Twenty years ago, in the dead of winter, after a year and a half of working with a realtor and losing every home we liked in a bidding war, I decided to take the job of finding us a home into my own hands. I made up a flier, found a neighborhood I liked, and then trudged through the snow in February and put a flier in the mailbox of every home that looked big enough for us and yet, still affordable. I didn’t know at the time that this is actually illegal. I just thought I was being industrious.
Fortunately, no one called the mailbox police on me so I didn’t have to serve time for wanton flier distribution.
My husband thought I was crazy for even trying to get a house this way. But that night I got a phone call from an older man who had gotten my flier and said he was planning to list the house in the spring, but if we wanted to come take a look now, that was okay with him.
And that was how we found our forever home.
We didn’t actually know this was going to be our forever home at the time. The house wasn’t really a house … it was more of a train wreck. The house had wall-to-wall red shag carpeting and yellowed wallpaper in every room. The kitchen was tragically stuck in the 1960s with a yellow stove that appeared to be one of the first ever made. One bathroom was pink and brown with wooden toilet seats and the other one was 50 shades of beige.
In car years, this house had about 200,000 miles on it. But as we walked through with the owner, he told us sweet stories about raising his five children in the house. I could imagine his family sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by red shag carpeting, eating dinner and talking about their day, and I knew we had to buy this house.
We had just enough money left to tear up the carpeting and tear down the wallpaper. And then we moved in and crossed our fingers that all the major appliances and what not that were dying would die one at a time, not all at once, so we could patch and replace at a pace we could afford.
Fortunately, it happened just that way.
The yellow stove was the last to go.
In the meantime, we lived our lives with lots of love in this house. We raised two kids and two dogs, multiple fish named Larry, and a bearded dragon named Einstein. We hosted countless sleepover parties and pool parties and pizza parties until the day came when the kids were no longer kids and they didn’t really want their parents at their parties any more. The first dog died, and eventually we got another. The wooden toilet seats were replaced just in time for the kids to leave for college. Twenty years later, the house has finally, completely been updated and repaired, and now it’s just my husband, the dog, and me.
And so, in a blink, forever became today. Like many, many empty nesters before us, we found that the house that never seemed big enough, has suddenly become too big. It’s too quiet, and too clean, and holds too many memories.
It’s time to move and start a new chapter.
So, I am now relocating once again, just as I did 20 years ago. We are leaving the ’burbs and heading back to the city and I fully expect to be “Lost in Suburbia” all over again. Because
“Lost in Suburbia” was never a geographical place … it was an existential one. I was lost in motherhood, lost without a job title, and lost in a sea of minivans. Now I’m going to be lost in midlife, lost without a different job title, and lost in my empty nest. So, I guess, to be more accurate, I’m going to be “Lost in Suburbia” in the city. I think that’s an oxymoron.
One thing is for sure. It’s going to be a fun ride.
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