I just signed the paperwork to sell my first house. I’ve bought a house or two (ok, fine, only two) but this is the first one I have sold.
I bought this house in 1995, which means I owned it for close to twenty years. My eventual-ex-husband and I moved in right after our baby turned two. Our first party was our first-born daughter’s 4th birthday party. She’ll be 24 this summer. How time did fly!
The house has been through a few exterior paint jobs and myriad color changes of the inside walls. It went from 3 to 4 bedrooms. It housed my daycare business, where I had the honor of helping to raise other people’s children while still raising my own. Oh, we had some fun there. Birthday parties with ponies, art extravaganzas, and Pokemon marathons!
Over the years, the house heard the pitter-patter of countless little feet. It heard a few dishes smashed, some by accident, and as my husband and I began to fight in earnest, a few on purpose. I studied at the kitchen table through three college degrees, and that table saw my kids from kindergarten to high school. The house guarded my daughters’ secrets and shored me up for single parenting. It holds the memory of my marriage, my divorce, and a few subsequent lovers. After my divorce it watched me fall in love anew, stricken like a teenager myself, and held me in its wooden arms as I cried for the loss of that love five years later.
It noted my dalliance with the way too young, way too sexy, and certifiably bonkers handyman who did some (ahem) work for me. The breakfast bar often functioned as a wine bar for me and girlfriends, lamenting the course of life’s roads, or excited about new roads on the horizon. Friends helped me paint, fix, and patch, as I readied it for sale, then rent, then sale again. After the last tenants, I spent my entire one-week “vacation” fixing, cleaning, and improving the things they had neglected. I live several states from the house; it’s impossible to keep a good eye on a rental property so far away. After the summer, I knew I should let it go before I got renters from Hell, before the house fell into disrepair in my absence. As I walked through, it felt clean and open, ready for its own new start. So I put it on the market and waited a bit.
Finally, I don’t regret my decision, but I didn’t expect the sadness that came with signing it away. I know I don’t want to live there again. The last few times I’ve visited, the memories were faint, faded like old photographs to a warm sepia tone. But now they are housed only in my head and in a few pictures. I won’t stand on the deck and look at the lake again. I won’t feel the solace of an old friend that has literally housed me and my kids for decades.
But in selling my old friend, I will benefit from the financial security we have built up together. I can wish the best for the new family that seeks shelter in my old house’s steady arms. I know I can treasure those memories I earned there and I will seek to make new memories now.