Home: A house is not always a home

Today marks the third monniversary in our new home, so I…

Wait. That doesn’t sound right. Let me start again.

Today marks the third monniversary in our first home.

Our first home.

For me, that’s what it is. It’s not our “new” home, it’s our first home.

When I moved to Ontario back in 2008, I had yet to have a “home.” I’d lived in many houses, but, other than my childhood home, I had never had my own home. I only lived in a plethora of housing structures during the various stages of my life.

If you have read my memoir, Living Out Loud, then you know the back-story (and my feelings) about moving in with my not-yet-husband into his matrimonial home. As I’ve said before, although I was grateful for him inviting my daughter and me into his home, that is what it was—his home. That is what it always felt like to me for the eight-plus years I lived there with him. I felt like a tenant—not a proud homeowner.

Despite the hard work and quality finishes we put into it, I never felt like I was home. Many people asked me if I was sad to leave that house, and my answer was always, “No. But… well… Kinda.”

I was not sad to leave that house, and all the negative things it represented to me, but I was sad to walk away from the beautiful finishes we carefully chose in order to transform that aged structure into a home someone would be proud to call… well… home.

A year or so into our relationship, my husband suddenly realized that he no longer viewed it as his forever-home, but we didn’t have a set timeline for our departure. We kept one eye on the real estate market, but our move always seemed to get “2-years’d” to death. One of us always said, “Two more years, and then…” whatever milestone would pass and we could move on. Over the years, it was things like: my daughter’s graduation from high school, nurturing the relationship with one of his sons who was spending more time with us, my selfish desire to see my granddaughter every single day, etc. And then it happened…

A casual conversation with an ex-colleague back in May 2016 led to me sitting here in our first home.

2017-02-12 frog

Although we have already had some wonderful experiences since making the decision to move, my message today is to the young couple who purchased my husband’s matrimonial home.

The house sold in the blink of an eye, and it was to a young couple I was hoping would win the popularity contest. With multiple offers on the table, and calls continuing to come in after the conditional sale of the house, I was rooting for these two the entire time.

“Paul and Amanda” are a young professional couple who would be merging their lives for the first time. They are for whom I always envisioned the house. I frequently told my husband, “This place is the perfect starter or finisher home. Either a young couple or a retiring couple will be the ones to buy it.” Even before I met them, I tailored my renovation suggestions, designs, and finishes with Paul and Amanda in mind.

After the close of my daughter’s house a few years ago, it was left uncleaned, and in total disarray (even mountains of dog crap were behind the shed). So, despite the renos we needed to do for her before her move, we had to clean the hell out of it. Disgusting would be an understatement for the condition of that place. So, it was important to me that when I walked out of our old house, that someone could come in and just unpack. I know it’s not the norm, but it’s who I am.

I couldn’t stand the thought of a young couple’s excitement over the next phase of their life being marred by the muck and mire behind a fridge or stove. Unfortunately, as with most meals I cook, they will discover that my black Lab seemed to help with everything I did. No matter how many times I wiped or vacuumed a drawer, cabinet, or floor, there was always that one black dog hair. Sigh…

So, as Paul and Amanda embark on their life as husband and wife, my message to them is as follows:

  • Always be grateful, and in awe, of what you have been blessed with in life—material or not.
  • Never try to keep up with The Joneses—their grass will never be greener than yours.
  • Your relationship is a full-time job, and you should always sew the most effort into it.
  • Treat each other (and any children you may have) as though someone is watching.
  • Make decisions together! You will quickly discover how much more joy it brings when things are done in mutual agreement.
  • Make sure to order Chinese food from the restaurant whose brochure I left in the drawer in the kitchen.

And finally—to Paul and Amanda—enjoy the many memories you will create in your home.

2017-02-12 home2

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