The House

By L.E. Swenson

Yippeee! We are homeowners. We have our own little swath of dirt. The country’s forefathers would now allow us to vote. Two renters who now have walls and roof and appliances and Furnace and Hot Water Heater and Central Air unit and stop me before I puke. And no one to call when something breaks except the “repair man.” Unless you have a service contract but that is a whole other discussion.

Our own patch of dirt. When I was in college, I used to say that I never wanted to own property. I would say, “The Native Americans have it right! You can’t own the earth, you can only borrow it!!” Oh how wrong I was. After paying rent to a New York slum lord for 10 years a piece, sweetie and I were ready to have our own little piece of the American Dream. Now, I say, our own patch of dirt, but the most important thing all you house owners and future house owners should be aware of is that it is not about the dirt. When you move to the suburbs, it is about the lawn! But that is another blog entirely.

You don’t know it when you buy it, but the House is a living organism. When you buy one, you enter into a symbiotic, parasitic relationship with this entity. It eats–energy and natural gas. It excretes through the sewage pipes and it even has exhausts for the dryer, furnace and even the sewage pipes to let unwanted gasses out. The house breathes; it expands and contracts with the weather and exchanges air through every unsealed crack and crevasse. The only thing the house does not do is heal. That is where we symbiotes come in. In trade for the comfort of coolness on hot days, heat on cold days, shelter from the rain and safety from wild animals, we get to keep the house in good repair and healed. I am not talking about beauty and interior design here: I am referring to the bare minimum of what makes the house a modern shelter.

In our first six months, we had to replace the roof, the siding, 1 bathroom. We had 2 radiator leaks and the furnace nearly burned down the HOUSE. But we helpful parasites went about our business of repair to our living, breathing HOUSE. Our first instinct was to call the superintendent. Oh crap! We are the superintendent. Fortunately, there are armies of tradesmen and corporate contractors dying to lend us money to make our repairs. I have come to accept that I cannot hammer a straight nail and that it is not high on my priority list to improve my carpentry skills, so in the end, the tradesmen get the call, the debts rise and the blood pressure spikes. Not to worry, it is all in service of the HOUSE!


L.E. Swenson received his bachelor’s degree in English from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo. He went on to study Theater at the New School for Social Research and received his Masters of Fine Arts in 1999. He has performed in regional theater at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theater and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. He has written, acted, coached and stage managed in the New York area and continues to write and work in New York.

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