Friday, July 26, 2013

Bittersweet Goodbye

I waited until the night before the sale before I allowed myself to remember. It had only been 57 days since I wrestled that sticky front door lock, not knowing if it would be for the last time.  A lot had happened in those fifty-seven days. It felt a bit like fifty-seven years. But in that short time, I never let myself say goodbye. 

When I left our first house, a tiny two-story with a red door, set on a corner lot, I wasn’t sure if I’d be back. The empty house that once housed our life was going on the real estate market the next day.  It took some financial gymnastics to get it down to a price that it might possibly sell. Its strange floor plan, combined with weak market, had us convinced that in a few months time, we’d give up trying to sell and move to renting. I truly thought we’d have to come back in a few years and clean up a home destroyed by tenants. Fifteen days later, lightening struck and a sale was pending.

During the month between the offer and actual sale, I lived by the pessimists’ motto “Assume the worst so you can be surprised by the best”.  I still wasn’t convinced the sale would go through. I never liked the house and before a Midwestern move came into the picture and I assumed we would have it forever.  Brett had the house built shortly before we met.  It was the perfect bachelor pad.  Large master bedroom, tiny kitchen and a second floor on the garage he called his “secret lab”.  He always planned that if he ever got married he would sell and find a family friendly home to start a new phase of life.  Little did he know that while we were sipping mai tai’s on our Belizean honeymoon, Wall Street imploded from it’s own greed.  

We were lucky. Unlike the foreclosures that dotted our subdivision, we could always afford to pay our mortgage.  Our lives were not ruined. We just couldn’t afford to sell. Even though it wasn’t the plan, we started our lives together in that little corner house and we were happy.

Ok.  Some of us weren't always happy. 

As I laid in bed in Cincinnati the night before the sale, memories of that little house in the Savannah suburbs flooded my brain.  My eyes welled with tears as I thought of my first visit. I won’t forget driving there after work, thinking how far it felt from the rest of civilization. I remember the house being spotless for the first and last time and Brett telling me how he spent all day preparing for my visit. We ate dinner on a beautiful, old dining room table that barely fit in the minuscule dining room. I didn’t know that several years later we’d be dealing with idiots on Craiglist while trying to sell that table to make more room for the small person growing in my belly.

We sat for hours at that table, eating a carefully prepared meal of steak, baked potatoes with Velveeta cheese crumbles and red wine that had spent the day cooling in the refrigerator. I liked Brett, a lot, so it was a long time before I suggested red wine stay out of the fridge.  There in that dining room, I fell in love. Not a puppy love or a crush love but a “Holy Cow we are going to be holding hands in the nursing home, yelling at each other to turn up our hearing aids” love.

I thought about the unfinished projects we took on over the years in that house.  The path of stepping-stones that didn’t quite stretch from the garage to the backdoor. We misjudged the number required to complete the path and by the time we went back to Lowes, the stones were discontinued.

I reflected on the many iterations of the corner bedroom downstairs. It started as a music room, then guest bedroom and finally became a gender-neutral nursery, with light green walls and a bumble bee border.  A few days before we moved I sat in that room, Max half asleep against my chest and thought about the countless hours I spent singing lullaby’s. Tears fell as I remembered the day we brought a sleeping Maxwell home from the hospital, still dazed from his birth.

The lullaby chair and the gender neutral walls. 
I smiled as I thought of all the things that were now someone else’s problem.  The spot on the marble sink that was eaten away by a leaky bottle of nail polish remover.  The rotting stairs leading up to the garage.  The ugly laminate on the kitchen counters. The yard that was more clover than grass. The homeowners association from hell.  The crazy neighbor that thought said association was spying on her with microphones in the light posts. 

That night in Cincinnati, laying in bed remembering was my way of saying goodbye. I let the memories and sensations overcome me. I cried silent tears and quietly laughed as I thought about all that happened in our house. Then I felt peace. I said a small prayer for the new owner and relaxed in knowing that while we rented in Cincinnati, I didn’t have to do any yard work or home maintenance. When we return to Savannah, we can spend our time visiting friends not worrying about renters or real estate. We can now move on and really make our lives as residents of Ohio. Weird.

Thanks for everything tiny house.  I won’t miss you, but I will remember you with love.

Just before getting on the road to move to Ohio.

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Kimberly Ghilarducci said...

I look forward to reading this more thoroughly when I get a moment! Loved what I read so far as I skimmed through. Oooooh, and I can't wait to check out the Barenaked Ladies video... I love that song! :) Miss you, Laura!

Unknown said...

Great post. We Miss you guys.

Laura @ The Things I Said I'd Never Do said...

I miss you guys too! Thank you.

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