Monday, January 31, 2011

It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

It's not like I didn't ask for this. Want this. I wanted it badly. So badly in fact that I shed more than my fair share of tears during the time that we were looking and looking and not finding what it is that we were looking for.

Isn't that always the way? You search high and low for the next big thing, only to realize in the end just how much you already have. Well, it's that way for me this week. This week we will pack up the little, comfortable life that we have built in our first home. Our 1100 square foot home which was starting to feel too crowded with things, overwhelmed by the new life we added into it and nurtured and grew over the last three years. Our little home tried its best to keep up with us, to contain us, and it did its job for as long as it could.

It forced us to be close to each other. Some days closer that we wanted to be. It forced us to be efficient with our things, our routines, our emotions even. There certainly was nowhere to hide. Not from clutter, not from neighbours, certainly not from each other.

And so while we are all more than ready to move on, and we all know that it's the right time, the perfect time, now that our move is eminent I'm taking stock of our first little home. I'm looking around at the nicks in the hardwood and the cracks in the walls. The little stains on the carpet - from coffee during our morning rush and dog puke and baby pee. I'm looking at all the little things that have been maddening for me as my desire to move on grew stronger, and this week I'm thankful for all of them. These little signs of life. Little reminders that this was not just a house. It was our home.

I'm thankful for this little home, for the memories that she holds. Our first house together - a purchase that was one of the most exciting, thrilling things that I have ever done. Our first house as a married couple. The only home our daughter has ever known.

Leading up to this week it's been relatively easy for me to lose myself in the administration and organization required to search for, buy and sell a home. The paperwork, the budgeting, faxing and lawyers. The renovation planning, materials selection. Items that must be written down and ticked off one by one, just to make such big transactions possible.

Then the packing began and the job (not finished, btw) is massive, even with our well-edited (read: obsessive compulsively organized) space. These things were enough to keep me busy, to allow me to avoid facing the other impact of moving from the place we've called home for the last six years. The emotional impact.

And hoo-boy. If you know me, you know I like me some emotion. And now it's time. To take a few moments, a little trip down memory lane. I know it will be a weepy journey, but also a cathartic one. It's time to say goodbye to this place that we built, the two of us - then the three of us - into a safe, comfortable, loving, happy home.

Here she is in her infancy. What would become the main living floor - living and dining areas. There was something very special about buying a house from the plans. The excitement of watching it take shape, literally build up out of a hole in the ground. The feeling from the very start that it really was all yours.

Crown had to sneak in to take these pictures. I vividly remember waiting on the ground, keeping watch while he climbed around inside. I was nervous, worrying as always, that we'd get caught, but it was worth the worry to see these photos after. Our first glimpse of the house that we had worked so hard for.

The first time we laid eyes on our finished home was a fun day. We'd waited patiently for many months and I remember feeling anxious and giddy the week leading up to our first inspection. But it was love at first sight. The gleaming new floors and stark white walls spoke of possibility. A blank slate on which we could add our own mark.

Oh, how shiny you were. Gleaming and sparkling and new. I adored the newness and the knowledge that we'd be the first to do everything in here. I still love that about this house to this day. All of its marks and scars are our marks and scars. Our life wore her in.

Workin' those booties. Striking a pose.

The front hall. This has been the bane of my existence since the day we moved in. It's long and narrow and good for nothing. I have had it on my list to tackle with an overhaul for years, but since Bella arrived and with her a selection of strollers and a considerable reduction in both funds and free time, it has remained nothing more than an unkempt utility space. And not a very efficient one, at that.

My memories around the front hall are mostly sulky. Arriving home after a long day, a frustrating commute in the middle of winter, bitterly cold and heavily pregnant. Barely making it in the door before sitting on the stairs in a puddle of tears and frustration. Dismayed that somehow I'd gotten too huge to navigate this crowded, narrow, messy little space. I wish I could say I fit better down there today, but the truth is I just don't.

As we move up in the house, my memories grow much fonder. Our "dining room" can hardly be called a room at all, but we shared countless dinners with family, with friends, with each other. There have been more tears shed, laughter shared, conversations held at that little glass table than I can hope to recall. We searched high and low for our beloved vintage buffet and just like all things that are meant to be, when we first saw it, we knew it was the one. I still think it will never be as perfect as it is on that wall, right there.

Hard to believe that anything was ever accomplished in that tiny little kitchen, but many a delicious meal was prepared by Crown and enjoyed by us all. I cooked all of Bella's baby food from scratch in that little kitchen. My baby playing happily on the floor. The smell of cooking apples will forever take me right back here.

As I write this I'm staring at this exact view, except all the life has been stripped away. The contrast of what I see in this photo is remarkable. In this photo I see our life. If that couch could talk. Hours and hours spent on that couch. I laboured through the night on that couch for five hours before realizing that I need to go to the hospital. That my baby was on her way. Then I lay with her wrapped up together in the wee hours, while the rest of the world slept, and I dreamed of our future, of her future. And sometimes in those dreams I saw us in a new house. And now, those dreams, imagined on that couch, are coming true.

