Life Here

It’s been a year since we first saw a sign advertising a waterfront home for sale by owner. And even though we didn’t purchase that home, it was the beginning of a new chapter for us.  The real estate process was long, exhausting, and stressful — had we known in June that it would take more than seven months of work and heartache to get where we are now, I don’t know whether we would have gone through with it all.

Tonight Nell wanted to go to the beach in her pajamas after dinner, so we did.  As it turns out, sandy pajamas are just one of the best parts of living here.

Sometimes I am amazed at how it all worked out — and just how close we came to missing this opportunity.  But from the day we started this crazy journey one year ago, I think we always knew that no matter how hard it got, it would be worth it.

The Next Page

Our house is empty right now.  It doesn’t resemble the home–the living, evolving, comforting piece of our lives–that it has been for almost six years.  Our world is in boxes and containers and crates–some marked priority (like Nellie’s favorite toys and my good wine, of course), and others that will take longer to get to when we finally settle in to a new house, a new home.  We’ve taken our pictures and paintings down, and all that remains are white spackle spots waiting to be repainted.

A clean slate waiting for a new family.

After months and months of delays and disappointments, it seems that it is really happening this time — this week.  The boxes have all been checked off, and the only ones that remain are those that will be unpacked in the coming days and weeks.

The hard part about moving is that the days leading up to it are so frenzied and so busy that it’s hard to acknowledge the emotion.  There isn’t time to let the feelings sink in — the sadness of leaving one home, the excitement of moving into another in — and before you know it, you’re out of the house without having a chance to pay homage to the amazing set of memories that will be housed forever within those walls.

The house in winter 07/08.

After our renovation in February 2008.

(This post is subtitled: Vehicles We Used to Own)

For a full run-down of our remodel (for those that are so inclined to reminisce OR wasting time at work), check out my blog BEFORE the blog — erinandgreg.com/dreamhome.  That was back in the day before I knew there were platforms for blogging.  Life is SO much easier now.  If only someone would migrate all that content for me.  Oh, and while we’re on Memory Lane — erinandgreg.com reminds me of all our happy wedding memories.  Swoon.

Right, we were talking about the house…a few other memories:

With our neighbor at our annual wine party in 2007

Sadly, I can’t find the pictures from one of my very favorite memories at this house — our rehearsal dinner.  Our amazing, wonderful crab feast at the house with so many of our very favorite friends and family.  It was one of the best nights I can remember, but the pictures are in cyberspace right now (or, more likely, on a different hard drive).

We were in this house when we became a family.  When we got married…

When we welcomed Nellie.

And when two dogs became three dogs…

There are a lot of memories I could share, but I think most of them are already preserved on this blog for us to return to when we’re feeling nostalgic.  In a few days we will begin a new chapter of our life as a family.  We have been living on faith for the past few months — faith it would all work out and lead to something better.  It hasn’t been the easiest path, and I know that we’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us.  It’s scary to take such a big leap — but even more so when you grab your entire family in your arms and jump.

The thing is, I wouldn’t read a book with only one chapter, so I can only imagine how boring life would be if there were never a chapter two.

Round and Round

Nellie has a favorite song right now: “Row, row, row your boat.”

Well, actually, her favorite might be “The wheels on the bus.”

I sing both, and she responds to both with “row, row, row, row,” while her arms weave back and forth in a slightly-circular, mildly-rowing motion.  And I don’t know — is she rowing? or is she going round and round?  Until she learns to sing another lyric, we might never be sure.  Sometimes a “buh” escapes, and I say, “Boat?”  And she looks at me quizzically.  So I say, “Bus?”  And she looks at me quizzically.  And then her lips form a tiny O, and she says, “Row, row, row, row.”

She sings it in bed, she sings it in the car, and she sings it while she walks around the kitchen destroying things.  And I have to say, I can’t get enough of listening to her tiny little voice singing.

“Row, row, row, row.”  (Or is it “round round round round?”)

