A Love Letter to my Home
Updated: Nov 30, 2018
I bought my first home in May when I was 25 years old. I sold my first home this July when I was 34, rounding the corner on 35. In the nearly decade between buying and selling, I found myself profoundly changed by the experience of owning and caring for an old house.
Many people in my life have expressed sadness and surprise that I decided to sell my house. Friends on the west coast - where home ownership feels like an unreachable dream - cautioned me against giving up my modest Midwestern property. Friends in my local community came by after the sale was final and walked through my hallways whimpering, expressing disbelief I would be leaving this place soon. My mother circled the large gardens we created together, marveled at how well her perennial transplants thrived in my small plot of earth, and asked if I would be saving seeds to bring to my next home.
My own emotion after selling the house has been scattered and unclear. Mostly, I simultaneously can't believe how much this place has become a core part of my identity and how relatively easy it feels to walk away from it. How could that be? It feels like a contradiction.
I first “met” my house – “ole blue” – in April 2009. My realtor and I were just starting to look at homes and she said she wanted to show me a cute home in a sweet neighborhood in order to get a sense of my style. I walked into the house and immediately felt in my bones, this is my home.
We walked through the entire house and my realtor said, “Well, Sara, what do you think?” I said, “I think this is my home.” She said, “Well…this house is sold.” I asked her how she could show me a house so sweet and perfect and totally me that was sold! (I was not happy with her.) And she said she wanted to get a sense of my wish list, that we would work our hardest to find a home just like this one. As we walked out of the house my gut said that somehow I would live here one day. Call it naïve hope, or as it turned out, intuition.
Two weeks later I learned the first offer on the 100-year-old, 1000 square-foot, corner lot, blue farm-house-in-the-city home had fallen through! My boss was out of town and I was young and in love with a house, so my realtor and I spent two days touring other houses. After each visit I thought, “The blue house! It’s definitely the blue house!” I became more sure with each walk through of a different home. I wrote an offer that week, it was accepted, and I moved in late May 2009.
My intuition and heart picked this house, and my deep desire for belonging made it home.
I have lived with four different people in this house – each bringing a different chapter in my life and energy to the home. Anders secretly recorded an entire album in his bedroom while he was a renter here, including a song about the mice in the house and me – he called it “Land Lady.” Patrick and I drank a lot of beer and played kickball in the park. Rachael and I shared our hearts with each other during her mom’s illness and eventual death from brain cancer. So many tears. Our elderly rescue dog Ramona gave us serious side-eye and very infrequent, half-hearted snuggles (she would often get up and move couches if we sat too close to her, sinking into the cushions with a grunt). Eventually we felt human again. Healing happened here.
And then Ramona, the anxious doggo prone to biting the people I loved, found a new mom, and Joel – my human companion – brought his exuberant nerd energy and love for podcasts into this old house. The first month we lived together he puttered after me from room to room, so excited to be sharing space together, and I would turn around suddenly and bump into him, unaware of his closeness.
I have redone spaces, painted walls, arranged and rearranged furniture, paid $80 to remove a lemon seed from the dishwasher, collected and hung artwork made by friends, converted grassy boulevards to pollinator gardens (to the great confusion of my neighbors), hosted potlucks, cried after breakups, felt lonely, felt part of a tight-knit community that gathered here, ran to catch the bus despite the stop being right outside my front door, sat on the front porch talking by phone to friends hundreds of miles away, and learned how to grow.
And then, one day, I realized it was time to hand over "ole blue" to the next person who would walk into the house and say out loud, “This is my home.” It wasn’t a profound realization or a dramatic one, just matter-o-fact and clear as day. Sometimes loving a home, and loving a chapter in your life, is also about knowing when it’s time to move on. This has been “my” home for the last nearly decade. I can’t wait for its new owner to make it theirs.