When you’ve been talking about something for many moons, planning it, anticipating it, preparing for it and generally almost-doing it, why is it that when a concrete symbol comes along, you invariably stop dead in your tracks and say to yourself something like “Damn! This is for-real HAPPENING?!”
Which is how I felt when I walked out the door last week and saw this in my own for-real front yard:
We moved into this house in the summer of 2003, when Megan wasn’t yet a year and Kira was way off on the horizon. Fast-forward through kitchen and bath remodels and vats of paint and thousands of dollars of landscaping and a decade of years, and moving wasn’t in our minds.
In fact, we had met with a contractor and were slated to embark on a major renovation over the summer to properly situate ourselves to hunker down for teenage years to come – but one evening this past May the MPM and I looked at each other and had the dawning thought that perhaps another house might really suit us better. One that didn’t require a major renovation to accommodate us.
Because in truth, this house has a small handful of permanent problems we couldn’t solve with a renovation of any scope. And because while moving is hell, it is only hell for a short, and discrete, time. Renovation is hell for several months. And then a few more weeks. And probably a few more. And then there is punch-list purgatory to wander around in for a while.
The trick was going to be finding the right house. Because we knew we wanted to stay in this ‘hood. Because this is where I have my village, and when you are raising kids, you need you a tribe.
And it had to REALLY suit us. No sorta-suiting, leading to major remodeling projects down the road (see: hell/purgatory, above). And it needed to be aging-in-place friendly, because the MPM has made it known that he has exactly one (1) move left in him.
I looked at everything on the market, which wasn’t much, and then after a week or so I sat down one morning with the neighborhood map and traced my finger along the grid of about 7 streets by 5 streets, visiting them in my mind as I traced. Was it even possible to find a house we might want and could reasonably afford?
Because we had a lot of must-haves: Flat lot, not much maintenance required. Brick. Front porch. Playmates within walking distance. Flow for entertaining. 4 bedrooms plus an office. A kitchen I could remodel to suit myself. A teen hangout space. Space to grow food, and sun for same. Garage, highly desirable. Screen porch, ditto.
It was a little daunting. But as I traced, my fingers came to rest on a crossways street, and I mentally inventoried and thought, Y’know, maybe. And I picked up the phone and dialed a business acquaintance of many years and asked if he happened to know if anyone on his street was perhaps thinking to move. And he paused for the briefest of moments and then said, Why yes, in fact I do.
And went on to say that he and his longtime girlfriend had gone out to look for houses together for the first time… the night before. And then he gave me the particulars on his house, while I strove to remind myself that fate is not part of my world view and this perfect-on-paper house would likely smack me with disappointment face-to-face. And then we agreed the MPM and I would pop over the following weekend. Just to take a look.
And so it came to pass that we recently signed a contract on that very house. 5 bedrooms with a flat yard, front porch, garden space, kitchen for remodel. Office, screen porch, deck, garage? Check, check, checkitty check. Friends nearby AND the most awesome teen hangout basement ever. Really.
So. All to the good, and being swept away on a tide of
fate serendipity is pretty fun, though not without its verklempt moments.
Putting my garden to bed this autumn weekend, and recalling the vast span of hours I’ve spent inside those fenceposts. The angle of the light coming in through the sunroom windows in the morning. Imagining leaving this carefully designed kitchen that suits me so utterly and efficiently… for one that I’ll need to live in for a good while as-is. Realizing that the window over the sink in my future doesn’t look out into the back yard, nor does it frame a view like this:
And in the packing-up, perhaps packing up some pieces of childhood too. Toys that we might have kept around for another year or two will likely find their way downline a little sooner. And that playset there… weighing its useful life against the hassle of moving it.
And the enormity of knowing that the next house will be our last. Sensing that its nest-emptying will come all too soon – just about precisely as long as we’ve lived here, which some days seems like it’s only been since maybe a little after breakfast yesterday.
But overall, a quiet calm of knowing it is the right move for us. Providential? Depends on your world view, I suppose. But I’ll gracefully, gratefully accept that sort of serendipity any day.