My husband and I have spent the past seven months renovating a vacant house, and we're finally moving into it this weekend.
To say my thoughts have been dominated by this house — and all the work involved in making it habitable again — is an understatement.
So it was a bit jarring to hear the president of the United States suggest that maybe houses don't deserve all that much consideration, after all.
"Don't worry about your house," President Donald Trump said, in comments to the Wall Street Journal encouraging residents of upstate New York to move to places where job prospects are better.
Don't worry about your house?
This falls into the category of advice I'd love to take, but know is ill-advised.
Trust me, I'd love not to worry about my house.
But it's the biggest investment I've ever made in my life, and I don't have that luxury. Nor do most Americans.
In fact, sometimes people email to tell me that they would pick up and move — if only they could sell their homes without taking a major financial hit. Maybe it's easy to walk away from a house if you're a billionaire. Most people aren't billionaires, though.
Trump's remarks are easy to mock — where, exactly, is this "upper New York State" he referred to? — but they got a huge reaction, and there's a reason why.
In his clumsy way, the president tapped into something that's a real concern, especially if you live upstate — the steady loss of manufacturing jobs, and subsequent population decline. I saw more than one person remark that Trump's remarks made sense — that people should relocate to communities with better opportunities.
Which might be a good strategy for some people.
But it's not a real solution to the region's struggles.
It doesn't create jobs for the people who live in upstate New York,and it doesn't make it easier for people to buy and own homes, or to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy when times get tough.
If anything, Trump's remarks suggest he believes upstate New York is so hopeless that the process of disinvestment and abandonment that began decades ago should be accelerated. Rather than developing a strategy for fighting these trends, people should embrace the inevitable and look elsewhere for hope and prosperity.
How you feel about Trump's remarks probably depends on how you feel about upstate New York.
If you feel things are never going to get better, you might have found yourself nodding your head with approval. If you feel things are getting better — and will continue to get better — you probably found yourself frowning a little bit as you processed the president's words.
Personally, I think things are getting better.
But you don't have to look too far to find evidence of hardship and decline, especially when you survey the Capital Region's housing stock.
Thousands of area residents have walked away from their homes, usually as a result of some sort of calamity, which is why vacant, deteriorating properties abound. The typical vacant house symbolizes failure and loss, and those who lose their homes, or are in danger of losing their homes, spend a great deal of time worrying about it.
I'm not in danger of losing my home, but if there's one thing I've learned about home ownership, it's that it's a constant source of worry, even when things are going just fine.
So don't tell me not to worry about my house.
Because that's just not an option.
Reach Gazette columnist Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's.