In 2010 I arrived here, six months pregnant with our first baby, practically having kicked and screamed the entire ride from our comfortable, familiar duplex in a suburb outside of Philadelphia. I never once hid what I had sacrificed for this house (my husband would prefer to say "compromised") and to this day, there isn't a week that passes that I don't think about the distance we are from my parents, my very first (and only) nursing job I left that I loved so much, and the incredible patients, friends and patients' families-turned-friends I had the pleasure of meeting, all of those many years ago.
We moved in on a blustery, ice cold morning in late February and I spent the first three years desperately trying to move back "home" to PA knowing full well somewhere in my heart of hearts that Maryland would become my permanent home whether I liked it or not.
After having walked through this house several times during the initial home-buying process, I hesitated putting an offer on it until finally, I called my Dad, right there from the front yard. I needed him to tell me that it would be okay, that I would grow to love it, that I would see the potential that this tired little colonial had, tucked in a quaint, quiet slice of Suburbia.
Here we are, six years later and the house I once swore I couldn't love, because of it's distance from my parents, because of its unknown and its tired bones, feels more like home to me than any of the previous apartments, townhouses and duplexes I lived in as an adult.
I swore I wouldn't be emotional about this move. After all, "it's just a house," I would tell myself, knowing full well that it's the people, not the house, that make it a home. But what a home we've made.
I started off strong, packing boxes left and right, never once giving thought to the many shades of paint that have graced the living room walls thanks to my incredibly indecisive nature or to the entryway hall where little feet took big steps for the very first time and I fell to my knees in the kitchen, arms outstretched with unimaginable joy.
As more and more pictures came down from the walls, I began thinking about how many times I've stood on the front porch, first as two, then three, then five, smiling for a camera. Or how many times I've begged and pleaded with sweet little boys to stop fidgeting, to sit on the stoop nicely and to "give mama one good and decent cheese face."
The same stoop where we've sat and waved to countless garbage trucks, filled the baskets of trick-or-treaters and blown endless bottles of bubbles. It's where we stand each morning and yell to Daddy to "beep and wave" as we send him off to work, sometimes still in our pajamas, other times wrapped up in blankets, our breath catching from the crisp, cold biting winter air, tiny fingers busy squiggling designs in the frost on the front door.
Between loading box after box into the POD that sat ominously in our driveway, I glanced over at the rough drywall patch in the den that I gave my husband hell about for years. The tiny uneven square of Spackle and drywall that drove me absolutely batty since it was never "picture perfect." The spot he attempted to blend seamlessly with the wall after a YouTube tutorial and DIY attempt at hidden wiring.
Today that spot looked and felt like home, in all of it's imperfect glory, undoubtedly because after years of guarding my heart and my emotions, I learned to let go and live here.
That's when it hit me. In this house, we learned how to be a family. Through sleepless nights, lots of Google and days of trial and error, my husband and I learned how to be parents to not one, or two but three beautiful baby boys. Similarly as the years progressed, our sons learned how to be brothers and friends.
We learned how to love hard and deep and well in this house and that's not something I will easily forget.
Our boys, however, will probably never remember this house. To them, it will be nothing more than "The Old House," and one they learn about through pictures and stories and in those sudden moments when we're blindsided by a memory of a first birthday, a first Christmas or that time I went into pre-term labor and didn't even know it save for my girlfriend who was standing there in the kitchen with me and had the wherewithal to phone my doctor and let them know she was driving me into the office.
So it's in these final moments here, even though the walls are bare, the rooms too echo-y, this space feeling no more like our own, that I'll sit here on the floor of the family room and be forever grateful to have taken a chance on this tired little colonial, the place where "We" became "Us."
It's time for one last porch picture and to move onto the Next Best Thing...