Late yesterday afternoon, the title transfer was complete, and I officially no longer own the home on Beaumont Drive in Brunswick, Ohio. Thus ends years of turmoil related to that house.
I bought the house with my first wife Stephanie back in 2001. We didn't really look around that extensively at the time, but the location was perfect because of its proximity to the freeway. It was also new. Some other buyer lost their financing, so the house was almost done when we first looked at it. We didn't get to pick anything for it, but fortunately it was all pretty neutral (and cheap) stuff.
The timing was pretty bad, because a few months after we moved in, 9/11 happened, and a month after that, I experienced the first (and longest) layoff of my career. If that weren't enough, my web sites were also taking off and I had just entered a 1-year contract for a T-1 to the house to host the sites. Even at a grand a month, it was the cheapest option I had. Between inventing the club, unemployment, and the money that Stephanie was making, even as a student, we made it work.
We never did much to really make the house our own on the inside outside of painting some rooms. Steph was pretty ambitious with landscaping, and it did look pretty nice on the outside. For a number of years, we really had some epic summer parties. I really enjoyed coming home to that house.
In 2005, Stephanie and I split, and she moved out. 1,850 square feet started to feel a little big. By the time Diana moved in on the first day of 2008, the house was starting to feel a little like it had some baggage. It was a rough couple of years, with some incredible highs and lows. When I refinanced in 2006, right after the divorce was final, I traded a slightly higher interest rate for a no-closing cost loan, because I thought I wouldn't live there that long. I also split the equity in the house with Steph, which was at its highest point that year, putting my loan almost to the point of the original purchase price. Not great timing, but in those days, it didn't seem like there was any ceiling to housing values.
It turned out that 2008 and 2009 were hard years to be employed in Cleveland. Insurance.com started its crash-and-burn, and I ended up working at a few companies that were financially a mess. Frustrated, I wondered if I could get a job at Microsoft on the east side of Seattle. I admired the company, and enjoyed visiting my brother-in-law's family there. I think it was the first time I ever really thought, "You know, you don't have to stay in Northeast Ohio," and was willing to act on it.
I found the right gig and I got hired, with the full move paid for. I was so done with Cleveland. Diana and I both had our houses for sale when we moved. Her house finally sold by way of short sale about six months in, but mine went nowhere. In fact, it kept going nowhere for almost two years. We were never financially at risk, but paying for two places to live sucked, and it wasn't getting us any closer to buying a house in Seattle.
In 2011, we made a trip back to Cleveland for the annual Coasting For Kids event my site helped start up, and the fits of nostalgia, especially at Cedar Point, really got to us. Despite that fact that every day in Snoqualmie was said, "Holy crap, we live here," for some reason we talked ourselves in to moving back to Cleveland if I could find a job. That took almost no time, so we decided to roll with it. The thinking was that we'd be much better off financially, and socially would have a much larger network. And we'd be back in that damn house.
The truth is that the financial park worked out, though I ended up working for a company in the next state, remotely. The work still kind of sucked there, even if there was plenty of it available and it paid well. Socially, we really cemented some of our closest friendships, but it wasn't what we had in Seattle. Winters were awful. We were getting more and more anxious to get out of there. The only thing we were truly enjoying about living there was Cedar Point, and the friendships we had because of it. I resented that fucking house. It was ultimately the only real reason we were there.
It seemed cool at first. We did a lot of little things around the house, the first priority being the removal of all of those fake brass fixtures and door knobs. We did some painting on the inside and the outside, and Diana aggressively removed landscaping to make it easier to maintain. But despite the quasi-nesting, it didn't feel like "our" house. Again, a lot of baggage, and it was still Cleveland. When we got around a foot of snow one morning in March, I think that might have been the turning point to decide to get out, once and for all.
I won't retell the story of how Orlando became the target of our move, but once we listed the house, it sold in 48 hours for the asking price. We priced it to move. The new owners seemed pretty excited, and I was excited for them. I might loathe the house because of the situation, but the structure itself was always a pretty cool place to live. It had an interesting layout, a nice lot size, and I'd like to think our finishing touches made it feel even more appealing. If you're not me, it's a pretty cool place to live.
Selling the house closes a chapter that I really hoped to close four years ago. The inability to sell it in 2009 instigated a pretty strange path for us, and I wonder how different things would be if it sold back then. I like where we're headed, and I'm happy to put that place behind me. I hope the new family enjoys the place.