Before I graduated college, I had a home of my own. Granted, it existed strictly in my mind, but it was real enough for me. You can ask my college roommate – she witnessed several design ideas, in several design notebooks, along with several “dream home” plans pecked out in Microsoft Paint. I wanted a house – bad – and not because I wanted to move out of my parents’ house, but rather because I had so many design ideas in my head. And one day during my Senior year in college, I was at home visiting my parents, and the IKEA catalog arrived. That pretty much launched me into full-on house-dreaming mode. There was no stopping me.
So, fast forward through my college graduation, the first year of my first full-time teaching job, a lot of online searching, meeting with an awesome real estate agent (who I later married) and finally to Friday, January 31, 2003. That was the day I officially bought my first home.
My home is a small, hundred-year-old townhouse with views of the Delaware River and the BB Bridge. It’s situated in a small town with an ice cream shop, pizza joint, several antique stores, a sewing shop, Irish pub, French restaurant, and various festivals throughout the year.
In 9 nine years I’ve managed to renovate every room in the house to some extent. The living room, kitchen, bathroom, hallways, and main bedroom were the biggest and most dramatic jobs. The other 2 bedrooms (offices, for now) have been less intensive, but still needed carpet and paint at the minimum. I never thought I’d live here more than 2 or 3 years, but here we are, 9 years later.
At the time I write this, I sit in my living room, and see how far I’ve come. I remember that night, after the papers were signed and the keys placed in my hand. I popped a bottle of champagne with my parents and then loaded up my Jetta and headed for my new digs. Me, Chris, my brother, and one of my dearest friends, Rachel, had pizza and beer in my kitchen and then put together some furniture from the aforementioned IKEA. I remember feeling so many things, but mostly, a sense of excited renewal. I was in a new place, in a new relationship, with so many new things on the horizon. It was surreal.
I remember waking up the next morning on the floor of my bedroom and looking at the walls. I remember walking down the hall to the bathroom and grazing my fingertips along those walls. These walls were mine, and yet, I didn’t feel confined. I felt like the walls were more freeing than limiting. Over the years, these walls have seen a lot of things. A lot of wonderful things.
That first weekend, my parents, brother, and friends helped me rip out carpet, clean every accessible surface, unpack, organize, and have a ton of fun. My brother even decided to play a practical joke on me to make me think the house was haunted. It worked for about 15 minutes until I figured it out. I still can’t go into that closet without laughing…
I look back over these 9 years and I am still amazed at what this little house has done for my life. It’s been a creative outlet, a place to make memories with my husband, a hub for hosting parties, a good financial investment, and a safe haven for the better part of a decade. I recall these things and the feelings I had when I first embarked on this journey, and I know, now more than ever, home truly is where the heart lives.