The Good Old Days

Attempting to live on the cheap, my wife and I have decided not to go the way of cable for our place down in Mesa, and instead embrace streaming, which led us to Roku, which led to this particular unimportant post.

One of the shows I found myself watching, as much on Roku—the free stuff—tends to be from the past, was, in this case, the first five seasons of This Old House, with Bob Vila. Circa 1978 to 1983. Ah, the days of my youth, when all the world stretched before me.

Sort of…

Anyway, what fascinated me is that what was new and shiny and must have in 1980, is what’s old and drab and out of fashion should you tune in to The Property Brothers, or Love It or List It, or any of the normative fare on HGTV which is meant to enlighten the masses on how their “forever” homes should look (as well as direct the viewer to the advertisers supporting the shows). Never mind the absurdity of the concept of a forever home to begin with. Where once you had Bob giving you the low down on what’s new in home heating and energy conservation (solar was big on the early TOH agenda)—white kitchens and stainless steel appliances being nowhere to be found, now you had Jonathan and Drew extolling just that, and bad-mouthing the browns and greens and golds of a bygone era.

Being technically a part of both periods, I find the whole exercise humorous. All that was once new is old, and that which is new is destined to join the old in obscurity, or be the hip new thing 40 years on. Nothing is forever, and houses, at once our homes and a durable quantity of measurable value, are both and neither. A home is where you live till you leave (or die), and its value is only expressed explicitly when it’s sold. Its “value” otherwise is for the express purpose of property taxes and “comparables” thrown around when buying or selling.

Of note when comparing periods, other than marveling at what was worn and how we did up our hair, is how much has changed, but not really. Home security was played up in TOH, now it’s ubiquitous and online. The surveillance state is merely a part of our social media landscape. Hey, look what the neighbors are up to! Look at all the different rooms we have versus one big room where mom can keep an eye on her kids less they befall some terrible fate if not watched constantly. Insulation is a given, and everything is an exercise in creative destruction, minus the unspoken nature of modern housing (like all things it’s not meant to last). Otherwise there’d be no need to blow out a perfectly clean and functioning kitchen simply because it’s not modern or isn’t to one’s tastes.

To be perfectly happy with what’s already in the home seems quaint and quelle horreur. Better to spend thousands of dollars so that when you sell it the next bunch has to spend thousands more.

It’s here that the concept of a forever home washes away, for however long you may occupy a particular domicile, whoever replaces you will no doubt change it in ways you will not approve, which includes your children, assuming you have any—and that will be a concern in the coming years as fewer children join us. But that a rant or sigh for another time. Meanwhile, sit back and watch as house makeovers lull or lure you into rethinking whether your home is adequate or up to date…

And whether that electric stove you ordered in June will ever get here…

©2022 David William Pearce

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