Just as the inspections and appraisals and mortgage applications start to wrap up and life becomes a little less bogged down with the bureaucracy of real estate transactions, I begin to get sentimental about the house I’m leaving. I haven’t changed my mind about moving, but it’s finally begun to sink in that I’m leaving my home of the last 7 ½ years, a home where I lived with (and survived) my two teenagers along with three cats and two dogs. The “kids” are on their journey to becoming adults, living away from home (mostly) and making their way through college. All three cats have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but the two rescue dogs I adopted are still here keeping me company. We’ve moved several times since the fire in May, but once we returned to the repaired house at end of October, we felt right back at home, different as it may have looked. By the time we move in two weeks, we’ll have been here 4 months, which is still one month less than the time we lived at the rental house during the rebuild. What a crazy year!
Perhaps my sentimental feelings come from having lived at this house longer than any other residence in my life. This is not because I was an army brat. I was an academia and divorce brat. I lived only nine months in my birth city of Lafayette, Indiana, just long enough for dad to finish up his Ph.D. at Purdue and get his first professor job at Allegheny College. Meadville, Pennsylvania was my home for the next four years. I don’t remember a whole lot from that time, but I do remember the snow and picking blueberries and a wonderful old lady, Mimi, who lived next door and loved me like a grandma would. My father’s next job was at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. I lived there as well as nearby Rockford and Oswego (moving with my mother as the folks divorced soon after the transplant to DeKalb) until I was nearly fifteen (about five different homes in all). Then I moved to Lubbock to live with dad, whose next and final academic job was at Texas Tech University. Living in Lubbock was a challenge given my Yankee upbringing and I left for liberal Austin as soon as I graduated high school (two dorms, one apartment, and a co-op). After college I lived in Germany for six years (a few more addresses) with my German fiancé/husband and then back to Austin for grad school and two babies and in the end, a divorce (I’ve lost track of how many apartments we inhabited then). Nine years and three addresses in Loma Linda, California followed and then back to Austin for the third time in 2004. I’ve been here ever since, in the very same house – seven years, eight months, and two weeks, give or take a day.
Most of the moves in my life were made by or for someone else. This move is just for me. It’s my empty nest move. For the very first time, I’m moving entirely by my own choice. It’s been a few years since I first decided to find a new home, so I’ve had time to consider my options. I could have moved closer to work, but when Joleen mentioned how she prefers to live in the area she enjoys most in her free time, I knew instantly that I agreed with her and began looking closer to the city center. Lots of friends encouraged me in the process, especially Debby, Alice, and Pam, who are also empty-nesters and understand my desire to start fresh in a new place. I asked Mary Jo, Bethany, and Matt how they liked their neighborhoods as I started scouting houses in those areas. When I complained about all the stress involved in selling, buying, and moving, Kevin and Lexie gave me some perspective and Ruben reminded me to keep my eyes on the prize, so I stopped (mostly). People from out of state, like Melinda and sister Leslie, or out of country, like Janet and Fiona, have called and e-mailed and texted me with encouraging words. And though I’m moving into what I call my empty-nester house, my son and daughter have not shown resentment or felt neglected. They know that there will always be a place for them whenever they visit me (or more enthusiastically, the dogs). As for the dogs – as long as they have some food and treats, a yard to run around in, and me to spoil them, they should do just fine.