Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day we closed on our current house. Yes, I still use the slightly mocking name because it's a little absurd to live in a big house when there are only three of us. But you know, between Diana's quilting, my periodic telecommuting and our relative perceptions on value (stuff costs half as much here than it did in Seattle), it still felt right.
I'm honestly just getting to the point where I feel like this is really home. The ridiculous year we've had has made it hard to enjoy it. The first wrinkle was the fact that the first buyer on our previous house fell through. It was ridiculous for the mortgage company to even approve them in a provisional way, and the only non-refundable part of the deposit was $1,800. They strung us along for a few months. We ended up going five months with two mortgages. Right after that I lost my job, and I needed to juggle the cash for the car replacement and solar that were already in play. As a result, I still haven't recast the mortgage, but I'm only a few weeks away from that, finally. I should have known better than to try to do all of those things at once, because in the end it basically erased a year of savings.
We're enduring a backlog of warranty work right now. Our upstairs hallway wasn't entirely level, there were trim problems I didn't see until we had been here awhile, some stucco issues outside, screens that didn't sit well, mostly minor things. Pulte's warranty guy wanted to fight me on some cabinets that we started to notice appeared scrubbed with an abrasive, once the sun started shining on them at dinner time, and he tried to pin it on us. Then, all of those photos I took during construction came in handy when one appeared on Facebook, showing the damage. They're replacing those now. The carpet is total shit, and I expect we'll have to replace it in a few short years.
Now I'm working again, the car and solar project are done, and our overall cash flow is almost back to where it was a year ago, I can finally enjoy the house instead of having it remind me of all the problems surrounding buying it. This is the first place I've lived that it felt like I was really comfortable, and could see a future in it. I mean, I'm never going to call it a "forever home," because if career doesn't take me away before then, we'd like to live near the ocean after Simon graduates, and that's only a decade out. But I like the idea of staying put and making this the base for what I expect to be some intense years of parenthood and work. The last place, at three and a half years, was definitely an "ours" place, not rented, and not with history, but in retrospect we probably should have gone a little bigger in the first place.
Getting the place settled is still an ongoing process. I just finished installing cabinet hardware in the bathrooms a few weeks ago. The living room went without a rug for about 10 months. Stuff has very slowly made it onto the walls, and the only room we painted was Simon's. Even the chair in the living room is a recent addition. I'm so glad that we sucked it up and got the hardwood floor downstairs and the iron railings, because being slow decorators, those features are already something nice we didn't have to do. This ridiculous 20-foot wall in the living room desperately needs something. I love the sun coming in every evening, but it points out how remarkably featureless it is.
I love my office, and it pains me that I'm not working from it very often. Since the job change, I've worked from home I think three times. It's really comfortable, but it doesn't make sense for me to hangout there because I'd be in there alone. The playroom has become a cozy spot, especially since I bought a cheap TV for that room on Prime day. Our bedroom really is a retreat, but we don't really spend any time there not sleeping. The patio is wonderful, and I like to spend time there even when it's 90 outside. Then during the half of the year that is non-swamp-ass, we can open up that big sliding door and it's like adding square footage. Oh, and the fireworks every night, reflecting in the pond, that doesn't get old. Independence Day and the New Year are particularly epic.
Of course, what makes any place special is the people. We have pretty great neighbors, and there are a ton of kids in the neighborhood on what is essentially a cul de sac (once the construction is done, at least). We've only had two parties, but have been grateful for the friends and family who have visited us. Sometimes it's just nice to have my darling wife here, cooking something with garlic, or Simon cuddled up to watch a movie. It feels warm with the people.
I still don't view home the way that the freakshows on HGTV do, but this one does make me feel comfortable and happy. I feel like mostly good things happen here. It feels like home.