She Says… Goodnight, Home

I know we’re not moving for three more days, but recently my mind has been filled with all of the wonderful memories we made in our current house and how, slowly but surely, it transformed from our first house into our first home. As I pack boxes of our furniture and clothes and shoes and take the pictures off the walls, I know we are going to see all of them again once we open up those boxes in the new house. We’ll set up the rooms with the same couch and tables and chairs. We’ll hang the same clothes in our closet. Turn off the same lamps before we go to bed. But it won’t be the same. As excited as I am to move, I can’t help but feel a bit sad thinking of leaving this home behind.

Our first home.

It’s kind of like a first love. I’ll think back on it fondly, remembering all of the good parts and none of the bad.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you the story of our engagement, but for this post the only important thing about it is that it happened during my senior year in college. That’s right, I was a baby. A baby majoring in architectural studies, totally obsessed with design of all kinds, and yearning for my own house to renovate/decorate/redesign. As soon as that ring was on my finger, I we began dreaming of the day when we would have our first house. We bought the 100 year old house shortly after I graduated (aka before we were married — gasp!), and our love affair began.

I asked Benjamin to think of some of his favorite memories in our house and was surprised to see that the first one on his list was one I don’t even really remember. That, like so many other once-precious moments, has gone the way of the dinosaurs in my brain. Tucked behind other, newer things, like Owen’s dimpley grin and how his chubby feet squirm when I tickle them.

The first memory on Benjamin’s list was coming home mid-afternoon on the day after our wedding and falling asleep together on the couch, surrounded by wedding presents. While I may not remember that particular nap (sweet as that memory is), I do remember opening each wedding present as it arrived and finding a “home” for each gift and realizing, little by little, that we were doing more than just playing house. I remember trying on my wedding dress and my veil in front of the mirror and knowing that THIS was the place I was going to come back to with my new husband. There is something so wonderful about having the house before our wedding; it feels like having an old friend who has known you your whole life.

I cannot even begin to count the number of hours of sweat equity we put into this house over the last 6 years. We painted and scrubbed and scraped and tore down and built up and painted again and laid tile and used tools we’d never used before and painted again. We stayed up until all hours of the night painting by the light of a single lamp. Our friends helped us build a fence around our backyard, fueled by a few cases of beer and a pneumatic nail gun rented from Home Depot. We ripped the entire top floor down to the studs and built it back up again so that we could have a nursery. This house expanded to make room for the most important project of all. Most of the projects turned out pretty well, but with a few warts. Evidence to the fact that aside from our enthusiasm and watching a lot of HGTV, we really had no experience in this department to speak of. That was the beauty of it all. The messing up. I won’t miss all that painting, though.

If these walls could talk, they’d probably also tell some stories of pretty awesome parties we threw (back in the day). I love to entertain. I love the planning and the cooking and the setting up. I love getting all of our friends in one room and having that room be in my house. Every New Year’s Eve we used to have a party complete with an ice luge on our side porch. Ahhh, how times have changed. Do you know what we did this past New Year’s Eve? Neither do I. I think we both fell asleep super early. No party. And definitely no ice luge. (Don’t get me wrong — my midnight nursing session with my favorite little boy was all the party I needed this year!).

I remember the day that we brought baby Schnitzel home too. He was SO TINY (which is amazing to think about now, because he’s easily taller than Benjamin on his hind legs and about 75 lbs heavier than he was that day), just 12 weeks old. We carried him up the stairs and set his oversized puppy paws on the wood floor and let him run around and sniff everything. Immediately, he peed. On the kitchen floor. That night he slept in his crate beside our bed and his sad whimpers, calling for his brothers and sisters, broke our hearts. I spent the whole night with my hand dangling over the edge of the bed with my fingers in the crate so he knew I was there.

We tried (and tried and tried and tried) to make a baby in this house. And then we finally did. That, by far, is my favorite moment. I grew that baby in this house. Waddling, with my basketball-sized tummy, up and down the stairs and dreaming of the day that I would carry a baby in my arms. And then one day I got to do that too.

I know it’s not the house that matters, it’s the memories. But it’s pretty amazing how one place can hold so many of the most important moments of your life.

Goodnight Home.

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22 responses to “She Says… Goodnight, Home

  1. oh man this almost made me cry!! i would be a weepy mess if i was leaving my house. (we have VERY similar stories. our house is 100 yrs old too. i bought it one year before we got married [i say that because nick was still in college for 2 more yrs so it was 100% my money]. we kept it empty a year to and moved in after our wedding, which i say this to you like every year but we have the same anniversary 6-10-06). this post was awesome and i loved seeing the pictures of your house room by room. i know you will miss it but how cool to be opening a new chapter of your life!!! can’t wait to see pics of the new place!

  2. Oh boy. This was me when we left Atlanta! We lived in that apartment before we got married (actually, and another one before it) and I remember packing for the wedding and closing the door and saying, “The next time we come into this apartment we’ll be married!”

  3. I just got goosebumps. Beautiful post. I get nostalgic about the places I’ve lived, but I think the place where we first came home as a married couple, the place we first decorated as “home” together, the nursery, the place we welcomed Elle home from the hospital … yeah. I think when we leave our current place it will be a happy but amazingly emotional day.

