in my hand from the store and realize that I didn’t have any trouble justifying the need for a major repair to the exterior of my home, but I would have trouble justifying the same amount of money for a major repair to my own exterior.

Maybe I just need a boyfriend in his 20’s to spur me into action. Let’s hope I’ve invested in the right thing!