Every morning when I take Molly to school, I drive past a house that recently was for sale. That’s not terribly unusual—’tis the season for home selling around here.
What caught my eye about this particular house, besides the huge blooming forsythia bush that took up the entire corner of the backyard, was the paper notice in the front window, the words HomePath on the for-sale sign, the obvious emptiness of the house.
Those three indicators point to one thing: foreclosure.
Just seeing it all made me sad. I wondered what happened to the former owners that led to them losing their house. Did someone get sick and the bills pile up? Was someone laid off and unable to get another job in time? Was death or divorce involved somehow?
The signs of foreclosure also reminded me of all the bank-owned houses that Randy, the girls and I looked at when we were searching for a “new” home a few years ago.
We were downsizing, and one of our primary goals was to find a solid house that we could remodel ourselves. (Not just a “bit of a fixer-upper,” as my favorite song from Frozen says, but not something that had to be gutted from top to bottom, either.) That’s why foreclosures held such appeal.
As we searched, we gave the listings names like “the mold house,” “the daycare house” and “the California split.” There was the house with cigarette butts around the entire outside perimeter that went on and off the market before we even put our house up for sale, and the house with tall, stately columns that I wanted to look at the minute I found it online, even though it was late at night.
(We never did pursue that one, which turned out to be a good thing given its close proximity to a home with a backyard that is transformed into a huge Halloween maze every year, free and open to the public.)
Randy and I have had nine addresses in our 21 years of marriage. That’s in stark contrast to the first half of my life, which was spent almost entirely in the same house.
It used to be a bit of a sticking point for me that the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere is five years. But after our latest move almost exactly four years ago, I feel differently about it.
I used to crave the stability that comes (I thought) with putting down strong, deep roots in one spot. Now, though, I realize that it isn’t the spot that creates the stability, it’s the people at the spot.
Whether it’s my parents, who now live in a ranch house on a city lot, as opposed to the three-story farmhouse on three acres where I grew up, or some dear Arkansas friends who sold their beautiful lake home and moved to town a few years ago, the story is the same. When I enter their front doors and see them there in their new surroundings, I don’t think of where they used to live.
I think of them now, and how glad I am to see them, right where they are.
This reminds me of something Molly did several months after we moved into our current home. By then, we’d done a few major improvements to make the house livable, but most of the real remodeling work was yet to come.
Molly didn’t care what the place looked like, though. During her first semester in a new school, where she knew no one and it took her a long time to make her first friend, our house was her sanctuary.
Which is why, on the first day of Christmas vacation, she found a little scrap of paper and scratched out the following words: “I love home”
More than three years later, that piece of paper is still on the refrigerator door, next to a worn copy of my favorite Bible verse and a little framed photo of Randy’s granny. We’ve all changed and grown (as has our house), but Molly’s words still ring true, at least for me.
I love home, but not because of the beautiful bookshelves in the living room, the sunny yellow laundry room or the immense garden patches outside. I love it because of the people who live here and the memories we’ve made together.
Memories that are forever attached to our hearts, not to a particular street address.