It was the summer of 2005. I was 29 and decided it was time to purchase my first home. It would turn out to be the best decision I ever made in life, while simultaneously being the worst financial decision I’ve ever made. As you know, the real estate market tanked shortly thereafter and now I’m stuck with a mortgage that is much greater than my home’s value. But I wouldn’t change a thing. You see, the place I purchased changed my life.
I always knew I wanted to live in a loft. I would see them in movies with exposed brick, no doors, and will windows and think that would be a cool place to live. So I saved some money in my 20s, working at a job I despised. And when it came time to purchase a home, I bought a cool loft in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. I was living the life. Didn’t have much furniture, but I made sure to get a reclining couch and big screen TV.
A few weeks later, I was heading to my door when the door next to mine popped open. An attractive girl around my age came out and said, ‘Are you my new neighbor?’ Little did I know at the time, but this would become the mother of my child about a year later.
You see, aside from sharing 4.3 speed, Travis Benjamin and I have something else in common – we knocked up our girlfriends. Don’t think just cuz you went to private school your whole life and are cautious about every purchase you make that you, too, can’t knock up your girlfriend. It just takes one little swimmer to make it past the goalie.
To make a long story short, I started dating my neighbor in the fall of 2005. Things were moving along and in the early part of 2006 she asked me to meet her family. It was great. Her family was warm and welcoming. The ‘new boyfriend’ was treated as one of their own. Things were goin well. Then about a week later, on a Thursday night, I got ready for bed. I rarely spent the night at my place any more and this night was no different than the others. As I lay in bed, about to fall asleep, my girlfriend leans over and says the following words I will never forget:
‘Mike, I haven’t started yet.’
‘No, I haven’t STARTED yet.’
Ohhhhh. Oh. Whoa. And with that my ability to sleep 8 hours consecutively disappeared.
Holy sh-t! To grasp the magnitude of this moment you must first understand the kind of person I am. Whenever I purchase something, whether it be a toaster or a TV, I meticulously comb through ads and the Internet to find the right product and at the right price. I eat with precision, treating my body like a temple. I haven’t had fast food since I was a teenager. I plan out my expenses, my meals, my everything. And then, life throws you a curveball.
In retrospect, we laugh at how spooked I was. This wasn’t in the cards. But, you roll with whatever life gives you. My son is the single greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t know what is in 2nd place, but it’s way back there like the horse that came in 2nd to Secretariat.
The next day I went to Publix and picked up one of those home pregnancy kits. Is this really my life right now? I made sure to pick up some flowers too. Either way, those were needed. She knew, though. She didn’t have to take the test – she knew she was pregnant. Once that test came back positive, my mind started racing. I started thinking about all the sh-t I need to do to get my life in order. Where are we gonna live? (Are we gonna live together?) Start saving. Where’s the child going to go to school? Cancel your Netflix subscription so you can afford diapers (seriously, I canceled Netflix).
The next few months were a nervous blur. But then we went to the hospital to get a sonogram done. I thought for sure it would be a girl, and while all I wanted was a healthy baby, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a boy. When that lab technician used her mouse cursor to point to my son’s tiny penis, it was the greatest moment of my life. A boy. Ahhhh. Someone I can take to Hurricanes games. Play racquetball with.
We didn’t get married right away because neither of us wanted to. Our families thought it would be in the best interest of the child, but wouldn’t rushing into marriage when you’re not ready be the worst thing for the child? Why jeopardize the relationship for some old fashioned standards? So, we took our time. We eventually moved in together that year and got married last year.
My son is now 5 and in pre-kindergarten. It is the absolute best thing that’s ever happened to me and I highly recommend it. I’m not sayin to punch holes in your condoms, but parenthood – as long as you have the means to do so – will make you a better person. At times I’ll check the real estate values in my neighborhood. I’ll get discouraged when I hear that a loft in our building foreclosed for half of what I paid for mine. And then I’ll realize that I probably would have never met my wife if I hadn’t made this purchase. To me, it’s the best way to throw away a few hundred thousand dollars. Despite what the numbers say, I got a bargain on my home.