I stopped at Lowe's on Saturday for some odds-and-ends. I let the girls stop at the paint chip kiosk to consider bedroom colors for their new room. It may be putting the cart before the horse a bit, since we have not even made an offer. But alas, the #SchultzHouseHunt has officially begun.
I've been dreading this, to be perfectly honest.
We owned a home once before, it was the first order of business when I got my first job. It was a beautiful little townhome in Lawrence with a sweet enclosed patio and warm kitchen. We brought Carolyn home from the hospital to that little house. She learned to walk there and posed for her first and second Christmas card photos in the make-shift photo studio Brandon had created in the kitchen. She ran naked from the bath to her beautiful nursery with wide blue stripes and white furniture. She bounced in her Johnny Jump Up in the living room. I loved that house.
Then Brandon got a job in Lee's Summit and I was commuting to Lenexa everyday so we decided we needed to move. When the full-priced offer on our beloved house included a very quick moving date we were left in a bit of a lurch, but conveniently my grandparents had a duplex coming available that we could move into while we figured out a housing solution.
I had just found out I was pregnant and I remember the time being a bit hurried and stressful. The morning we were moving into the duplex the current renters were moving out. We would come in the front door as they were going out the garage. The poor woman who was leaving was very pregnant and had not been able to give the kitchen and bathrooms a good scrub, so we unpacked boxes and scrubbed simultaneously. My Grandma was down on the kitchen floor with me, prepping for our family's transition to Kansas City, making us feel comfortable and welcome in this new place.
For many months we considered the duplex a temporary solution. Then we brought baby Julia home to the duplex and we celebrated a Christmas, and then another. I quit my first job, stayed home for a while, then started at Black & Veatch. The memories began to pile up.
And then in November of 2008 on an ordinairy Thursday night, my phone rang. I stood in the kitchen staring at the cluttered refrigerator door... the memory is still very clear... and my mom told me that they thought my Grandma had had a stroke. I tried staying calm, Brandon was somewhere not at home, I called him and asked him to come home quickly so I could go be with my Grandma. Then another call, I was on the couch, it was not a stroke, it was much worse, I should hurry. My in-laws came right over, I sobbed the whole way to the hospital. Brandon drove. In three short days my Grandma was gone.
For a while I marked time with that Thursday. "She was still alive last week right now" I would think to myself, then "last month right now", then "last year right now." My sister gave us all a beautifully framed photo of my grandparents on their front porch and I hung it in one of the most traveled spots in our home, in her home technically. At the urging of my Grandpa I took her clothes, I hung them in our spare closet. In the meantime I subconsciously hunkered down emotionally and financially to stay put in the duplex, right where she left me, as completely odd as that might sound seven years later.
I did not connect all of these pieces at the time, of course. It took a move to Baltimore and many hours with an exceptional therapist to truly appreciate the important roll my Grandma had played in my life and why her sudden death was still having ripple effects years later. When I confessed to the therapist, in a moment of complete emotional honesty, that I could never leave the duplex because my Grandma "couldn't find me if I did" I realized that I had emotional work to do. Healing.
So, I have, I think. I have thought often about Grandma and what she had hoped for me, for Brandon, for our girls... even the little one she never met. I have cleaned out the closet in the spare room. I have parted with toys she gave the girls that they had long-since outgrown. I have saved money, rather than spend at-will, in order to be ready to make the monumental move. And, nine years after moving into this "temporary" duplex, I think we are ready to start another chapter of home ownership.
In April it will have been nine years since we moved into the duplex. This is the longest I have ever lived in one place at any time in my life. We brought two babies home to this house, started a business in this house, played countless games of Catan in this house and the girls went from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade in this house. It will be hard to leave our cozy little duplex, I'll probably cry a little, but it's time. Let the #SchultzHouseHunt begin!