As I searched for a home after moving back to Louisiana, I wanted something small. I am single. I have few possessions. I am not a heiress.*
My realtor scarcely heard a word that I said. She wanted me to buy as much square foot as possible. My requests for something smaller were ignored. I received streams of emails detailing big, empty houses in New Orleans.
I switched to another realtor. The younger lady I assigned the task of finding a house did just what I instructed. I am now comfortably lodged in a small but perfectly adequate cottage sans garage, large porch, or soaring ceilings in a semi-rural, unincorporated part of St. Tammany Parish. I found a local handyman to put a pine fence to contain the 100-pound package of teeth and fur that followed me.
I learned something after nearly a decade of living with the poor in Honduras. More is isn’t the answer. Now, being miserably without is not a blessing, either.
Yesterday, I read a post from the director the group that has taken over the management of my former ministry in Honduras. He included pictures of houses of some students. No mansions here, to be sure.
These are the houses of parents who genuinely need an extra meal or two every day for the children so that their small wages can go a bit further towards a new roof, an outhouse, or a cement floor. That’s what the ministry is striving to continue in 2015.
I thought about the empty mansions that I see in the US. Some sit empty and for sale, but others are inhabited by people who each enjoy thousands of square foot per person. Something is just not right about that.
*For further reading about a real heiress with empty mansions, I suggest the biography, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of An American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.