Just My Thoughts – Building a Home

(Niceville, Florida; August 2, 2021) –  The future Emerald Duck has been revealed.

I’m not talking about an aquatic avian possessing a scintillatingly deep and brilliantly luscious green plumage, nor am I talking about a statue of a water-loving bird carved from a vibrantly green and extraordinarily valuable gemstone.

I’m talking about a townhouse.

I tend to name my homes.  George Washington had Mount Vernon.  Alexander Hamilton had The Grange.  Michael Jackson had Neverland.

So I now have the Emerald Duck…well, I’ll soon have it!

The future Emerald Duck under construction in north-central Pensacola. Pensacola, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 03 August 2021)

The Emerald Duck will be my third Duck.  My first Duck was the Yellow Duck, the house I owned in Suffolk, Virginia.  I named it ‘Yellow Duck’ because of its cheerful yellow siding.  I sold the Yellow Duck when I retired from the Navy and moved on.  The townhouse I rented in Silverdale, Washington, was christened the Mountain Duck because I had a great view of the Olympics from my front door.  Well, now I’m back home in Florida along the Emerald Coast, a stretch of the northern Gulf Coast known for our emerald green waters.

So, the Emerald Duck has been officially christened and, upon its completion and the closing of the sale and all, commissioned as my third Duck!

This is the second time I’ve bought a house.  Oddly enough, this particular experience has more stressful than the first time—back in 2013 in Virginia.  Back in 2013, I was an active duty sailor, so buying a home was an endeavour undertaken outside the normal (and long!) working hours of the Navy.  It wasn’t easy by a long shot, but there was a lower level of stress.  Not much lower, mind you, but lower.

The future Emerald Duck under construction in north-central Pensacola. Pensacola, Florida. (Nathanael Miller, 03 August 2021)

Of course, I was active duty, so most of my attention during the day was on the job (a nice distraction in its way).  I also lived in a place I was renting, and had time to renew that lease if I needed to, so there was no panic in not finding a suitable house to buy.  This time around I’m staying with my folks in the old homestead while my household goods sit in storage awaiting a delivery date and address.  Don’t think my folks resent having me home; quite the reverse.  We’re a pretty tight-knit clan.  However, the reality still exists that my folks have had the house to themselves for near-on 30 years, and I don’t want to even partially upend their habits any longer than I have to.

As to searching for a home, well, I gave myself quite a commute.  I’m in Niceville, but decided to buy a place over in Pensacola, which is about 50 miles west of us.  That meant I had an hour-long drive (one way) every day just to get to Pensacola to house-hunt, and, as the only thing I was doing was house-hunting, I had no major distractions to give my mind a break.

Odd how being retired and having the time to go slowly and at a more relaxed pace can provide a stress level all its own!

It’s an irrational reality, but every day that I passed on houses created its own stress level.  I had to make some hard choices on what I really want vs. what I just want.  I want a yard; I love green space, but I’m a single guy and already have had the experience of trying to maintain a yard that took three hours to mow (just mow; add an extra hour on that for edging and tidying up).  I’ve already had the experience of having my roof pop a nifty leak during a storm, and the experience of having to find a roofer I trusted to fix it…and then wait (and pay) for the fix.  I’ve had the experience of living in a pretty big place alone and feeling both like I was rattling around in an empty tomb and frustrated because cleaning the inside took over two hours due to its size.  I want a nice big home, but really want a low level of weekly maintenance.

I therefore decided to go with the townhouse option.  After a week of searching, fate played a clever hand; my realtor sent me a listing for a townhouse development under construction in Pensacola with one (yep, just one) end-unit still available.  If I’m going to townhouse it, I want the end unit.  I visited the model a couple of times and went to check out what will be my unit when it’s complete.  The completion date is set for the end of September, meaning I won’t be able to move in until October, but the new community, the house’s floorplan, the HOA’s responsibilities, and the neighborhood’s location in Pensacola checked off all of my ‘must have’ boxes, and quite of a few of the ‘nice to have’ boxes as well.

I’m not afraid to make a fast decision, so I signed the sales agreement and took couple of days within the ‘opt-out’ window to think it over.  I couldn’t find any real downside, I’m going forward.  My Mom suggested the name Emerald Duck since we live on the Emerald Coast.  I liked it and adopted it.

The hardest part now is deceleration.  I’ve been running on a high-tempo schedule ever since the packers came to the Mountain Duck in Washington State back in early May.  I packed out that house, took a long cross-country road trip that lasted three months, bringing me from the Pacific Northwest to the Grand Canyon, across Texas, up the East Coat to Gettysburg and Mechanicsburg in Pennsylvania before circling back through Tennessee into Florida.  I’m feeling an odd sense of frustration and impression of being stuck—exactly the kind of emotional ‘deceleration’ I and many servicemembers experienced upon coming home from deployment.

As unsettling and uncomfortable as it is, deceleration is a good problem to have.  It is a real emotional adjustment that must be made (ask any military member who just returned from a busy deployment), but it’s a welcome one if you maintain a decent perspective.  After all, ‘perspective’ is a state of mind in which you compare your present situation to what you’ve been through in the past and what you know others are going through, and then judge how grateful to be for what you have in front of you instead of focusing on those things you lack.  This doesn’t negate the reality of your difficulties, but it makes them easier to work through by preventing them from seeming overwhelming and keeping you from feeling isolated, alone, unheard, and relatively on your own.  Sadly, ‘perspective’ is something significantly lacking in our society today.

Here in our nation of abundance we tend to forget that what we want usually isn’t the same as what we need.  Many our needs are largely met; our frustration often results from the simple fact that these needs are simply not met in the way we want.  Perspective does not negate the many real problems our nation full of fallible, foible-full humans face, but it does ratchet down the panicky fracas of ‘how terrible things are!’ when we realize just what each of does have compared to places like the deeply impoverished in Africa or the religiously terrorized in Iran.

…Just my thoughts!

Check out my video on this topic at: https://youtu.be/jSkOG23-clw

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