Today I close on my two houses here in Iowa.
First, at 10 am, I hand over the keys to our house in the country.
We closed on that house in November of 2000. My very first home. The home where my son had his first birthday. The home where we lived through our first kitchen remodel. The house where our friends came over and helped us build a deck for nothing more than pizza and beer and the promise of many long nights on that deck and in that yard.
My daughter was conceived in that house, and it’s crazy to me to think that she never lived there with us. All that house knew was the three of us, back when I couldn’t ever imagine it any other way.
I remember the morning of my 21st birthday, waking up to the sound of running water and finding a pipe had burst. I learned then about insurance claims and dry wall repairs.
I remember the weekend my husband and I hung the wallpaper in our bedroom – a striped pattern across the bottom and a flowered border along the mid line. It was the first of many times I would find myself up at 2 in the morning trying to finish a decorating project that was way more difficult in real life than it looked on HGTV.
Although I can’t imagine living there now, having grown accustomed to being “in town” and in a larger space, I can’t forget how proud I was when we bought it. I couldn’t believe we were lucky enough to find a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in our price range. It was only later that I would learn to worry about things like square footage and location and “updating”.
At 3:30 we close on our house here in town. The house I still live in, and will live in for a few more days.
Strangely enough, it is the house that I lived in when I graduated from high school. Ten years ago my husband – then just the most recent high school boyfriend – helped my family and I move into it. This was the first house my mom had ever owned. Three years ago I moved my own family into this house.
I was pregnant with my daughter at the time, and several months later I would bring her home from the hospital here. To her pink on pink room that I had painted the night we got the results of our ultrasound, despite the tech’s warning not to “go home and paint the nursery pink or anything”.
I took pictures of my son in front of this front door before he left for his first day of kindergarten.
We lived through even more remodeling here, including yet another kitchen project – this one even longer and more complicated than the first. We learned how to shingle and landscape and tile and refinish hardwood flooring. I helped hang the drywall on the ceilings here, even using the cordless drill myself.
I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner here. And tonight we had our last meal as a family, at that same table.
I know it’s sappy and girly and unnecessarily sentimental – but my family’s entire history is in these two houses. I have grown into a mother and a wife and a woman with these homes. And though I spent much of the time I was in them desperately trying to improve them, I feel like I owe them some kind of respect now. Because amidst the remodeling and the repairs, we lived our lives here. We fought, we cried, we laughed, we loved. We drifted through the mundane day to days and celebrated milestones and holidays.
Tonight, after dinner and a night out with friends, we will come home to this house and I will still sleep in my own bed in my room. Except – it won’t be. I will merely be a guest in my house – in someone else’s house.
Strange. Very strange. Exciting, of course, and exactly what I hoped for – more even – when we put this little plan together a short four months or so ago. But still, I am overwhelmed by this strange sense of nostalgia. A longing to hang on when I am supposed to be letting go. A strange need to stop, to pause, to put it all on hold if only for a moment. Just one moment before it’s time..
…but it’s time. Now. Today is the day we move on.