There are so very many "firsts" throughout our lives. First steps, first words, first day of school! First job, first friend, first formal event. Oh my goodness there are so many Firsts! And for most people, while we go on to have 2nd, 3rd and 127th of things, and all of them are important, it's the "First" of anything is the one that stands out the most.
I imagine the inside of my brain to be sort of like the dusty, cob-webby attic of someone who never threw anything away. It's a big place that is just jam-packed with stacks and stacks of things in no particular order that makes sense to anyone. Things on top of stuff on top of doo-dads. TskTsk Tsk. It's all such a mess. EXCEPT for the section that holds firsts. All of that is just a tidy and orderly as it can be.
This comes to mind because back in Colorado, a couple who are very dear to us, just recently bought their first home. We are so very happy for them! Woohoo! Congrats! This is a huge! What an exciting step in their lives!
And of course it brought back memories of Tim and I buying our first home together.
When Tim and I first married, he gave up his smaller apartment and moved into my only marginally larger one. It consisted of a living/kitchen area, one bathroom, two bedrooms, Tim, me, the kids and two cats. We made it work, but knew we had to find larger quarters ASAP. So with great trepidation, we immediately began looking for a home together. Our budget was minuscule. It was so small it barely existed at all. But our realtor, bless her heart, was game to try. And she showed us home after home after home. And they all looked the same to us like rectangular boxes. Some of the rectangular boxes had two floors but most had one.
The interior layouts were virtually identical. There was nothing really wrong with any of them but none of them were really right either. My request was a more functional kitchen with work space, the boys specifically requested a yard big enough to throw a football around and Tim wouldn't consider anything that didn't have two bathrooms! But otherwise, we were open to suggestion. Or at least we thought we were.
It felt as if we were looking forever. One house was so saturated with cigar and cigarette smoke that we could barely breathe inside. Another house had a funky staircase that required anyone - even someone as short as me - to duck when walking up it or risk a concussion. A third had a backyard that while good sized, sloped so severely down that it was virtually unusable (and how on earth do you cut the grass? Seriously, it was more a cliff than a yard!)
After some months of searching and feeling very discouraged, Tim and I had a serious talk about realistic expectations. Perhaps, we thought, perhaps we need to dial down our hopes in our first home together. After all, a house is just walls, doors, windows and floors. What makes it a home is the people inside. So with a new attitude screwed firmly into place, we set out once more to visit homes with our realtor.
On the way back to our apartment from another uninspiring home tour, and actually on the brink of committing to a house that would suffice even though we didn't love it, Tim spied a for sale sign that we had never noticed before. It was on a road we rarely drove down and the house was set back from the street. It was surrounded by a stone wall and a thick row of maple mature maple trees. No wonder we hadn't noticed it before. We drove around the block several times and drove by slowly.
It was a older white colonial with blue trim and an enormous yard that sat on the corner of a busy road and a road we didn't even know existed so we were able to see the front, one side and even the back of the house by driving around the block. We fell deeply and instantly in love with this old house and couldn't wait to get home to call our realtor and ask about it. Why had she never mentioned it?
Obviously, the reason she hadn't brought it up to us was because it was over our budget. Dang. It wasn't over by a lot but still, did we want to over-extend ourselves? Was that even a possibility? We played with the numbers, stressed a lot, and ultimately decided that it just wouldn't be a smart decision to take that sort of financial risk. We didn't wan to be "house poor". We knew it was the right decision but we were very sad. And honestly it made looking at any other little rectangular box house even harder because we compared everything to that cute little white colonial that we had never even seen the inside of but already knew it was perfect for us.
We were torn between just buying any house that we could afford to get out of that cramped apartment and just making the best of it and quitting the house search entirely. Maybe we should stay put and save up awhile longer before house hunting again with a bigger budget. It was a discouraging time as we debating between the two ideas. We were unenthusiastic in the extreme about both options.
Out of the blue, one day in the midst of all of our back-n-forth, our realtor called us with some exciting news. The owners of the house had dropped the price. It was now in our price range! I think I may have cried a little bit. We immediately made plans to see the house inside and out!
Our instincts were correct. Not only did we love the outside of the house, we also loved the inside. The fact that it had been sitting empty for two years didn't dissuade us. The inspectors report listing the myriad of things that were wrong with the house did not impact our decision either. That was our house! And we immediately put into motion the wheels that make a house purchase possible.
In our excitement over actually getting to buy this house we both loved. I never stopped to think about the process involved. I honestly had no idea of all of the time and paperwork necessary. You need our credit history? Of course, here you go. And pay stubs, sure! And our eye colour and shoe size and...what else? My first born child? No. You cannot have that.
But eventually of course, even though the process itself was daunting, we did get through it and eventually came that terrifying and long anticipated day when we sat down with the mortgage people and signed page after page after endless page of paper and at the end, we were given the key to our first home together. The key to our future really.
Even though it was a small house, it was so much larger than our little apartment that I couldn't imagine how we would ever fill it up! But of course we did. And we began to make it ours. We stripped every single room of it's wall paper and painted all of the rooms. We refinished beautiful wood floors. The boys personalized their rooms. Eventually the roof was repaired, the septic system replaced, the well pump fixed and the electrical updated. We bombed for fleas immediately (A serious issue) but everything else was fixed over time. We replaced all of the doors and windows and reno'd the kitchen but kept the funky glass doorknobs. I built a garden or two or three and Tim built a patio. And we made so many wonderful memories in the ten years that we lived in that house.
When we moved to Colorado and we began a new house search we kept saying, if only we could have just packed up our entire Connecticut house and moved it with us to Colorado. That's how much we loved that little house. Even though we eventually ended up building a beautiful and much much larger home in Colorado that we loved, it still didn't touch our hearts quite the same as the adorable little First home in Connecticut.
And now here we are in our third home together. We love this little house too. (We seem to have gone backwards from a little house to a big house back to a small house.) But as much as we adore our new house and are enjoying fixing it up and making it our own, and as much as we also love our new town, our new state, our new friends, our new lives! It will never have quite the same spot in our hearts as our First home together.
Happy New Home Volesky's! May you be forever happy there ;)
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.