    Love the stories your walls hold – and so excited for you all in your new adventure!

  4. How much do I love getting a glimpse into your home? It’s gorgeous, just like I knew it would be. So excited to see pics of the new house once you are settled.

    The love of your first home is exactly like a first love… you’re passionate about it and you only remember the good. Just over three years ago, I had to leave my fabulous & tiny little cottage in Charleston, SC– I had bought it (with my parents) a few months before Rob came into the picture. He moved in with me 6 months later & by the end of the year we were engaged. Three months later (in the middle of wedding planning) he got the job in Alabama and we moved.

    The day Rob packed up and left (a month before I did) he glanced over his shoulder, remembering fond memories, and walked out the door. I, on the other hand spent my final days weeping over the loss of my first house “love.” It was incredibly hard to leave because it was the first place that was truly mine…and I adored it.

    I know that when we outgrow this house and move (likely in the next few years) I’ll be emotional to leave… perhaps not as bad as the first time, but it will definitely be difficult to leave the house that we became a true family in– the first house we bought together, the place we brought our babies home to and the home where we grew from two to four.

  5. this DID make me cry. We are in the process of moving to a whole new city, leaving the house that we bought before we were married, where there were wedding photos taken, where we brought two babies home, where we became a family. It made me so happy to read this, and to know that where we move next is just a new chapter in the story of us…..

  6. You guys decorated you old house beautifully. I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of your new house(big hgtv fan here) 🙂

  7. Beautiful post- it made me excited about moving into our first home soon, and less despondent about the current road blocks on our baby making journey! Good luck for your next chapter (though I guess it’s really started already…) Owen will always feel special, as the kid who lived in your first home with you!

  8. So…can you help me decorate my house as nicely as yours?? Please? Maybe a “how to for design idiots” blog series?

    Also, I felt like I had already seen your bathroom before, but then I remembered the infamous 6am bathroom video and realized why it looked familiar 🙂

  9. What a beautiful home and a beautiful nod to all of the wonderful memories you have there. I can only IMAGINE how beautiful your new home will be when you finish adding your own splash of personality! Your home is beautiful and I agree with Kara! Our home still has the blah neutral tones it had when we moved in. I’m very anxious to change it but haven’t mustered up the energy since the “great nursery project of 2010”! lol

  10. Your home is beautiful–so very new. Best wishes as you move to put down new roots!

  11. Hi Kate! This is so sweet! This is actually how I felt leaving our D.C. apartment – it’s where Ben and I started our lives together, got married and brought Keira home to….I still feel emotional thinking about it 🙂 What I love so much about our new home is that it will be where we raise our family…at least for awhile – and the first home that Keira remembers! We’re so excited for you guys and your new home – but this is a nice farewell for the place your family began! xoxo

  12. What a beautifully written post. I’m sure our move from our house will be emotional as well. It’s hard to leave a place with so many memories and that you have put so much time into.

  13. This just about sent me to tears, as we’ve been discussing moving out of our current home lately. We rent the house we live in now, and have lived here since before we got married. I did all the same things you talk about here: married here, opening wedding gifts, growing a baby, etc. Our decision to move is generally based on lifestyle changes, and is just one more thing in a long list that we’re doing, but the idea of leaving the place that holds so many of my favorite memories is heartbreaking. In the end, I know it will be better for our family, but it’s hard not to walk around throughout the day and think of all that’s happened while we’ve lived here and know that I’ll miss it in ways I can’t ever explain.

  14. I’m gonna miss your old place too!

    Good luck with the move.

  15. Beautiful post, Kate 🙂

  16. you certainly have a way with words Kate. Beautiful post! love the pics of your old home 🙂

  17. Your home is beautiful and I’m sure filled with MANY memories. Now your new home can have new special memories! Good luck moving!

  18. We live in an old farmhouse built in 1875 (136 years old!) After we bought it many years ago we tore it apart right down to the boards and started rebuilding/renovating. Then we moved – 2,000 km away with 3 tiny kids, one an infant, just before Christmas and me crying all the way. Van broke down halfway, U-Haul had problems, baby had ear infection – a disaster by any name. Fortunately we were able to keep our home here – renting it out at first and then using it to come back in the summers (we live on an island surrounded by ocean.)

    Three years ago we returned and continue(d) renovating so, while we are still living in our first “owned” home where the kids were conceived and raised for the first few years of their lives, it is also a “new” home as all the renovations, including knocking out/moving walls, have completely changed it since the day we bought it. Except for one thing – the lovely, peaceful “vibe” it has, making me know that I am “home”.

  19. Aw what a beautiful post!
    I know the new place will bring so many wonderful memories too!
    Good luck with the move!

  20. What a beautiful post!

  21. Oh, this got me all teary. We live in a small condo that we’re outgrowing more and more with each passing day. We’ll reach a point in the next few years where we’ll have to buy a house. And that’s exciting (a lawn! no shared walls! more bedrooms!). But I’ve lived in that condo for more than 6 years… longer than any other home I’ve ever lived in and it’s so special to me and holds so many amazing memories. Thanks for sharing this. (Also? Please come decorate my condo, thanks.)

  22. The work you did on your house is beautiful! You leave your own fingerprints of love. And you’ll take that love to your new home! Congrats on the new house!

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