Saying Goodbye to The Big Beautiful House by Cindy H.
Tears streamed down my face. I checked my makeup in the rear view mirror. “Damn it, there goes my mascara!” It seems like I’m always in my car when unexpected emotions show up.
The sun was just coming up over the treetops while I sat in early morning traffic. This is my late, late, always late as hell life. Why can’t I get it together? I am in hyper-speed at all times, except when I’m in the car. That’s when everything slows to a crawl, so there’s plenty of time to daydream and plenty of time add up all of my disappointments and regrets.
The traffic light turned red. My mind drifted back to my old leather journal, where silly girlhood fantasies and wishes were written in purple ink. I thought about the old scrapbook where magazine cutouts were glued and glittered and dreamed about. As a teenager, I was sure I would grow up to live in a big, gorgeous house with a sprawling front yard in the suburbs. There I would raise happy children with Prince Charming, paint museum-quality works of art, host memorable Christmas parties and have time left over to write best-selling novels. I was sure that I would have it all.
But life never goes as planned, does it? We don’t expect the curveballs, but they come anyway. Curveballs leave bruises and scars. They also leave behind important stories for us to tell.
Today we signed the papers to sell our house to somebody else.
We are letting the dream house go. I have decided to let the fantasy go as well. I am tired of these tears. It is time.
Seven years ago we moved to a beautiful, desirable neighborhood in a gorgeous suburb. It was on my Dream List to live in this particular superb. I consider this move one the best decisions we’ve ever made. Definitely no regrets. The beautiful house became a part of us. My daughters were just 6 and 8 years old at the time, so they spent their most important growing-up years in this home.
My girls learned to ride a bike in this home. They learned to decorate Christmas cookies and Easter eggs. They meet their lifelong, very best friends just down the street. They hosted countless all-night sleepovers. They had summer swim parties and American Idol Karaoke birthday parties in the backyard. They played Barbies and dress-up and practiced kissing on the bathroom mirrors. We put up scary monsters on Halloween and went trick-or-treating in witch costumes. And when the Barbies were no longer cool and the bedtime storybooks were put away in the attic, it was time to re-paint their rooms and swear off the color pink. Soon they got their first cell phones and Facebook accounts. Amanda invited her very first boyfriend over for dinner in this house.
So many good memories.
We wanted to keep this house forever. We planned on keeping this house forever. We tried our best for years. But financial hardships began to snowball until it was too large to manage any longer. Sure, I could blame the loss of my husband’s job in 2008. I could blame the national housing collapse five years ago. I could blame my embarrassingly low salary. I could blame the old 1970’s plumbing, the broken pool pump, the aging attic furnace, the broken appliances, or the holes in the ceiling. But none of that does any good. Finding blame or reason doesn’t ease the sorrow, the pain, the regret. The sorrow remains.
A year-and-a-half ago we moved out of our big, beautiful house and into a rent house. The dream house has sat, empty and abandoned, on the real estate market all this time. And during that time, my husband and I agonized over whether or not to take the house back. We lost countless hours of sleep over the decision. At one point, we came so close to moving back, we even told our landlord we were moving out. Which was the right thing to do? Go back and fight for it with every last dime we had or walk away? Either way, we knew we were going to pay a heavy toll of regret.
Of course, my teenagers wanted their house back. Emotionally, I wanted it back, too. If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I mean. A house is like a family member. It is so much more than brick and mortar. It is a part of you. And for a long time, I couldn’t let it go. But now it’s time to say goodbye to an old friend. In this season of our lives, I think it’s the best thing for all of us. But that doesn’t make it hurt less. I hope someday my daughters will understand why we had to let it go. That college and their futures were more important than a mortgage payment that we could no longer afford.
Financial hardships can tear weak families apart. But we aren’t weak, we are strong. We may never own a dream house again, or drive a brand new car or go on an expensive vacation. But I’m okay with that. Maybe the dreams in that old leather diary of mine didn’t come true exactly as I had planned. I didn’t get to keep the big house. I haven’t had time to pick up a paintbrush in years, my Christmas parties are really lame and I’ll never write even a mediocre novel.
But I DO get to raise happy, beautiful, perfect young girls with Mr. Prince. So what if our castle fell apart? We didn’t. And that’s the most important thing of all. We are still a family no matter where we live. I couldn’t ask for more.
Here’s some more pictures of the big, beautiful house:
Let me apologize for the bummer nature of today’s post. All of my stories are usually funny or just plain silly, but I took a break from humor, just this once, to tell this true story. Have you ever lost a house you loved? Did you get over it? Write and let me know.