This month marks seventeen years of living in the first, and only, house I have ever owned. I left home when I was eighteen and bought this house, with my husband at the time, when I was thirty-five. In the years in between I lived on the third floor of a three family house with my sister, second floor of a two family house with a boyfriend, I shared an enormous but tired five bedroom house, in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint on the walls, with four strangers, rented a small ranch style house with two women I met after answering their ad for a roommate, lived alone in a tiny two room apartment across from the town green, shared another two bedroom apartment with a woman I met after putting my own ad in the paper. When that woman moved out my brother moved in for a short time before getting married, then a weird guy who kept a pet raccoon in his truck; I suspected he let his pet in the house when my cat, who never went outside, became infested with fleas. He said he was a wildlife biologist, and maybe he was, but he worked for an exterminator and made me uncomfortable so I asked him to leave. A fellow student moved in after that. My next move found me in my then husband’s condo with him, his daughter and his mother. And somewhere in there I slept on my mom’s couch for a few months. I was good at moving.
Seventeen years is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place…..by about thirteen years. I loved this house the moment I saw it despite its old wallpaper in the dining room and kitchen, raspberry and navy blue walls in the living room, stairway and second floor hallway, linoleum kitchen floor so worn it was impossible to get clean. We peeled wallpaper, painted walls, pulled up linoleum, had wood floors sanded and treated, bought nice furniture, added a deck off the back. Going through my divorce I didn’t want to leave this house. I didn’t want any more changes and wasn’t ready to let it go so I bought him out and stayed put. There were years I struggled financially, with few home improvements, but still I hung on.
I’ve started sprucing the place up again. I spent the Spring and Summer planting a garden around the deck and landscaping the back yard. It’s time to go through the house, except the kitchen and bathrooms, with a paint brush and can of paint. I still love my house but can leave it now, when the time is right. It’s been seventeen years since I’ve moved but I bet it’s like riding a bike.