The deal is officially done! We closed on our house! Ah, sweet, sweet relief.
For those of you who don’t know the full story, it started because we had one too many spatulas and in the end we were calling ourselves minimalists. After “clean sweeping” our house to get rid of all of the non-essential stuff and clutter, we realized that our sweet, little starter home was just a bit too big for us.
And in a world where 2, 000+ square foot McMansions have become the norm, this was a little bit crazy. So we waited and we thought about it and we considered our options. Our house was really nice. We loved it. The yard. The space. The evidence of love and care that we put into it during our two years of home improvement projects. At the end of the day, it was our house.
We spent a few months of thinking about it and thinking about it and changing our minds a million times. We had been focusing on paying down debt and paying off one of our car loans. Once we achieved that feat with a car, we realized that a mortgage is a whole, whole lot of debt. Especially when you have a little FHA loan on which you make a tiny, tiny payment. Our mortgage payment should have been called the Interest, PMI, Insurance, Taxes Payment. We were paying pennies on our actual mortgage, and hundreds on all the other stuff.
And that was the turning point for us. Everything else that comes along with being home-less is just an added bonus: No more weekends painting. No mowing a yard. No paying to replace a roof when it leaks. No more spending a few hundred dollars here and there to have things checked and maintained and repaired. Those were all the good things that we thought about as we waited and waited for someone to buy our beautiful house.
I started getting anxious. Downright scared, actually, at about the 3 month mark. It felt hopeless. It wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t meant to be. We truly are just too crazy to think we’d be able to sell a home at the snap of our fingers. By my birthday in mid-July we had accepted the fact that our house probably wasn’t going to sell. That we would be there forever. That we would continue watching our dollars bills drain out of our bank account. That we would live in this city forever. That nothing would change for us. That nothing good would happen.
And then something magical happened. Our realtor happened to get a spot on the front page of the Sunday real estate section of the paper for Central Arkansas. This happens about once every year or two for her. So she chose our house. (Our house! Front page!) That day, there was an open house with so many people coming through she lost count. Two quick weeks and a handful of showings later, we were under contract.
Just like that. Just like magic.
And, as they say, everything else is history. In reality, for us, everything that happened after we went under contract was equally magical. I started my new gig of adjunct teaching at a local community college. I found out the cause of my atrocious, recurring back pain and was somehow magically able to get a surgery scheduled to fix it. Even though the surgeon was supposed to be on vacation, he agreed to come in that morning just for me which was nothing short of a blessing because we were about to switch over to new insurance, which would mean more months of pain and waiting while everything with our new plan became effective. Oh, and why were we switching insurance? Because my amazing, intelligent, driven, and wonderful husband got himself a new job at a different school.
So yes, we were a little sad about leaving our house and saying goodbye, but we were mostly just happy. And grateful. And feeling lucky and blessed and all of those things that you feel when the dice finally roll your lucky number. It doesn’t happen often. You have to embrace it.
Saying goodbye and leaving our beautiful home has been emotional, but at the same time this is just the beginning for us. It is the start of a brand new life for the two of us–a brand new adventure–and I couldn’t be more excited to see what life has in store.
It isn’t really as much about the money for us anymore. What we’re most excited about is all the time and energy we’ll be saving. Less space to upkeep, chores don’t take as long, no weekends spent doing yard work or home improvement projects. We have big plans to spend this extra time and money on life. Not the life that we’re expected to live–the one with the big house, picket fence, and 2.5 kids. We’re going to spend it on living the life that we want to live. (I’ve never been one for following the beaten path.)
I’m glad we did all the DIY work we did on the house. We learned a lot about ourselves, our capabilities, our skills, our limits, and most importantly, our relationship. We truly learned how to compromise–sure, it was mostly about paint colors, but the practice was good. And I feel like because of everything we did together, we have a greater admiration for each other and trust in the strength of our relationship.
We turned a neglected, bachelor pad with a jungle of a yard into a sweet, charming home filled with character and love–reminiscent of what it probably was when it was built in 1968. A family home. For the first month of home-ownership, we were at our house every waking moment that we weren’t at our jobs or asleep. We painted until it was dark. We made up songs about our house and gave names to all of our tools. And you can tell when you look at the house that someone really cared and really worked to show it. We did.
Living there was awesome, too. It was a little over two years, but it felt like forever. I have tons of fond memories of the place. My brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner which ended with a hilarious 15 minutes standing in the dining room and toasting and re-toasting the champagne with my and my future sister-in-law’s families both stuck in a fit of giggles. I’ll always remember standing in the hallway during my 24th birthday party, talking to my oldest brother on the phone: the moment he delivered the news that I was going to be an aunt. Hosting family Thanksgiving with my family and Zach’s family in attendance and Razorback football projected on the wall of our garage. We lost the game, but it didn’t matter–at least we had each other. There was the morning we came back home for a quick beer and shower after running a half marathon for the first time. And the morning we woke up and saw our trash can melted to the ground after we had accidentally dumped grill ashes that weren’t quite out yet. The last snuggly evening with our cat, Mei, before she went outside never to return. And then adopting a new kitten and nursing her back to health on the salmon-tiled floor of the master bathroom. The hours spent in the spare room working away at my thesis–typing and typing, then pacing nervously, talking to Zach while he played video games, drinking too much coffee, and then typing more. Making sushi for the first time. Learning that stuff isn’t everything after a month of cleaning and organizing. Holding a surprise “Congratulations you got a new job” party for Zach complete with champagne and his summer theme song.
Walking in on Monday evening, our last day as homeowners, to a lemon-scented, beautifully clean house with dazzling hardwood floors and a great open foyer. It looked like a brand new home. It was empty, open, ready and awaiting it’s brand new adventure with a new family. The moment I realized that our house is now a home for someone new.