Last year my husband and I made a list of things we needed to accomplish before we sell our house. This list included things like gutter upgrades, roof repairs, paint that needed updating, and a few small renovations. Now, almost a year later, our list is growing short. We’re on track to list our home in the spring as planned, and I’m both excited for our future and preemptively nostalgic.
Our home, the one we’re planning to sell, was the first place we lived together. We planned a wedding in this house. We adopted our dog in this house. After renting the house for a year, we bought it, shifting from renters to owners in a rather underwhelming fashion (no key ceremony or champagne, but no moving either!) We got our first adult jobs in this house, celebrated promotions in its kitchen, weathered storms of nature and emotion in the living room. We rang in the last five New Years in this house, surrounded by our friends and neighbors. We furnished it, painted it, and planned for our future in this house. We picked out the color of our someday baby’s nursery years before I was pregnant, taping the turquoise swatch to the bedroom wall to see how it looked in the light of every season. We brought our son home from the hospital to that turquoise room, took our first family photo on the front porch, and celebrated his first birthday in the backyard. The entirety of our family life has happened in this house and leaving now feels…disloyal.
We love our house, but we know it can’t grow with us. As we dream and plan for the future, for a larger family, for hosting holidays, for aging parents, our little house cannot serve us. I know this. I also know that I curse our house on a weekly basis for all the things it isn’t. I already feel the pinch of living without storage or counter space or a dishwasher and yet, I feel so saddened at the thought of leaving. Moving out of this house and into something with more growing room will also mean moving from this moment of life to the next and all the uncertainty that comes with it.
I want so much to stay in our little house, as if staying within its walls would keep time from slipping by. Our little house fits our little family well right as we are now. This moment of our life is one I wish I could stay in for eons. This sweet present where I am reached for by my son’s little hands, where I am able to give him the entirety of my attention and revolve my life around his needs. I want to dote upon him as he is, a toddler, my only child, as long as I can. On the other hand, I cannot wait for a new home to settle into, one with a playroom and more counter space. I cannot wait for the next moment of our lives, where my son is old enough to need me less, where I can imagine nursing another baby without guilt.
I know we’re no longer in the start of our lives and that this is the heart of my trepidation. We’re dipping our toes into the messy middle; and our starter home has outlived its usefulness. Our next home will see us through the next stage of our lives, one where we will hopefully experience more joy than pain, more births than deaths; but there will certainly be challenges to overcome and tragedies to suffer through. It is a part of life and one that I’ve felt mostly sheltered from by youth. It’s difficult to leave behind the home where we became a family and march toward the uncertainty of the future, but it’s time. All I can do is look back on our past with gratitude and hope that one day I will feel this way again many, many years from now when we start looking for a small house for our empty nest.
A house with less space, but so much love, a house much like the one we have now.
Shannon Curtin is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two collections of poetry, Motherland (Anchor and Plume Press), and File Cabinet Heart (ELJ Publications). She is the current poetry editor for The Quotable, and her writing has been featured in variety of literary magazines including Mothers Always Write, The Muddy River Review, The Mom Egg Review, and The Elephant Journal. Shannon holds an MBA, competitive shooting records, and her liquor. You can find her at www.shannonmazur.com and @Shannon_Mazur.