Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My House is My Home; My Home is My Family

So I mentioned awhile back that we had our house on the market. We didn't need to move, but we figured we would put it on and if we could sell it fast for a good price, maybe we'd take advantage of low interest rates to get into our Forever Home.

Clearly, seeing as I agreed to put a house up for sale when I didn't need to, I had NO IDEA just how much it sucks. The entire 2.5 months it was on the market I was cataloguing the myriad ways it sucked so I could come here and complain about it. I thought about it, though, and decided that 1) hellllooooo First World Problem, and 2) anyone who has ever sold a house is well aware how much it sucks and anyone who hasn't....well, let's just keep that a nice surprise for you someday.

In the end, we came close to a deal a couple of times but all the houses we were interested in buying had already sold and the whole thing started to feel a little pointless. We took it off the market a week or so before we left for vacation and I am not sure I have EVER breathed a bigger sigh of relief. It's a huge amount of work keeping a house ready to show at a moment's notice, but more than that I really hated not feeling like I had my sanctuary. We are Home People. We like to be at home, hanging out. We eat the vast majority of our meals at home and feeding my family is one way I have learned that I express nurturing. I like being surrounded by the objects and photos we've collected along the way (though we are definitely not knick-knack types). For the most part, it's a safe place where I can relax my eagle eye on the kids and know they'll be ok.

Preparing a home for sale in this country seems to mean making it as impersonal as possible; photos come down, personal design aesthetics should disappear and really you're supposed to provide a neutral backdrop for potential buyers to imagine playing THEIR lives out on, rather than giving any little glimpses into how you've spent your time in the home. My mother-in-law marveled at the process when she was here...apparently in England it is not uncommon for owners themselves to show the home and there is not the same requirement to keep the home immaculate.

Anyway, all this to say it is a huge relief to have our space back to ourselves. I always prefer a tidy house, but I typically do NOT mop the floors every single day. The day after we took it off the market Chris cooked smelly Indian food for us and I am reveling in being able to cook whatever I want without worrying about lingering food smells. Our photos are slowly going back up on the walls, though we have yet to re-hang our gallery wall (I've decided to take the opportunity to update it which means it *might* be back up before the end of the year). Sometimes I even leave underwear on the floor in my bathroom, just because I can.

I don't regret the experience because I think we learned a lot about the process and about our particular home and what we'd need to invest in should we decide to give it another go next year. We have also identified a few things we really don't like about the house that we CAN change, and will start slowly tackling those as we have time/energy/want to spend the cash. I just couldn't be happier that it's done and we have our Happy Place back.


I've always been prone to homesickness. When I was a kid, I don't know how many times my parents came to pick me up in the middle of the night because I couldn't stop crying to sleep. It's not that I didn't have fun at friends' houses, I just always imagined the normal scene at my own house and longed to be there. It still hits me sometimes...I've been on lovely vacations before and really just wanted to be back at home.

This recent vacation was different though. Chris and I took different flights out there since he was flying for work (lord help me), and he met up with us late in the afternoon on the first day of the trip. The kids and I arrived at my sister's house after the flight and an hour-long train ride. I'd never been to the area she lives in now and had only seen a few pictures of her new house. We started to get settled in but I was having a few of the familiar pangs of "I wish I was at home right now." As soon as Chris arrived in the afternoon, however, all traces of the feeling disappeared. I had my family around me - with the added bonus of my sister, brother-in-law and nephew - and it felt like I was back at home.

Sometimes I wonder whether it has less to do with being a certain place than with being a part of things. Perhaps it's a middle child thing...I don't want to be the center of attention (EVER), but please don't leave me out! I feel a similar feeling when I'm at a wedding or visiting a friend that has a new baby. Although you're invited to bear witness to these events, you're not really part of them. It's not like I WANT to be a part of someone else's intensely personal experience...maybe it's partly the realization that those events are over for me and it's more nostalgia than anything else.

ANYWAY, badly described in a terribly rambling manner, but it's very comforting to know that my sense of home travels with me now in the form of my three most important people.

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