The house that built me
This morning, we woke up in a mostly bare tiny condo on East North Street. Tonight, we'll go to bed in a mostly bare but lovely four-bedroom home in Greer.
I am excited beyond belief to have all this glorious space, natural light, a giant backyard and walk-in closet, and a kitchen that fits more than one person at a time. But I'm still a little sad to say goodbye to my "dollhouse."
My offer on the dollhouse was accepted three days before my 24th birthday, in 2008. Now that seems impossibly young, but at the time I felt like such an adult. I was trying to do the responsible thing, the smart thing, accruing equity each month instead of paying that amount in rent. Actually, interestingly, my mortgage + HOA dues combined were less than what I was previously paying in rent for a one-bedroom apartment, so that was a big help. For about a year, all went well. I painted, I decorated, and I made the condo mine.
Then in March of 2009 I was laid off from a newspaper job I didn't particularly like in the first place. I was in a really hard place, struggling to pay a mortgage and stay afloat. With some help from my exceedingly gracious parents, I managed to struggle through six months of unemployment until I found a new job. The condo became my safe haven because I didn't have anywhere else to go. I couldn't afford to go anywhere. All entertainment happened at the condo, usually by way of library books (Side note: libraries are a lifesaver when you have no job. They're the only place you can walk out with an armload of stuff for free).
That went well for about a year, too, until by 2010 I realized the company with which I'd accepted a job was, frankly, batshit insane. I was being paid pennies to deal with manipulative coworkers who put Frank Underwood to shame (if you don't watch House of Cards, you won't get that). I would come home and snuggle into the sofa with a glass of wine and Gilmore Girls to distract myself from the whispering, the gossip, the fear-mongering and general maliciousness that filled my days. The condo was again my safe haven, because I didn't have the energy to go anywhere else.
That continued to not go well for a year, but then in 2011 my one kind colleague dragged me against my will to a wine festival. I think most of you know the rest of that story. From 8-5 each day I was still soul-deadeningly miserable, but there was also a little hope and a lot of happiness. B became a permanent fixture in my life, and for the first time, surprisingly, I felt myself outgrowing the condo, just a smidgen.
In 2012 the old bat moved in next door and commenced her litany of passive-aggressive notes in my mailbox, taped to my front door, and stuck under the windshield of my car. Mine and B's relationship progressed, and I became increasingly ready to move out, to move on to the next stage.
In April 2014, as again most of you know, B and I were married. I thought that would be the point at which we would finally move out of the condo, which was, frankly, too tight a squeeze for two adults. But we still needed to save up for a down payment. We planned to save up and buy something new in 2015.
Again, as I think most of you know, we did not buy a house in 2015. We were too busy cavorting around another continent for a large part of 2015. One of the (MANY) biggest heartaches of leaving France was abandoning our light-filled fourth-floor apartment to return to what I now dubbed "The Bat Cave."
I can't pinpoint the exact time it happened, but "The Dollhouse," of which I was so proud, had become "The Bat Cave." I had done my hibernating, my growing, my cocooning. I was ready for light and space.
And as of this evening, we're going to have a plethora of light and space. And while I am so grateful for this beautiful house, this new chapter in our lives, I'm still a little sad to say goodbye to the condo.
When I first moved in to the condo, I never thought I would leave. I thought I'd never find a husband. I thought I'd become one of those old ladies that lived in the condos until they died and no one noticed until two days later when they started to smell (true story - that happened to an old lady in our complex a couple of months ago!). My life took off in a beautiful direction that I couldn't have planned if I'd tried.
And the condo sheltered me when I didn't have much else. I tied me to Greenville when a loss of a job might have meant the necessity of moving back home. It's seen me laugh. It's seen me become a puppy-mama. It's seen me pull my first new car into the parking spot out front. It's seen me taste-test cakes and address wedding invitations. It's seen me jump up and down and scream like a crazy person when FedEx delivered our passports, complete with French visas. And it's seen me cry. Oh, how it's seen me cry.
I know our new house will do the same (I'm a crier, after all). It will see different struggles, different problems. It will see us hopefully grow as a family. I know eventually it may become too small, too confining, as well. We will be different people (possibly more people), and we'll want to find somewhere else, maybe bigger, to suit our needs then.
But for now, even though I'm a little sad, I'm excited to step into the light, and to say goodbye to the house that built me.
Congrats on the new house! I was a little sad when we moved out of our cozy little house (with Valley Forge Park literally in our backyard)... but the joys of having room to move in the kitchen, a basement to store our stuff, and multiple bathrooms really helped the transition. Good luck with the next step :)
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