We sold the house we had lived in for five years last June. When we bought it in 2016, we knew it wouldn’t be our forever home. But even though I knew that, it didn’t stop me from nesting in it, falling in love and not wanting to leave.
I am the kind of person who becomes attached to things. Homes, sentimental decor, jewelry, and even cars. However, after my last car was totaled in a wreck that I was blessed to walk away from, I no longer have attachments to them. I’m also not a hoarder, and the last few years I’ve sold and given away a lot of “stuff” I wouldn’t have in my younger years.
But I still have a problem with homes. I’ve always wanted to be the girl who lives in her home, the same home, for many decades, if not most of her life. But that is not happening for me. It was difficult moving from my childhood home, and even more so since my parents sold it more than ten years ago. But this last house, our Ellicott City home, is harder.
I ask myself why. Why, when I knew we’d be moving again sooner than later, did I allow myself to become attached? Is it just that flaw in my personality? Was that house really that special? It wasn’t the first home my husband, Brian, and I shared. We lived for several years in a condo that I loved, but the condo belonged to Brian. Sure, we made it ours, but it wasn’t originally ours. The EC house was ours together. We found it, loved it, renovated it and made a ton of amazing memories in it. Brian called it our camelot (our time and place of idyllic happiness). It was the house that was beautiful, well-built and fit our needs perfectly.
A mid-century stone rancher with a large yard and a two-car garage, it was the best house we had seen the whole time we were shopping. And even though it needed updates and some fixing to make it perfect for us, it was already a diamond. I guess I knew from the beginning that I would not want to sell it.
But, in January of 2021, it was inevitable that we would put it on the market that Spring. And I absolutely dreaded the idea of packing everything in boxes, getting rid of stuff and saying goodbye to a house, our home, that was always good to us. And we were good to it. We painted, refinished the hardwood floors, expanded the garage, finished the basement, replaced the roof, did tons of landscaping and loved the hell out of her. We enjoyed coming home. We enjoyed hosting our family and friends. Holiday dinners and new year’s parties. Classic cars, vans, trucks, boats came and went through that driveway and garage. We packed so much into those five short years that I’m still a bit in shock that it’s over.
Luckily for us, the housing market was good last year, and our time and work in our house paid off financially. But it wasn’t about the money and never is for me. I wanted a family to buy our house and enjoy it as much as we did, even more so. It was an awesome family house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big yard, quiet neighborhood and within walking distance to an elementary and middle school.
However, in the end, we had a harder time than I thought finding a buyer. Because it wasn’t a big house and was older, many families passed on it. The one solid offer we received was from a retired woman from New Jersey who said it was “her house” as soon as she saw the pictures online. After accepting her offer, we met her daughter, who loved the house but started talking about all the changes they were going to make. Changes? I was confused. I thought she loved the house. Why would she change it? I know people typically make some changes, like we did, but she was planning on gutting it and changing all the things that made this adorable vintage rancher what it was meant to be.
We visited our old neighbors and good friends, Bob and CeCe, last August, two months after we moved. CeCe insisted we go over to our old house and see what the contractor was working on. I hesitated, but my curiosity won. I wish it hadn’t because I nearly cried when I stepped inside our once beautiful home and saw that it was almost completely gutted. And I do mean gutted. All the walls were removed, everything taken out and disposed of. She didn’t want the large garage, the refinished hardwood floors and the original floor plan. No, this lady bought a 1950’s stone rancher and turned it into a cookie-cutter contemporary house. She even dry-walled over the gorgeous stone fireplace and painted the mantel black! She turned the three bedrooms into two and the two bathrooms into one.
Writing this, I feel the sadness welling up inside me.
She finally moved in a month ago, after eight months of renovation, but I haven’t seen the finished product. I only know what CeCe has told me. And I have no desire to see it. I regret seeing what I did last August. Why? I know it’s just a house, and it’s not our home anymore and hasn’t been since we sold it last June. Am I really still so attached to this house that we made into our home?
I’ve known people who sell their once-loved homes and swear that they never want to see them again. They don’t want to see what the next person does. They want to remember the home just as they left it. They want to keep those memories intact. I get it. And I should’ve done the same. But it’s hard to go back to the area and not peek at your old home.
I’ve been wanting to write about my EC home for quite some time now, but never could. The busyness of moving, getting settled, working, stressing and avoiding, stopped me. But today, nine months later, I felt compelled to finally express the anxiety and sadness I’ve been feeling for so long.
And now that the new owner has completely transformed my beloved EC house into her idea of home, I feel like it has less power over me. All I have to do is think about what this forced modern house must look like, and I know it is no longer mine. And I know she’ll never have our beautiful, perfect vintage rancher. She created something else, something that I feel nothing for, and that’s a good thing. I can look at photos and enjoy all the memories in my mind and heart. That place, our place, will always be ours. This new owner can’t take that away with her dry-wall fireplace and open-floor concept.
Sometimes I still want to go back to our EC home; not her house, but ours, the way we lived in it and loved it. I know I’ll probably always see that house in my dreams and desire to sit on our covered patio and watch the cardinals and woodpeckers eat the seed and suet I put out for them. And I’ll imagine running my hands along the stone on the fireplace and enjoy the view of our lovely front yard from the bay window of our third bedroom.
I just loved that house. My home.
There’s more to this story. The next part is our current house. We’ve been working hard to make it our home, but how can any house play second fiddle to our camelot?
Stay tuned for part two, and, in the meantime, love your home, make amazing memories and remember that it’s okay to cry if you have to leave it someday.