Sticking with My “Starter House”

I remember so clearly when my Paw Paw was helping my husband and me move into our modest 3 bedroom ranch style home on the Westbank, way back in March of 2005. (Yep, THAT 2005…) “What do you think?” I asked, though it was really too late to change anything based on his opinion. “It’s a good starter house,” he said, and at the time, though I knew that most people would see it that way, I was a bit taken aback. 

After all, our septuagenarian next-door neighbors were there when the foundation was poured and raised 4 daughters in their home that was almost a mirror image of ours. In fact, ours was a little bigger, because the second owners had closed in the car port area and added square footage. That original foundation was poured, by the way, before Betsy. (Yep, THAT Betsy)

For more than a few years, we thought of our home as the classic “one step forward, two steps back” house; we would fix one thing and another would promptly break. We’d attempt to make some cosmetic change, only to reveal a larger problem that needed to be taken care of first. The idea was to fix the things, sell the house, and get a bigger one. We used to chuckle and say: “This house is going to be SO nice for the people who buy it.” 

Still, though – she has stood for Besty, and Camille, and Andrew, the May ‘95 flood, and yes – that horrible beast Katrina, she has not yet flooded and her little bones have stayed strong and firm. As much as I know I am tempting fate by stating this, how many of us can boast a track record like this after 56 years? Home, human, or community, we have all taken scars from these events. She deserves all of the praise and gratitude I am able to give. She has served not just my family, but other families well. 

So, when my daughters and I were huddled together in a hotel room in the bustling metropolis of Vidalia, Louisiana, hours before Ida hit – I told my 13-year-old: “If we don’t get any damage, we’re keeping that house forever.” As soon as I said the words, I realized that I meant them. We don’t need any more than 3 bedrooms, (though a new bathroom is long overdue) and the location is pretty good. Most importantly, though, if she made it largely unscathed through Katrina, Zeta, and Ida (among others) just during our era of ownership, how would I feel if we moved to a larger home that didn’t fare well for the next storm? 

My husband called me when he was able to get away from work long enough to survey the damage. As he drove down our street, narrating all he saw, I was nervous but prepared. So many of my loved ones had already posted catastrophic damage on social media, I braced myself. As he went room by room and found no standing or dripped water, no branches, not even our fence was blown down, I felt the gratitude for my humble home again wash over me. It only increased as the images of the destruction did. 

Maybe staying in the same modest home will help us pay it off sooner, or retire earlier, or live out our “Tiny Vacation House” dreams, and maybe it won’t. And, of course, if we win the lottery, (we don’t really play) we’ll upgrade just for logistics purposes, but barring any drastic change in fortune, we’ll live here, in the home where both of our children learned to walk, and had their first Christmases, and learned to help make gumbo. 

She is decidedly un-fancy. But she’s ours, and we’re stickin’ with her. 

Jeanne Rougelot
Jeanne is a proud Westbanker and wife, full time working parent, and middle child. She and her insanely handsome husband of 20 years have 2 daughters, aged 15 and 7. Her hobbies include cake decorating, reading, devouring movies, and slowly turning into her mother. When they are not patronizing local restaurants, she and her family enjoy driving around to take in the surroundings of their home, from Lafitte to Folsom, and all points in between. She is a passionate advocate for Ovarian Cancer Awareness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here