Turning Home Back Into House

One of the many things that I feel made moving different for me as a child was the kind of loss that I felt as we pulled away from each of our homes. For me, home was where my friends were. Home was where I felt comfortable. Home was where my stuff was. While I left a little of myself in each of our homes (when we visited years later the Strawberry Shortcake curtains were still hanging up in my old bedroom in Detroit) I didn’t have much invested personally, emotionally, or financially in our houses. Home was the place where I slept, hung out with friends, and spent time with my family. I didn’t have to sign my life away every time my parents bought a new house. I didn’t have to pay for the paint that went on my bedroom walls. The only investment I made in each of the houses my parents owned while I was growing up was the various items I put on the walls during the course of 18 years.

But things change as we get older. One day we move out of our parents’ houses and then, after some years of apartment living, some of us decide that enough is enough and we want to buy our own house and make it home. I remember our first purchased home. We lived there for two years before we moved to a new city. We barely scraped by with a couple hundred dollars from the sale of the house. When we bought the house I worked hard to make it ours. I painted all of the bedrooms and put stuff on the walls. We loved that house, but we were rarely home. The thing that would have made it home was lacking and that thing was us. Leaving, for me at least, wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Maybe it was because I was looking forward to the future in our new city. And maybe it was that we were never there long enough for it to be our real home.

We lived in our second purchased home for five years. While my husband was never a huge fan of the house, it was still our home and we had worked hard to make it ours. New flooring, paint, and a whole new kitchen. It was also the house in which we had become parents and it was our daughters first home. But then we had to move. I wrote about the difficulty of leaving that house. While we still own the house (it is currently in the possession of renters), it is no longer home and never will be. At this point it has become an investment, and not a very good one at that.

That brings us to our latest home, the home that we left a week and a half ago. Those who have read my writing for awhile are familiar with the many changes that took place in that house over the course of five years. We worked hard to make it home, and then we decided to move. We had to do a lot of projects to get the house ready for the market, but those projects ceased being for us. My dad helped us finish the back hallway, but we weren’t going to spend much time enjoying white walls as opposed to green drywall. We redid the kitchen (yes, we did it ourselves, again) but it wasn’t for us, it was for a new family to fall in love with and enjoy (we did find out from the buyers that the kitchen helped sell the house, which might have made all that work worth it). We boxed up toys, made several trips to donate items, for the first time ever paid to have the house professionally cleaned, and worked with the kids to keep the house as clean as we could. Those who have moved know that once you make the decision to move, your house slowly stops become home. At some point, it is just a house.

It is one of the many things that makes moving difficult as you become an adult and take on adult responsibilities. We had a lot emotionally and financially invested in our last house and reading some of the comments by people who were looking at our house for the two weeks it was on the market was not always easy, especially those who said “parts of the house were great, but there is still too much to do.” So we prayed for a family with vision. A family that could look at our house and see the potential that was still there in the projects that we had left to do. And we found that family. Or that family found us. We even found out that the husband had discovered my blog, had read everything I had written about the house, and had still wanted to buy it. It was a long journey to closing, including a significant amount of drama related to a poorly conducted well test at the hands of the buyers home inspector, but we finally arrived at the title office ready to be temporarily homeless. With our inability to get a moving truck until the LAST day the buyers had listed as a closing date and their need to close before then to keep their loan lock, the buyers kindly let us stay in the house without extra cost until we were able to move out. But that also meant that for the last five days that we were living in our house it wasn’t ours. Not only had the house ceased to become our home, the walls stripped and nearly everything we owned in boxes, it was no longer our house. The new owners came over for two hours the night after we closed so we could show them all the quirks and technical information that they needed for the house. We sold them our mower, washer, and dryer. My husband gave the husband and his father a full tour of the grounds. Our children, especially our son, became good friends with their little girl. We had found the perfect family for our house. It is a husband and wife and their two small children who are going to be sharing the home with the husband’s parents. The parents have dreams of bringing the back corner greenhouse, garden, and pond back to life, something that we had never been able to do. And the whole family has plans to take what we worked on for five years and build on it. It made us feel good about handing over the keys and I wish them the best of luck as they still have a lot of work to do.

And now we wait for our next home. This time, we would really like it to be our last home. We want it to be the place where we kids will play, grow, and build memories to last a lifetime. I’m tired of turning houses into homes and then back into houses. And hopefully, that will happen sooner than later.

Our last house empty and ready for the new owners

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