The staircase snagged my heart the moment I walked through the front door. I pictured it hung with garland during the Christmas season, an image that comes to life each year.
Young, our hands clasped together without even rings between us, we tumbled into our first home purchase thinking of renovations and restaurants, guest rooms and nightlife. We were planning for the short term, a wedding the most permanent future prospect.
Kids and schools and the size of the yard weren’t even on our horizons.
For years our house fit; we tore out carpet and refinished floors, painted the cove ceilings and detailed built-ins characteristic of a house built in the 1920s. When the plaster walls crumbled during the hanging of something particularly heavy, we could drink a cocktail in laughter and leave the mess for the morning.
Then the housing market fell apart, and our first child came home, snuggled into a room that was once our study. We decided I would quit my full-time teaching job to stay home with our kids after our second baby took up residence in our former guest room.
Toys crept into spaces that seemed too small. Summer nights left me cringing at the language our neighbors screamed at each other, the danger of living on a main street eclipsed the vicinity to nightlife we rarely have a chance to participate in any longer.
Our oldest is beginning her last year of preschool this year, and with kindergarten looming, moving is constantly in my thoughts. We’re stuck in the position between wanting to make improvements on the home and knowing the selling price is likely to be the same regardless of the improvements we actually make.
I dream of school districts and quieter neighborhoods. Pinterest rooms tickle my imagination with things I’d like to do, and I wonder when I’ll have a chance to decorate our “forever” home. I often click away with a sigh, knowing we’ll (relatively) soon have to pare down and neutralize our decor in an attempt to make it attractive to sellers.
Prior to the last year, I never thought of my house the way I thought of my clothes or shoes; it took me years to see it as an extension of me and my style, wrapped into a practical package. I would be lying if I didn’t say some days it makes me cringe.
But the other day, while casually talking about “a new house,” Abbey’s brow wrinkled in worry. “But Mommy, I like my bed. And my dollhouse. And my stuffed animals.”
Hugging her, I reassured her that our things would move with us whenever we can finally make it work to move. I wish, wish, wish I knew when that day would be, but until now I’m trying to hold onto her perspective of where we live.
Despite its flaws, it’s still our home. And that staircase still wears its Christmas garland with flair.
Has the housing market affected your housing and/or moving plans?