Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our first home

I have that horrible, anxious feeling. Maybe it's because I had too much tea this morning. Or maybe it's because I had an annoying conversation with my sister. Anyway, I am now very anxious and want to get out or just scream, but I can't because I have a two-year-old sitting here who is almost ready for his nap. He just crawled up on me, gave me a hug and said, "I miss you! So much!" I'm pretty sure that he means "I love you so much", but he always says he misses me.

Is he ultra-perceptive, sensing that I'm not quite myself? Maybe he knows what he's saying, and he means that he misses the happy, congenial me when I'm in this mental state. Hm.

Oh, I have so much to do! I am in the middle of repairing a corner in my bathroom that has gotten wet too many times and corroded away--not something you can ignore if you are trying to sell your house, which we are. This house is great, but it does have its flaws.

We moved here in July 2004, after my husband got transferred from his job from California. It was a deliberate transfer, as I am from the Midwest and wanted to be closer to my family for a while after having lived in California for the six years prior. He was willing to give it a shot, so he put in for a transfer, which ended up being a promotion, and we started the process of buying our first home and moving to Kansas.

We would never have been able to afford to get into the market there in California, so when we saw that you could buy entire homes here for under $100K, we jumped at the chance. I made one trip there by myself to scout out neighborhoods and find a house, which was unsuccessful, so I had to do the rest of our house hunt by internet. We had a very helpful Realtor who took pictures of homes for us from all angles, and my sister joined in on the house hunting process by going along with him and giving her opinion.

As we started to count down the weeks, we realized that we needed to get into a place fast and we settled on the 2 bedroom/2 bath house we now live in. We bought it for $89,900, thinking that if we didn't end up liking it there we could always sell it and move again later.

On the day we arrived in Kansas, the first place we stopped was the escrow office to sign the papers and buy our first home. With our Realtor leading the way, we drove to the house under a stormy July sky along roads aligned with emerald green trees and grass: it was the complete opposite of California, and I loved it.

The house was just as we thought it would be, but it was very old and smelled like an old house. You see, the home was built in 1900 and had recently been completely gutted and remodeled, so while the walls and fixtures were new, the floors and basic structure were all over 100 years old. In all honesty, we were probably both a little disappointed with the house at first, but we were so excited to finally have a home of our own that we didn't complain. At first.

As the months and years went by, we found plenty to complain about. From the old floors, to the leaky roof, to the neighbors who we had to call the cops on in the middle of the night for having a knock-down-drag out fight on their front porch, our new home was far from perfect.
Here's a tip if you ever buy an old house: original hardwood floors are good in theory, but once you hear the creaks and see the cracks big enough for ants to crawl through, they sort of lose their romance.

We tried to sell the house two other times, never with any success, but this time we mean business. My husband has been transferred to a job about 45 minutes West, and that commute is incredibly inconvenient when you actually like your family and want to spend as much time with them as possible. So, we've got it on the market and are doing all the things one does when one's house is up for sale. Keeping it clean is the hardest part: Have you ever tried to keep a house presentable, much less sparkling clean, with a two-year-old, two dogs, and a husband who is gone 60-70 hours a week? Ye-ah. Close to impossible.

Actually, I sort of wish we could stay here. Because even though the schools aren't that great and every closet and storage space is overflowing, this house really has become our home. All the unsavory neighbors have finally moved out and the whole neighborhood is full of children playing in the streets and in our double-lot every day. My son has friends who actually enjoy his two-year-old company, even though they are mostly much older. We carpeted most of the floors when our son started crawling, and we just added a new 30-year Timberline roof, so leaks are a thing of the past. I even have come to appreciate the small size of our home, if only for the fact that it's so much easier and quicker to clean than a larger house would be. Add all that to the fact that this is the longest we've ever lived in one place and it becomes clear that I'm really going to miss this place.

So here I've been blogging about our house when what I really need to do is clean and repair it. On a final note, as an ode to our first home, I'll post up some pictures of the old gal. Here's to you, House!



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