Gay Dads: With a Growing Family, Do We Renovate or Move?
By: John Jericiau
More than 18 years ago I was nearing the end of a restful night’s sleep in my Santa Monica condo with my three Dalmatians surrounding me when I was shaken awake by a violent thrust. It was a 50 second visit by the now infamous Northridge earthquake. Glasses broke, dogs whimpered, and neighbors screamed. My first reaction, however, and one that makes me chuckle as I think back on it, was to throw on my track shoes and run – no, sprint – one mile to the house that I was contracted to purchase if I could just make it through three more weeks of escrow. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw that, unlike some other homes in Santa Monica, this one suffered zero damage.
A few weeks later I was living in the house, and in it I remain. Men, roommates, and pets have come and gone, and for the last 8 years a family has grown from two to three to four and now in 17 weeks or so will be five strong. The house has little wear and tear, but my husband and I have noticed that what once seemed like an endless amount of rooms and space has dwindled down to cramped quarters.
Our first plan of attack is to upgrade our outdoor space. The house is blessed with a large lot (for a beach community), and I’ve done little to take advantage of it besides a Jacuzzi (very 80’s), a ping pong table (so 90’s), and an array of toys strewn about (timeless). Some landscaping, a tree house, a swing set, and an outdoor kitchen would go a long way to giving the house a more spacious feel.
Next we’d like to tear down our attached single car garage and turn it into a double car garage, which will be used as guest quarters/rec room/gym (don’t tell the city!). We may even be able to add a room above this “double garage” and get even more space while we’re at it.
Finally we’ll turn our attention to the inside of the house. We can throw out some of the clunky old furniture we have and replace it with sleek modern stuff. We have an unused sun deck on the third level of our house (okay, the sun deck IS the third level) that we’d love to enclose and use as an office, since sunbathing is no longer a part of our lives. We can tear down a kitchen wall and create an open floor plan.
So there is potential in this trusted house. The location is amazing, with the beach, parks, school, shopping, movie theaters, library, pool, and soon a train station all within walking distance from us. And sprinkled around are plenty of play dates (e.g. boys’ classmates) and some friends (i.e. the parents of these classmates).
But there is yet another option to our space dilemma. We could move. Why not just relocate to a place that already has everything we want so we don’t have to go through the demolition and reconstruction? Why not make a fresh start? Other gay families boast about their gay “neighborhoods” (we definitely don’t live in one) and their gay-friendly schools (that remains to be seen here). It would be really really nice to see a few other gay families in our part of town.
Our entire family, boys included, loves hot weather, so would it be that bad to live in the Valley, for example, with its intense heat? It’s nothing that a pool and some air conditioning can’t temper, right? And West Hollywood is surrounded by some of the worst traffic in the nation, but can it be that much worse than the beach around dinnertime, when everyone and their grandmother are trying to leave the beach area and return to their inland homes?
It’s really up in the air what’s going to happen. We’re not sure what’s better, a slice of nirvana or a larger chunk of heaven. Either way, we can’t go wrong, because home – wait for it – is where the heart is.
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