I’ll never forget the first time I saw our house. We were madly looking to buy after finding out our rent was increasing by a couple hundred dollars in two months time. It was the midst of the Great Recession, when the market was flooded with foreclosures, short sales, and people trying to get out of their upside down houses quickly before the market dropped even more steeply. We were sure we’d find something we liked. Really, we weren’t even that picky. We were in our early twenties, newly married, and weren’t even considering such space takers as kids and pets.
One week, then two, then a month passed and we found nothing. We looked everyday, or nearly. Every house seemed to have some deal breaker issue. Too hellishly dark. Weird room covered in old porn magazines in a walled off basement (that really happened and I was convinced something unspeakable took place there. Our realtor just stood silently next to us, like this was some of the craziest sh*t she’d seen). Funky smells coming up from the carpet. Evidence of rampant cat piss. Moldy basements. It wasn’t long until we were running out of time and options.
I first saw the house we live in on a snowy, grey winter day. I sat outside the boxy looking beige house and thought it would certainly be another flop. My husband wasn’t with me since I’d started seeing houses by myself during his work day to get more done. I sat in my car, waited for my realtor, and took note of the old roof and unimpressive front door.
The minute I walked inside though everything changed. It smelled like vanilla. The heat was on, making the little sitting room feel comfortable. There were toys stashed here and there, making it seem like a busy family had just left the room. The wood floors were dark and warm under my socks. There may have only been one bathroom and no basement but there was a perfectly square backyard and three bedrooms that could each fit a queen sized bed.
I was in love.
I got back in the car, in a completely different mental place than I’d left it, and called my husband. He agreed to see it that day and the next we offered for it. In two days the deal was sealed. Financing went through. We were home owners.
For the first five years the house was ideal. It wasn’t more than we needed, the backyard and screen porch was the perfect place to throw around a football or read a book, and we were close enough to restaraunts and shops to walk to our entertainment. It was our own little paradise where we binged on delivery pizza and stayed awake until four a.m. playing video games.
We fixed those things that had been bothering me at the beginning. We put a new roof on it, painted the front door a bright red, and moved the flower beds. It was time and sweat and laughter as we worked on projects together.
Almost four years ago the first baby came. She came home to her brand new nursery, painted a sunny yellow with superhero curtains. Her toys and accoutrements started to crawl out of her room and into the living room, the dining room, the tiny square kitchen. We started a rotation system where half of the clothes and toys went to the garage, the other half stayed in. When she or we grew bored with that set we rotated to the stored one. We got rid of side tables and extra chairs so she had room to toddle around the house.
Twenty one months later her sister joined us. We converted our third room into a second nursery, bought a steamer trunk to match our Harry Potter theme and to hold the increasing amount of glittery tutus and singing toys we’d accumulated. We put up shelves so that toys and necessaries could go up instead of out (out to the every other room in the house).
We’ve run out of space in this, our perfect first house. It has so many of our memories, so many of our firsts stored in it. There is where Lou laughed for the first time, chuckling so hard her entire body shook. There is where Maxa’s swing used to be, the only way we could get her to sleep. It was here we brought them home to, this house that saw us become a family. I’ve bandaged knees in the bathroom here, taken temperatures in the bedrooms, learned to be a mommy in every room of this house.
But it’s time to leave.
I’m going to miss it so much, but that doesn’t change the fact that our lives will make more sense in a bigger house closer to work. This house is going to be one I see in pictures and think “remember when…” and I’m okay with that.