Twenty-five years ago today we rented a truck and hired two strapping 20-year-olds and moved from a city apartment into our house on a tree-lined street in the suburbs. At the time we likely thought of this as our starter house. It wasn’t big or flashy, but it had character and charm.
For the first few years we used the bedroom on the first floor and rarely even went up to the second floor, so the house didn’t seem small. And then Julia was born, followed by Owen, followed by my working from home full-time, and the next thing you know we’re house-hunting in 2003. We spent almost a year looking at other houses, and none of them were good enough for me. None of them I liked better than the one we had. I infuriated our realtor with my requirements, the first of which was no vinyl or aluminum siding, followed by no cookie-cutter developments—and that eliminated a lot of houses.
We gave up the house search and decided to stay put. And so the renovations and upgrades began. The first and most significant change was a single project that included knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, putting in a new kitchen, plus waterproofing the basement and adding an office and playroom.
Then came a parade of changes over the ensuing years: making the breezeway a four-season room (perfect for morning coffee), installing a new front door, updating the bathrooms, replacing leaky windows, installing a new fireplace mantel, air conditioning. Outdoors too: new shed, gutters, steps and handrails, new patio, shutters on windows that were missing them, planting trees and cutting down trees, adding garden beds, putting in new front walkway (thanks, Jim), driveway paving, and building the little free library. I’ve probably painted every room in the house at least twice. The exterior has been painted four times (the price of no vinyl siding).
This was no starter house, it was the house. Our home. Packed with memories, life transitions, family dynamics. And a lot of love.
We can see the decision point again on the horizon: when will it be time to move? We don’t need to downsize, since we never upsized, but once the kids are established in their own lives and it’s just Harriet and me left, getting older, the preciousness of time accelerating, we may not want/be able to continue taking care of the house and property.
What would be next? We don’t know what, we don’t know where. Not yet. We’re still here, twenty-five years later, on Woodridge Road, in our humble and beloved abode.