I clearly remember the day my Realtor opened up the front door of what is now my home.
It was during the real estate bubble and every listing proved how much of a sellers' market it really was. The houses we’d been looking at were overpriced and not especially well taken care of. It didn’t seem to matter. If you didn’t buy it, it was gone. You didn’t have time to be choosy about location, condition or square footage. For first-time home buyers, getting into the market was more important than the investment you were ultimately making. We’d looked at some real dumps. I’m not kidding, there was a place in Mendon that was a unfinished frame with a host of wild animals living inside. House hunting wasn’t fun, it was depressing.
I wasn’t looking for stainless steel appliances or a master bathroom. I just wanted something clean, something with character, someplace I could picture raising my daughter.
I finally found that place. I knew as soon as I stepped into the front room. The woman who was living there alone had taken obvious care. There was a big back lawn for a swingset. There was a cute little kitchen and upstairs were two twin built-in beds. I was smitten. They say that’s how it is the first time.
The “For Sale” sign wasn’t up in the yard yet and although my husband was at work, my Realtor urged me to make an offer before the open house that coming weekend. I knew she was right. I’d been looking at similarly priced listings in the neighborhood and I knew for sure that if this house went to a showing there would be a bidding war that we would most certainly lose.
We called my husband at work. (Have I mentioned he is a great man?) And we made a full-price offer, for him, sight unseen. That’s how crazy the market was.
And we have squeezed some serious love out of this house.
We’ve learned to prune and care for the perennial gardens. We’ve carved pumpkins on the front lawn. We’ve watched thunderstorms from the front porch and had birthday parties and cookouts in the back. We’ve celebrated every Christmas under its roof. We brought home our second daughter from Milford Regional Medical Center, and she has grown up in one of those built-in beds. We’ve marked off every birthday height on the staircase door and we added both a great dane and a kennel for her so we can keep her business separate from ours. In 2006, we put a family room addition on the back and, always looking to pinch a penny, we finished the interior ourselves. Every ounce of plaster mixed and applied by yours truly. A brick wall painstaking laid by my husband and I, which hides a painted masterpiece by two young unknown artists on the blue board wall underneath. Every wall in the house has been repainted just the color I wanted, which meant sometimes more than once. There have been dinner parties and sleepovers, nightmares soothed and wishes whispered.
Moving on, finding the next right home is exciting. And it also fill me with melancholy. We’d like a pool, a good neighborhood, maybe a nice big basement. But as we look, all I can think about is our home and all the things we created there. How do I let go? How do I pack up and empty out all the moments I still love about our first home? And how do I put a price, how do I negotiate, something I love so dearly?
I keep convincing myself that we can keep changing the home we have to fit us as we grow, but she’s meant to be this cute little cottage. It’s shorter ceiling heights were one of the things I never considered without my 6’4” husband being there to point them out. But for a new family, she needs no tweaking.
They say buying the second house is different. It's the same as the second guy you date. You have a better sense of who you are and what you need. (Add having the laundry room on the first floor a bonus.) I’m sad about leaving those memories behind, but I like the idea of some other family falling in love and starting their family here.
After we purchased our house, the lady who had lived here and since moved to California wrote us a note. The day my husband and I brought our daughter here to look at it together, she watched us from our/her neighbor's house across the street. She had raised her family here. She told us that she could tell by the smile on my face and seeing our daughter jump up and down, that we were the family she wanted living in her home.
Now our home. Soon, someone else's.