The latter is probably more appropriate given life’s strange circle of events lately.  Back before the UnSale, we were supposed to close on our new home on Thursday–on November 8.  We didn’t obviously — in fact, with our storage contract ending at the end of October, we were more moved back in than moving out.

But a funny thing happened on Thursday: just when we were ready to call home home again, and just when we had made peace with the way things were, we got a new offer, from new buyers.

Deep breath.  Are we ready to start over?

As Nellie would say,

“Row, row, row.”

We’re under contract again, and this time it feels a little more right.

* * *

It’s sunny today, so we took the monkey and one yellow dog to the beach to play for an hour in the sand and the surf.

By the end of the year, if all goes well, we might not have to drive to the beach anymore.  We might be able to tote one kid, three dogs, and a wagon full of supplies to the beach whenever we want.  We would just need to step outside.

 

Fall Crunch

Life is a confusing dichotomy of emotions right now.  Though we are both busier than ever at work, we are slowing down at home.  New stresses have replaced old stresses, but in the midst of it all is a sense of relief.  That seed of doubt that had been planted firmly for the past few weeks is gone.  The dread of what we couldn’t control is gone.  In their stead is an emotional hangover — it would be a lie to say we aren’t disappointed about how it all turned out.  We both wanted to move forward, and we both had imagined our future in a new home.  But the sadness has a silver lining: a burden is removed–a concern that hung over us and tainted the excitement of what could have been.

The seasons have officially, fully turned, and so, too, has our focus.  It is back to the things that matter most.  Like teaching a toddler what the crunch of fallen leaves feels like under her feet.

And what fall smells like when the leaves are strewn across the yard.

And how our day starts over when we pick her up from daycare.

We tried our best to give Nellie a slightly different slice of life.  In the end, though, home hasn’t changed, and I don’t have any regrets about anything we did.  It is likely we are not moving this year, but we are moving on.

Nellie is leading the way.

 

UnSold

If you have to know, it fell apart over furniture.

I don’t think many real estate deals fall apart that way, but this one did.  And while that wasn’t the very last thing we argued about with our buyers, it was really the warning sign — the signal that we were never going to see eye-to-eye.

They didn’t just want our house — they wanted every piece of furniture in it.  For free.  When we countered their original offer, but said we would leave a three-piece leather set they had wanted, their response was, “We thought they were giving us everything?”

We did eventually move past that stumbling block…onward to signed contracts and inspections.  But we’ve had that seed of doubt in our mind ever since then — doubt that told us they wanted more, they expected more, they felt entitled to more.  And we knew it was going to be a long road.

The inspection on our house went great.  Our inspector even remarked to our Realtor and to our buyers that he wished his kids would buy our house — it is in better shape than most new houses.  Well, Mr. Inspector, tell your kids our house is available again.

Our buyers waited a week before responding to the inspection — an entire week before letting us know whether or not we could move forward with our loan, with our plans, with anything.  It was a short list from the inspection, but then there was another list: a lengthy “additionals” list that astonished even the most seasoned Realtors who saw it.

We said no, of course.  It had to end somewhere.  They had demanded more from us at every stage of the game, and it came down to trust.  We simply didn’t trust them.  They weren’t thinking about their future home — instead, they were obsessed with how much they could get, how much they could squeeze.  We were certain closing day would bring one more power play — something wouldn’t be satisfactory, something wouldn’t be enough — and they’d demand more.  What else did we have to give?

The buyers wanted to walk into our home with our furniture, with our sweat equity, and with all responsibility falling on us for the foreseeable future, and they wanted to call it their own.  But it wouldn’t be theirs.  That’s not how it works.  That’s not what makes a home.

So there you have it.  Even though there were disappointments and surprises that came long after, it really fell apart over the furniture.  By the end — by the time their list of additional items came to us — it was no longer about the money or the time or what they demanded or not.  We simply no longer wanted to sell them our house because they are not the right people for our home, our neighborhood, our friends.

So we gave them an easy out.

We finally said no.