Farewell [an open letter to our house]
It seems a little silly to be writing a letter to a house. For over 13 years now, Matt and I have done this military life together and that has meant many moves zigzagging the country. Never have I been so attached to a house. If you’ve read any of my older blog posts about making a house a home then you’ll recall my saying that a house doesn’t make a home it’s the people. Well, being together with my people for the last three weeks without our house, we still do not feel at home.
Our home was that house that we spent days painting, weeks renovating, days decorating. Our home was that house where we gathered on the couch for movie nights, where Millie took her first steps, where Peighton learned to ride a bike, and Millie perfected her dancing abilities. Our home was that house where we waved goodbye to Matt as he went off to school to pursue a goal he had been dreaming about… the memories we’ve made, the things these walls have seen, it’s more than a house to us.
To the first home we’ve ever loved,
Walking through you for the last time, I realized you were exactly what I didn’t know I needed. After two deployments in three years, we were tired. We had no way of knowing the sense of calm and center you would be for our family in the years to come. As a military family, we never stay anywhere long. Our roots have never had a chance to grow very deep before being plucked and sent on our way and we’ve come to terms with that.
We bought you as an experiment, we wanted something of our own. One that would let us explore our creativity in the art of home renovations. You allowed us to flex our muscles, gave us room to breathe, and show our style without limitations.
The journey of your transformation has been amazing. We poured into you because we loved you from the start. The bathrooms we renovated, the beautiful mantel that we created, the light fixtures we changed, the cabinets and walls we painted – none of it felt like work – it felt as though we were the brushes and you were the canvas, together we made something wonderful.
The transformation wasn’t just yours, it happened to us. In October, we first turned the key as new homeowners with a spunky three and a half year old and a freshly born baby. We watch fall turn to winter and celebrated our first Christmas with you. We were overjoyed because we would finally have a fireplace to hang stockings. Matt built fires even on relatively warm days just because we loved having an actual wood-burning fireplace.
I remember the day we moved her crib out of our bedroom and into her own where I would rock her to sleep each night while singing you are my sunshine. I remember watching Millie walk for the first time across your floors. Before long those tiny steps turned into full-blown sprints and we were chasing her all over listening to her full belly laugh all along the way.
Do you remember that time Millie climbed out of her crib in the night and I couldn’t find her anywhere? You saw me. For a solid two minutes, I was panicked until I found her sleeping peacefully on the floor of her closet. I laughed and felt relieved and told that story to everyone I knew.
I think it was when Matt left for school that I realized you had become more than a house to us. It was the summer of 2017 we heard that Matt would have the incredible opportunity to go to school in Kentucky for two years to pursue his goal of becoming an officer in the Navy’s Medical Service Corps. With little notice and many unknowns, we decided that the girls and I would stay behind in Florida. It had to have been because of the safety, comfort, and feeling of home that would allow us to make such a decision.
Those months and years felt long at the time but as the days ticked down it felt like those months weren’t long enough. We didn’t have enough time sitting in the front yard with our neighbors. We baked hundreds of batches of cookies but what I would give to bake in that kitchen again. We didn’t have enough bike rides around the culdesac. The truth is, no amount of time would feel like enough with you.
You’ve been more than a house. You’ve been the home of so many memories. You’ve heard the most joyful laughs and the most terrifying cries. You’ve heard the sweet secrets the girls have whispered into my ears and you’ve watched the precious moments of our everyday lives.
You remember the night Peighton lost her first tooth standing in my bathroom. It had been loose for days but she wasn’t ready to pull it out. Finally, one night before bed we stood in the bathroom and she let me gently tug it out. She beamed with pride and I prompted wracked my brain to remember if we had any cash in the house.
And I can only imagine what another set of eyes would have thought about that snake incident. You know, when Matt left the garage door open letting in a snake. With our neighbors, we tore the house apart that Sunday afternoon only to find him three days later taking up residence in our bathroom. What an experience that was.
Your walls are painted, you’ve been cleaned from top to bottom, hiding all evidence of our existence. Another family will soon call you theirs and you’ll be the keeper of their secrets, their laughs, and cries.
We were home because you were home. I know now, home isn’t just having your people around. It’s more. It’s a combination of things. It’s being together with your family in a place that you call your own, one that you love.
Thank you house, you were just what we needed. I miss you old friend.
Made me cry. You’re one of my favorite bloggers. I’m sad for you but also so excited to see what comes next!
Beth, you are so kind to say that! Especially in such a challenging time! There’s been so much talk about blogs being dead so hearing that you have a favorite blogger(s) gives me hope!
Beautifully written! I’ve loved watching you transform this home and wish you the best during your transition to your next home. We also moved in 2015 and again earlier this year…..goodbyes are so hard, to houses, people, community…..hugs!
Thank you, Sara. It’s always hard to say goodbye to people and community but this is the first time I’ve really struggled with leaving our house but that probably also still had a lot to do with the people/community! Wishing you the best in your new home as well!
I almost cried reading this. Precious. I hope your new house becomes as much of a home as this one was.
Thank you so much, Nichole! I hope so too!
Houses become homes and often are a crucial part of our security and identity. I have felt it too, but know that anywhere I settle my life with my loved ones, it can start all over again. We are so lucky to have such wonderful memories to cherish always of the homes we’ve lived in! Your new home will be cherished too, Chelsea!
It is true, once settled I’m sure we’ll feel at home too. I’m so grateful for all of the sweet memories we’ve had in that house and the amazing neighbors we’re lucky to call friends.
What a sweet lovely post – it’s kind of about not feeling enough time with our family as our children are growing, as well. I wish we could slow it down. I know you will create a new haven for your beautiful family and wish you luck on your move and settling in, Chelsea:)
Thanks, Krista. It really is hard battling Father Time isn’t it?
Oo, I love the line “we were home because you were home.” I feel that! We’re a military family too and each home has been such a special part of our story. I always have to walk around each room after the movers have been there, everything has been cleaned and the kids are loaded up, to say goodbye and just feel the feels one more time.
You are making a beautiful home again!!
I still feel so emotionally attached to that house! Our neighbors had a lot to do with it and we’ll never be able to replace them even though we are so happy with our new neighbors. It’s hard.