And this? Well this is where the magic happens. Heh. For real though? What can I say? My daughter was conceived in this room and that alone makes it special. But in the years before there was any hint of Bella, my best times were always spent tucked up in that bed. Weekend mornings with the paper and hot coffee, the dog snoring between us while we lounged and lazed. We've nursed ourselves through sickness in that bed. Spied on neighbours through the window, as I'm sure they spied on us. My baby slept in her bassinet next to me, brand-new, as I stared and stared.

Speaking of my baby. What can I say about her nursery? I can't. Except that it's the hardest room to leave behind. Because the significance here is too much. We're leaving her babyhood in this room. She'll grow up in the new house, and I can't wait to take that journey with her, but she'll only have ever been a baby in this one. This room is loaded with so many incredible moments that my heart can barely sustain them. It swells and bubbles over with the memories we created, the bond we developed, right here in this room.

And finally, our rooftop. Along with the location, it's the reason we bought this place. 380 square feet, with sunny west-facing exposure, I'll always regret that we didn't use us more often. But when we used it, we used it well. Parties and BBQ's for the best of friends. Hot summer nights spent drinking wine and eating burgers. And perhaps the most lovely memory of them all. A beautiful day in June, my mother-in-law's birthday, when we sat on this rooftop and gave her the best present - the news that she'd soon be a grandmother. I'll never forget how happy we made her on that perfect day. How happy we all were.

You have been good to us little house. We'll always remember you fondly as the place where we learned to nest, learned to love like we never imagined possible, learned to know - no matter how bittersweet - when it was time to move forward.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today my baby girl is 3 years old. I'm stunned. A full birthday post will have to wait because we're dead in the middle of packing and purging and washing and, of course, wrapping... getting ready for her party this afternoon.

So for now, enjoy the unbridled joy and excitement of my beautiful big girl (I really can't say baby anymore, but she always will be mine) yesterday as she prepared herself to say bye bye 2 and hello 3.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 40 (before 40): #2 - Check!

If you know me, follow me here at Beaches' Speeches, or on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, if you work with me, or have randomly found yourself within a 50 foot radius of me in the last 3 months, then you will already know this news - we bought a house!

#2 - Check!

You will also already know that I have developed a wee bit of a social networking addiction - the worst kind - the kind where you are trying to participate in ALL of them and as a result are participating in none of them very well. Sigh. The modern day pressures.

Anyhow, my shortcomings as a digital Goddess aside, I've been busy. So busy in fact that I haven't even had a chance to post pictures of our new house here. I have a gazillion pictures and I most definitely want to record this experience - house hunting, finding, buying, selling (#3 - Check!), packing, moving, and renovating (#4 - on it's way to being Check!) - for you in writing, but the time? It is not on my side.

This experience is an emotional rollercoaster and I'm right now hanging at the very top of the highest hill, about to tumble down over the side as my guts fly up out of my nose and I don't quite know at any instant whether I should laugh or cry. That is to say, I need to some time to write it all down effectively, engagingly and with the humour and smarts that these crazy past few months deserve.

So for now, behold some photos and commentary on the house we bought, and the home we hope it will soon become:

Here's the entranceway. It's getting completely redone OBVS, but what I'd like to point out here is the paint colour. What is that? Flesh? Yes, best described as flesh. The entire house is painted in it.

Living room. So much going on here that I don't know where to start. Oh! I know, let's start with the sexy-time photo the previous owners had above the (non-functioning) fireplace. Hot. Stuff.

Kitchen #1. There are three in this house. This one is "new". We will be living with it because we can't afford to take a sledgehammer to it as it deserves. Photo doesn't do it justice but trust me when I tell you that both the countertops and those curtains are purple.

Majestic double arches. These bitches are coming down.

Hardwood or vinyl runner? I know, it's so hard to tell. The trickiness!

The basement looks pretty great in this shot. What you can't see is that the door there on the right? Yeah, about four feet high. A basement for hobbits.

And what's behind that hobbit door? This lovely square bathroom suite, complete with bidet. That bad boy has washed a lot of asses. (Full disclosure, I've used this joke about 100 times, but it continues to crack me up.)

This is a strange little room off the kitchen that leads out to the backyard. Again, it looks cute in this shot, but what you can't see is that it's not heated and that door - yep, also about 4 feet high.

So that's a tiny sneak peak. We're in the middle of some serious renos right now so you can expect to see our transformation as it happens. As funny as we think the house was when we bought it, we love it and really, all I see when I look at it now is potential, potential, potential. Stay tuned...

And as a bonus, gotta post this little dude; he had a prime spot in the previous owners' dining room. He was so jolly and at home among the Jesus portraits and the ceiling fans. I wish I'd had him included in the sale: