Twenty-one days ago, at 9am US Central time, the hubby and I closed on our first house. Twenty-one days ago, by about 9pm US Central time, I wanted to give the house back.
December 8th, after weeks of showing little to no outward signs of anxiety, sentimentality, fear, nervousness or any number of other emotions one might display for such a huge change, I paced. The culmination of nerves, rearing its head to explode, buzzed through my veins as my eyes flicked to the clock every few minutes, waiting to finally walk out the door and make it all official. I felt all those emotions at some point or another during the month and a half long process as we watched favorite listings sell before we could see them, as we walked house after house that just didn’t cut it up close, or through each cycle of paperwork, wait, repeat. The 8th however, they all vied for my attention at once.
We were buying a house. We were going to be home owners. We would be leaving our fifth-floor, one-bedroom, apartment, the place we called home for eight years, and trading it in for a two-story, three-bedroom, house that, if all goes well, we’ll call home for the next 40 plus. We were trading in our rent for a mortgage, paid public-parking for a two car garage. We were walking away from property managers that took care of broken exhaust fans and leaking ceilings to either figure it ourselves or pay to have someone figure it out for us.
All of that excited me. Our mortgage is less than our rent. I’d no longer have to make a trip to the parking office to pay for parking each month. I wouldn’t have to wait for maintenance to fix things when I could probably do it myself. Nor would I have to wait for maintenance to come back and clean up the mess they started.
I felt so prepared for closing day. Heck, I had the whole weekend planned out. I had the list of cleaning supplies I wanted to bring so we could clean all the surfaces before we moved in. I had a list of small projects I wanted to tackle right out the gate, like the ridiculously low handrail to the basement stairs. We had paint samples picked out for the four rooms we wanted painted before furniture was moved. I even had spreadsheets made up so we could measure each room and all the windows, and map the outlets to their switches/lights/breakers.
Closing day, we were in and out of the bank by 10am. Hardly thirty minutes later we were walking through our house for the first time without a realtor as chaperon. We moved the supplies we brought with us into the house, cleaned up a bit, and took a picture of ourselves playing the inaugural game of Othello. It was the only pic we took that first weekend.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning (but not enough), shopping (but again, not enough), and eating (probably too much). We kept getting distracted with details, things that needed to get done but probably could have waited. By the time we called it quits for the day and went back to our apartment, I never wanted to leave our fifth-floor, one-bedroom home again. It was too much. There was too much to do and not enough time, or money, our available hands when we needed/wanted them. I officially felt like I was in way over my head, and I wanted nothing more than my mommy to give me hug and make it all go away.
I didn’t want to deal with the uneven basement floor, too narrow and too steep stairs, or the doors that suffered more abuse than I can describe but are all custom sizes so there’s no quick fix. I didn’t want to look at the trim work that is so old and caked with paint the details are blurring, or the trim work that is new but poorly cut and still had the finishing nails poking out. I didn’t want to redo the poorly caulked seams of the shower or windows. I didn’t want to walk into a room and notice another spot where the previous children doodled on the floor/wall/ceiling/appliance Mostly, I didn’t want to see another thing in that house that was done so poorly I’d have to add it to my to-do list, because that list was already longer than a lifetime of Christmas wish lists.
I didn’t want the house anymore. What had I been thinking wanting it in the first place?! Then, I felt bad for not wanting it. I was the one who pushed for buying a house instead of finding a larger apartment – it just makes more fiscal sense to buy versus rent. I wanted a yard. The husband wants a dog. We both want kids. All of those things couldn’t happen with an apartment where we wanted to live. I had wanted house, but not at the end of that first day. The end of that first day and I would have happily opted to live the apartment life until the end of my life.
Twenty-one days later, the ridiculously low handrail hasn’t been fixed, though we have all the parts. The furniture has all been moved in, but the walls still need to be painted. We have yet to take measurements or learn where all the outlets/switches/lights/breakers go. Twenty-one days later we are still stumbling across odd and awkward fixes, and children’s scribbles, but I love our house. I’ve woken up every morning after that first day in awe that we own a house and excited and optimistic about the changes we want and need to make, and I can hardly wait to share the experiences.