Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The little house that love built

Today was the day. It was inevitable as we’ve been battling the real estate market for what feels like forever. Our decision to purchase another home prior to selling our townhouse was the best decision we ever could have made but gee, it was a gamble. For all we knew we could have ended up sitting with double mortgages for months before our townhouse sold but in the end our lovely home was picked up after only 5 days on the market (this time around). Third time’s a charm, right? We had put our house on the market back in 2006 for a hot second (literally only about 4-6 weeks) just “to see” if it would be scooped up. Obviously it wasn’t and we decided not to deal with the “keeping-the-whole-house-clean” thing unless we absolutely had to. Then there was last year. I wouldn’t wish what we did upon my worst enemy and I can’t believe Dash spent his first few months on planet Earth dealing with the stress of having the house on the market. What were we thinking?! In the end, our dream house became available and our house was picked up by a lovely woman that, if given the opportunity, I’d love to be her friend.

So there Thad and I were this weekend doing our final sweep through the old house and I found myself in tears standing in the foyer, thinking about the last almost 7 years of my life. In spring of 2004 my lease was ending at what has famously been referred to as “Cedar House” and I needed to make some decisions about what I was going to do. Was I going to stay with IBM? Travel? Go back to school? It is the dreaded question for any 20-something: “what are you going to do with your life?” My mom and I figured that if I was ever to go back for a Master’s degree my job would hopefully pay for it. Real estate at the time was the best place to invest some money, so that was where we went. We found this house with my agent not long after it had been on the market and we scooped it up very quickly. It wasn’t going to be available until August so we did a rent back after closing in June and I lived with my mom for the overlapping months.

Thad and I met the night before I moved into this house so as far as I’m concerned, he’s always been a part of it. My friend, Shannon, helped me move in and my friend, Melisa, helped me put my IKEA tables together. I mean, really, did someone really say it was okay for this 22-year old to own a house? Apparently so and I loved it. A 4-bedroom house was a big bit for me on my own so the first year in the house was spent with some lovely roommates. There was Scott and Levi, both of whom I found on roommates.com. My mom wasn’t big on me living with perfect strangers who are men that I found on a website but after background checks and some leases drawn up, my mom figured I had to figure things out on my own. Scott was awesome. He lived with me for a year and he was the best roommate. He was quiet, he kept to himself, and he has the best sense of humor. He moved out in September 2005 right before Thad moved in. Levi was not awesome. He was evicted after approximately 5 months of living together. He was stressful, inconsiderate, and he bit one of my friends. Yup, you read that correctly: he bit her. After Levi moved out in spring of 2005 my good friend from college, Lauren, moved in and was with us in the house until Thad and I got engaged in the fall of 2006. Even though she’s moved into her own apartment in Arlington now, we still say that she can live with us anytime she wants.

Most of all, the house was the stage for the evolution of my relationship with Thad and truly the first home we ever had. On our third date Thad and I laid on the carpet in my very empty house and listened to music for hours. After Thad moved in October 2005, a month later we got 2 kittens and a puppy. Oh boy did we get ourselves into a big mess. Neither of us had any idea how to care for a puppy and the kittens were 2 furry mysteries to me as I had never had cats before either. Poor Lauren had to deal with crying kittens at her door the first week they were here and a barking dog that didn’t know where to poop…oh, the mess.

In the fall of 2006 we got engaged and three weeks later got married with a justice of the peace in the City of Fairfax. Our post-marriage celebration was spent standing around our kitchen island with my brother, Thad’s sister, and her then-boyfriend-now-husband over beers and crackers. In the fall of 2007 we got pregnant with our first little bundle and over the next couple years settled in even more to our home together. In the spring of 2008 his mom moved in with us for what we thought was a temporary arrangement but has evolved into a long-term plan. We are so grateful to have a multi-generational home in a place where it isn’t common anymore. We were especially grateful to have help within walking distance from both of our moms after our second little bundle arrived in the spring of 2010 in our master bedroom.

As I walked around the empty townhouse on Sunday afternoon I could see the faint pictures of events past: House parties with friends and that time that a friend spilled a cranberry-vodka on my white carpet. Drunk stair sliding on slippery pants. The time when I hosted a big Filipino food party and I had friends all over the house chowing down on pancit, watching a Filipino movie, and drinking beers in the backyard. Making Halloween costumes with my girlfriends for a weekend of back-to-back costume parties. Unwrapping wedding gifts with Thad and being surrounded by white boxes, greeting cards, and oodles of love from our family and friends. Painting what would be Julian’s room a Winnie-the-Pooh yellow and wondering how our lives would change with his arrival. Taking a pregnancy test and walking through the house to show Thad the proof that our little family was indeed growing. Laboring in my living room surrounded by my amazing birth team and cursing at whoever put so many stairs in my house. Welcoming our son at the foot of our bed with our other son asleep down the hall. Watching my boys cuddle on the couch on Christmas morning….

In the book that I am reading right now the main character talks a lot about houses and homes. He comes from a nomadic people and he says a couple of times that a house is like a shoe. If it’s too big, it will slide and chafe. If it’s too small, it’ll squeeze and blister. While I hate to think that we left the townhouse because we had outgrown it, it’s the truth of the matter. It is, though, forever be a perfect home to me. And so it is. The little house that love built will live in my heart forever and I am glad that another family can enjoy the space as much as we did. They may not know where all the dings on the walls came from, or about the flood we had in the basement, or how Julian learned to walk on those floors, but that’s okay. I am grateful to the house for being our home.

No comments: