Who are those young, well-rested looking people in that photo up there? Oh, yea. That’s me and Chester, on the day that we got the keys to our first home.
On that September afternoon in 2009, we raced from the broker’s office, unlocked the door to our house, and sat in the middle of our empty living room, laying out all of our grand plans for the house (that mirror taking up the entire living room wall and the ugly industrial carpeting would be the first things to go). We mentally picked out furniture and paint colors. We made a long list of possible home improvement projects. We talked excitedly about having more space to entertain family and friends at the holidays.
For the next three years, we actually did some of those things. And, then, life happened.
The improvement projects that seemed feasible when it was just the two of us brought on migraines we thought about managing them with an infant and a dog. We realized that having one bathroom is fine and dandy, until you have to haul a potty training toddler upstairs multiple times a day, while seven months pregnant, (and later, you have to haul said toddler and one cranky newborn). And, it’s really difficult to have anyone come over to the house when it looks like Toys R’ Us after the Black Friday rush.
All that to say, our life today looks nothing like it did in 2009, and we had come to the realization that our current house couldn’t be our forever home. We had more than outgrown the space and there was the issue of school for the girls to consider. We sketched out a timeline for making a move, closer to the time that B would be ready for real school. But, in the late summer/early fall, we watched a few houses on our block sell in a matter of weeks and worried about missing out on a hot market. So, we got our house ready (putting things in storage and making minor improvements), just to see what would happen. If we didn’t move, we reasoned, at least we would be ready to try again in the spring.
Within three weeks of the “for sale” sign going up, our house was under contract and we had found a new home.
And, it was really that simple.
And, not stressful.
Like, at all.
Real talk: It’s been nuts.
Relocating two kids and a dog for house showings is no picnic.
Compiling the reams of paper needed for a mortgage application is a full-time job.
Trying not to fall in love with the house that is just perfect for your little family, when you don’t know if your current house will sell in time for you to actually purchase it, is tough.
Coordinating the final details of inspections, repairs and settlements on two houses—and waiting for all of the pieces to actually fall into place—is maddening.
And, the packing–oh the hell of packing. Last time we did this, it was just the two of us coming from a one bedroom apartment. It’s amazing (and mystifying) how you can accumulate so much stuff as the years go by (Just a warning to anyone in need of bubble wrap in and around South Philly: there is none left. I bought it all).
We are grateful to family members who pitched in to watch kids and dogs, deliver more boxes and haul trash away. Because, here we are, two months later and we’ve signed all the documents we possibly can sign and packed up the contents of our life so far. Tomorrow, the boxes will be loaded into a truck, we will lock the front door for the last time, and drive off to start a new chapter.
(In the suburbs. Gasp!).
I recently found that list of improvement projects written our first day, on top of the refrigerator. I laughed when I saw how many of the items hadn’t been crossed off. At the time we wrote it, it seemed like those would be the most important things to do, in order to turn the house into our home.
We had no clue what was in store for us.
People keep asking me if I will miss this house. I won’t really–pretty much for all the reasons named above and probably a handful more that I’m not thinking of right now. Plus, I’ve filed away countless memories that I’ll be taking with me, and will always look back on fondly, when I think of this place, where we navigated the early years of marriage and parenthood. Things like:
Sitting on the living room floor with (Big) Bridget and Chester, stuffing and sealing our wedding invitations.
Returning from our honeymoon, excited to sort through our gifts and settle into married life.
Later, returning after all the other trips that we took, simply glad to be in our own home, with all the central air we could handle (we stayed in some questionable hotels).
Cramming 12 people around the table for Christmas dinner, and made a rack of lamb—and all the side dishes—in a kitchen with no counter space.
Fighting over stupid things, stopped speaking for days and eventually forgot why we were angry with each other.
Laying on the couch on Sunday mornings, while pregnant with B, waiting for her to kick me so that I knew she was still okay in there (I don’t know why, but I was always worried about her the most on that day of the week).
Laying B in a bassinet next to our bed on her first night home, and then proceeded to try to sleep with all the lights on, just so I could see if she was still breathing.
Watching in disbelief the next day, as Tracy’s anxiety over the new baby got the better of her, and she jumped through the plexi-glass window in the kitchen door, and straight into the backyard.
Capturing how much B grew each month for the first two year of her life, with a photo shoot in the nursery that we put together just for her.
Sitting in the bathroom on Father’s Day 2015, pregnancy test in hand and freaked out.
Laying Alice in the Rock-In-Play next our bed on her first night home and changing diaper after diaper because she just would not. stop. pooping.
Feeling my happiest at the end of the day, snuggled next to B in her big girl bed, singing “You Are My Sunshine” while hummed along and Alice peered at us over the side of her crib.
I could go on.
But the point is this: in the end it didn’t matter how we decorated it or if we turned the flat roof off of our bedroom into a deck (seriously? When did we think we were going to get around to doing that?). Slowly, we started filling it with memories and people and realized that projects, things and the four walls themselves don’t matter much at all, really.
The first time I scrolled through the photos of our new house online–before we even looked at it in person–I knew that it was the perfect place for us. I’m excited to write the next chapter of our lives there.
And, it’s a good thing I feel that way, because, so help me God, we are NEVER moving again.