Home is where your heart is

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Four.

That’s how many times I’ve moved in the last nine years. And in 15 days, it will be five.

This was not necessarily a plan for me to move five times in the same city. It just sort of happened. The twists and turns of my life dictated it. I rented, I owned, I returned to renting.

It sounds exhausting when you think of it – five moves in nine years – but as odd as it may sound, when I look back on those years, I don’t think about the days spent duct-taping my life in cardboard boxes; I think about the memories made in each of the homes I lived.

Each house was special. I will forever feel nostalgic about the quaint, white bungalow I lived in when I first moved to Greensboro in 2005 – mostly because it was my “first.” It only had two closets the size of a cigar box, but the amazing front porch made up for its lack of storage space. I passed many hours on that porch with my dog Yoshi at my side and a cold beer in my hand during the hot summer months and a steaming cup of coffee when the leaves began to turn then spiral to the ground like pinwheels.

Every home I move from I cry on the last day. I get attached to things – even to inanimate objects. But to me, a house is more than a house; it’s a home. It has an energy to it, a heart and a soul that comes from the people who dwell under its roof, making memories.

IMG_6021Every house I lived in represented a chapter in my life and each was significant for different reasons. My bungalow signified my bachelorette days. I traded it for a split-level with my soon-to-be husband who later became my ex-husband. And despite all the tears I shed in that home, I loved that house. I thought I’d grow old in it. I remember the last walk-through I did in the house and how I paused in every room one last time and then shut the door behind me. It marked a beginning and an ending.

I downsized after that and moved into an adorable townhome. Life had come full circle and I was back to living single. It was a difficult transition. At age 31, I was starting over, and it scared me to death. I cried a lot those first few months – out of frustration, confusion, grief. That townhouse became my place for healing. It’s where I found renewal.

And then I met Andrew; the love of my life. He eventually gave up his bachelor pad downtown and moved in with me. Quarters were tight – but square footage doesn’t seem to matter when you’re in love. We lasted five months before we mutually decided to start casually looking for a new place that we could both call home. It was important to both of us to live somewhere new, not a home that was his or mine but one we could build together.

And that’s how we got to here.

We found this house simply by chance. On a day in February, my realtor friend Jim sent me an email that set everything in motion.

“GIRL!! I found you a house.”

My jaw fell open when I pulled up to the house the next day. It looked like a giant, mint green doll house with white trim and shutters. It was like a mini-mansion.

“Wait until you see the kitchen,” Jim said with wide, silver-dollar eyes as he ushered me inside. The kitchen was bathed in sunlight that shined through a pair of skylights and a wall of windows that looked out to a wooded area in the backyard. I already started to envision what the trees would look like with the change of seasons. Honey, I’m home.

We knew the house was way too big for just the two of us, but neither of us wanted to pass up the opportunity – or the walk-in closet. It seemed meant to be. And now here we are, a year and six months later, filling out change of address forms and hoarding cardboard boxes. Our lease is up, and the owners have sold the house. We didn’t anticipate this. I suppose we got spoiled and thought we could continue to extend our lease until we were ready to leave our fantasy home and buy our own house – maybe in six months, maybe in a year.

This week, I started feeling the first pangs of sadness about leaving our house. It started when I came home from work on Wednesday and saw my husband, waving to me from the front yard as he was walking to get the mail. Then, as I pulled into our half-moon driveway, our dog, Molly, ran up to the driver-side door and chased my car all the way to the garage, anxious to greet me.

Later on, at dusk, I stepped out onto the back deck and walked down into the yard to re-pot a houseplant. When I turned around and looked behind me, I was struck by the beauty of our house at twilight. I stood there for a moment in the chorus of cicadas and gazed at our home with its warm, golden glow emanating from its kitchen windows. And I thought to myself, “I’m going to miss this house.”

IMG_2316We’ve made good memories here – Andrew and me. This house was our first home together as a couple, and our first home as husband and wife. For that reason alone, it will always be special to us.

I remember sitting on the deck the night we got married. It was well past midnight. I was barefoot and still wearing my wedding dress. Andrew shed his tie and dress shirt and was wearing only a white undershirt and pants. We sat on our wooden bench on the deck and sipped beers and held hands and shared stories in the dark. Whenever I ask Andrew what his favorite moment was about our wedding day, he always describes this one.

It’s easy to get used to a place, comfortable. By the end of the month, we’ll be in our new home unpacking boxes again, deciding where to hang artwork, place furniture. And just like the four homes before this one, I will fall in love with it, get attached to it, make beautiful memories in it and then cry when it’s time to leave.

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One of the first photos of Molly and me in the new house - March 2013.

One of the first photos of Molly and me in the new house – March 2013.

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Our deck.

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Yard work break with Molly.

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New IKEA rug for the dining room. Molly approves.

 

Our first washer and dryer. This was an exciting day.

Our first washer and dryer. This was an exciting day.

First Thanksgiving dinner.

First Thanksgiving dinner.

First Christmas.

First Christmas.

Molly's stoop.

Molly’s stoop.

The kitchen in winter.

The kitchen in winter.

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Baking in my favorite room in the house.

First family wedding photo in the backyard.

First family wedding photo in the backyard.

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