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Monday, October 31, 2011

The New American Dream: Downsizing

It is the first thing off someones lips who is selling their home now. I'm downsizing. Used to be people whose kids had gone off to college would downsize, now everyone is doing it. Apologies to all those still in search of the perfect McMansion, but everyone I bump into including myself talks about one thing: getting into something smaller with less taxes and less mortgage. It has become the new American Dream.

In my last novel, Rocket Man, the main character finally  gets his dream and is able to short sale his house away and go back toward the city and live in a bungalow. This is the polar opposite of the steady march of America which probably began with the first Puritans who decided a bigger log cabin was better and from then on the implied assumption was that materialism was next to Godliness and a big house put you into the Big Mans Favor.

Gatsby, right? Jay Gatsby's pride and joy, his magnet for Daisy was his home. A mansion he resurrected on the Long Island sound to show the world he had made it. The American Dream was at its zenith during the twenties and there was nothing more American than a bigger home. Bigger does not only belong to Texas, it is wrapped up in the swagger of American prowess. Let the Europeans live in their bungalows and row houses...we live in Giant Homes. We live in mansions.

But then of course that all came crashing down much like the Hindenburg with all the concomitant horror. Suddenly the big house no longer represented prosperity or at least upward mobility, now it had become an albatross around our neck...a prison of debt and sinking good fortune. Our homes could literally make us homeless now with the specter of upside down mortgages and foreclosure.

So the race is on to downsize. Who knows where it will end, but like Dale Hammer says at the end of Rocket Man  and is sitting in the small yard of his new home: I was finally where I was meant to be.

Lucky him.

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Rocket Man


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Books by William Hazelgrove