When is a house not just a house?

Last week, I moved. There’s nothing remarkable about moving – annoying and stressful perhaps, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

I moved to a city I’ve wanted to live in my entire life. The man I love moved with me, and my best friend lives a hundred yards away. The beach is a block away. That’s pretty hard to beat.

I’m excited and hopeful about my new life in this place I adore with people I love. Yet, there was sadness. Profound sadness in having to say goodbye to the place I’ve called home for the past five years.

Atlanta wasn’t hard for me to leave. I’ve left once before, and because my family lives there I’m sure to return often. It’s the two-story house in the quiet cul-de-sac that I watched being built brick-by-brick that I’ll miss the most.

More than four walls and a roof, that house is five years of memories. My last night in the house I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about who I was when I bought that house and who I’d become.

Five years is hopefully just a small snippet of my life. A blip when I look back in thirty or forty years. But a lot happened in those five years inside those four walls.

It wasn’t just a two-story family room in the middle of an open floorplan I loved. It was the room where I set up two air mattresses so my brother and I could spend the night there just hours after I first got the keys.

It wasn’t just a home office. It was where I began writing my first book…and then my second…and then what might be my third. It was where I moved everything from my law office when I started writing for ESPN – something unimaginable when I bought the house.

It wasn’t just a backyard that sloped downhill in the shade where absolutely nothing I planted would grow. It was the backyard where I fell to the ground and gasped between sobs upon hearing the boy I’d loved for seven years had died suddenly in the middle of the night.

It’s the house where I mourned. Where I spent night after night on the couch watching too much television and eating bad takeout. Where I couldn’t stop going through pictures of him, even though they made me cry.

It’s also the house where I healed. Where I wrote my first fiction manuscript, loosely based on my relationship with that boy, which somehow freed me.

It’s the bathroom where I got ready for my first date with someone new. A first date that turned into forever.

It wasn’t just my house – in the end, it was our house. Mine and the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with. It was the first place I ever lived with a significant other. Where I gave up closet space I said I’d never give up to a man.

Thankfully, I get to move with him to our new place. Not a place that used to be mine, but a place that is genuinely ours, even if it is just a rental.

In this new town, where I’ve wanted to move for as long as I can remember, we get to create new memories together. It’s a blessing. A new chapter.

But that two-story brick with the miserable, shady, downhill backyard that I hated will always have a place in my heart.

Kristi breaks ground on her new house
Breaking ground on my house in January 2007

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  • Paul Davison
    June 5, 2012

    Thank you for this very moving post. God’s blessings on you and yours as you begin a new chapter in your life together.