The death of a dream and the future we are walking into are absolutely related.
The quote above, and the other quotes interspersed throughout this blog, come from The Art of Simple podcast, episode 32: Placemaking. This particular podcast came into my queue at the perfect time and spoke just the words I needed to hear. I am a dreamer and planner. I do live in the moment, but always have a project I’m thinking about and planning for in the future. For about the past three years we (read: I, with a supportive husband) have been looking forward to selling our 1970s, Brady Bunch tri-level in a small “suburb” to move 7 miles up the road into a 75+ year old Craftsman home in the university town where I work, where our church community is, and within walking and biking distance of the places we go.
For three years I have followed realtor.com daily, saved houses, watched how the market was going, gone to open houses, and worked on all the little things we needed to do to get our house market-ready. I have painted everything, including our bathtub. Robert has replaced sinks, toilets, and fixtures. I have cleaned, decluttered, packed, and started to depersonalize our house. We have had quite a few roadblocks to getting our house on the market, but this past summer was IT. We finally got the house to the point where we were ready to bring a realtor over to do a market analysis, tell us what else we needed to repair/update/stage, and put a sign in our yard. Part of the reason for the move was also to downsize since we are now empty-nesters and are trying to embrace a more intentionally simple lifestyle. Therefore, we would “make money” on this deal regardless because we were going to buy a house that cost about 1/3 less than what we bought our house for. However, we had put some work into house and we had a magic number for the amount of money we wanted to get back. After her analysis, the realtor came back with a number $5000 less than what we had hoped. There is no rule that says we had to offer the house for the price she suggested. We could have still put it on the market at the price we wanted, but once we negotiated, paid closing costs, realtor fees, etc. it just kind of took the wind out of our sails.
Boom! It was immediate. We had this number in our heads, the realtor didn’t match it, and it was like instantly we knew we weren’t moving. It was a total God-thing. Robert hates moving with a passion. I don’t love the act of moving, but I do love the opportunity to get rid of stuff, settle in a new place, and potentially find our dream home. So after the realtor left our house, we talked, and we agreed not to sell. Robert kept asking me again and again if I was okay. He was saying that we could offer it at our price and see what happened or try to sell it ourselves so we wouldn’t have to worry about the realtor’s cut. It’s so weird, but I felt an immediate peace about not selling. I have been planning on and dreaming about moving for THREE SOLID YEARS and it just stopped. I had been looking at real estate online daily for over 1000 days and I just quit. I still have my “new house” Pinterest board, but I haven’t added anything to it.And now I have created new boards for making our current house even more of a home for us. One of the things I don’t like about our house is that we have so little natural light. We are surrounded by trees, our windows are small, and 1/3 of our house is halfway below ground. I am now re-envisioning light fixtures, paint, and flooring to make the house feel brighter. Aside from the lack of natural light and the dated 1970s exterior, we need new flooring throughout, the paint colors that a decorator chose for us are not really colors that I like, and the expensive Italian tile is not what I would have chosen, so now back to square one. We had painted every square inch of this house, inside and out. It’s dawning on me that some colors just aren’t “us” and other colors that I liked at the time, I have grown tired of. I kept my laundry room the same yellow throughout much of the house for continuity and resale, but I want a pink laundry/craft room, by golly! The green with brown accent wall in our formal living room will be re-imagined into light greys and muted blues in our home library with built-in book shelves.
In the podcast referenced above, Christie Purifoy says this
Home for me…is a place that I create. Something that I make.
Learning to be at home in a place is about loving one place–it’s so much like loving a person. We don’t love perfect people.
and then, this
I feel like everything I do…it’s all about placemaking, creating a special place and sharing it with other people…cultivating beauty right where I am.
So, that’s we where are. You’ll find us here in Plover on “Tree of Life” Lane. Yeah, I’ll still have to drive to work and I can’t easily walk or bike to the farmer’s market or the river. However, I have great neighbors and although we live in a subdivision, the back of our lot abuts a school forest to it feels like we live in middle of the woods. It’s dark and quiet and peaceful at night. We planted a church around a table in this dining room.
Our Brady Bunch house will be in a state of ongoing transition for the next 3-5 years. We have plans…big plans which include ripping out carpet, tearing out tile, new bathtubs, landscaping, cutting down trees, building a pergola, replacing windows, and putting in new doors. However, we are thrifty and we are do-it-yourselfers, so it will have to be a slow, process as we have time and money to get things done. In the meantime, being big believers in hospitality, we will continue to invite people into our mess to do life, eat meals, and watch the Packers. You just may have to step over paint cans and deal with some dust.
As I have been going through the loss of the dream of my craftsman home and embracing the idea of redefining my current home through my safe, secure, middle-class lens, I want to give a shout out to friends in Baton Rouge. Many of our friends and former co-workers lost their homes and all their furnishings, as well as their cars, in the flooding. We have followed photos on Facebook and instagram and seen all of their worldly goods heaped along the street for the garbage collectors. We have seen houses stripped to the studs and concrete foundations with cabinets and appliances sitting on the curb. But in the midst of that, these dear friends are getting to (forced to) reconsider their “place,” what home is and what it means, and what it should look like now.
I asked our friend Jessica Black for permission to share a photo that she posted to Instagram a few weeks ago. It moved me to tears and Robert’s comment was, “That is so Jess.” Jess just recently got married on July 10. She was just settling into her new life with her husband when they lost everything in the flood. They had a couple of days before he closed on his old house, so when their house flooded, they temporarily moved into his former place, as newlyweds on an air mattress. Here in the trauma of losing almost everything that they owned, Jess made a home for them on the floor through the simple act of a lamp and beautiful pillows…on an air mattress. This is placemaking at its purest form. This is home.