We’ve been working on our house steadily over the last 2.5 years (ever since we purchased it), but now Sam and I are working overtime to finish things up before we put it up for sale. Some changes are small and other changes are drastic, but each one is noticeable to us because we live in this space and have made it our own. Every day our house takes on a slightly new persona, donning a fresh coat of paint or a new space where a pile of rotting wood used to sit, moving closer and closer to its final form as our property.
The hardest thing about moving, for me at least, is selling our home. We debated for a long time as to whether we would sell or rent, but in the end, we decided that freeing ourselves completely of debt and severing ties with its ownership would be the best thing for us to do as we embrace our life in a new city. It’s been so good to us for the time we’ve lived there that it seems unfair to leave its fate up to renters who might not love it like their own.
I didn’t love our house when we first looked at it. It would’ve been hard to love in its condition: filthy carpet, layers of vinyl linoleum, rusted-out bathroom appliances, questionable plumbing, wiring, and insulation. There were other houses we toured that I felt stronger about, but it wasn’t meant to be on those properties. It took a second viewing at our current house for Sam and our realtor to convince me of the possibilities, and after a little back-and-forth we signed the papers and made it ours. We dished out the cash and time to give it a full-out makeover (new kitchen and bathroom, built a bedroom on the main floor, updated outdated potential-fire-hazards, replaced the tile, refinished the original wood floors, coated the whole thing with fresh paint) and transformed it into the home we wanted. It isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for us.
This home has been a part of our lives since marriage (technically a week prior to getting married) and during its short time with us it has already seen so much. It understands us and we understand it. It’s there every morning when I kiss Sam before work and when we both get back from work at night; it feels the suffocating tension between us after an argument or disagreement; it comforted us when I got food poisoning or when Sam was struck with influenza for over a week; it knows the feeling of our bare feet on its floors in the middle of night during bouts of insomnia. We know all its sounds and how to avoid the squeaky parts of the steps; we push the mudroom window shut when the north wind pops it open; we nursed its frozen pipes back to working condition last March; we’ve patched little holes and caulked its leaky edges.
I never knew homeownership was a symbiotic relationship.I assumed it’d be similar to renting a space or living in my bedroom as a child: I’d always occupied a space and the space would oblige. Now, as we prepare to put it on the market and hand the keys over to someone else, I’m struck by waves of sadness to know that soon it will no longer be ours. This house means something to us, and it’s hard to think of all the things it will mean to the next owners. Will our TV room be a baby’s nursery? Will they keep the butcher block counters? What will happen to the crabapple tree from our wedding day that we planted in the backyard? it pains me to think of the changes someone else might make to the spaces and aspects of this property that we love.
I am not the same person I was when we bought this house, and I’m grateful for the chance I had to grow and change with our home. We breathed new life into its rooms and gave it a second chance, and in a similar way, it taught us what kind of people we are even when we’d lost sight of ourselves. We’re doers when things need to be done. We’re responsible, compassionate people who care about things and want to save them from ruin and destruction. We’re gardeners and chicken parents and hosts of bonfires or outdoor movies nights. We’re kind neighbors and friends to the chipmunks that dig holes all over the yard (if only because we haven’t killed them yet). These are things I’m not sure I would know about myself if I didn’t own this wonderful place and share it with someone I love.
As I go to bed sore from painting or anxious about the long list of things we want to complete before we sell it, I take a few minutes to think about our house and how it’s helped us grow so much as individuals and as a couple. I know the shadows and sounds of this house at night, changing all the time in the weather or moonlight. I am one more shape shifting in the dark, waking each day a little bit closer to the person I am meant to be in the end.