It occurred to me during a recent conversation that although I am a real estate agent and my profession is about helping people find homes that they love, I have never been attached to any home I’ve lived in during my almost forty years on earth – until now. I could relate to all the logistical aspects of real estate transactions with my clients, but I realize now that I have not truly understood how one can have a deeply rooted connection to a physical building.
Growing up on the coast of North Carolina, I lived in several different homes throughout my childhood – now many of them affected by the recent flooding of Hurricane Florence. Despite whatever damages these childhood homes might have weathered, I am attached to the idea of the sleepy little fishing village and all of the memories made with my best friend and family, but not the actual houses. That area has undergone massive change and it no longer resembled the place I once knew, even prior to the hurricane. It isn’t the physical structures I wax nostalgic for, but the memories of childhood. The smell of the salty air, regardless of where I am, can take me back in an instant.
In my young adulthood, I lived in various parts of Central Florida. I am organically drawn to the sunshine and water but it wasn’t the forever place for me. My oldest two children were born there and I learned a lot of life lessons in that short span of time. Florida was a transitional place and the houses I lived in provided the much-needed shelter as I learned how to be a single mom. They were always a temporary holding place until the future opened up to promise. When we left, I was incredibly excited to bring my children to the culture and scenery of the Pacific Northwest. I had fallen in love with the area when I met my (now) husband and knew that it was the right place to raise my family.
Upon arrival in Washington, we realized our 840 sq ft two bedroom home in South Everett was far too cozy for our family of four (and Billy the beagle). Rather quickly the house hunting began and it wasn’t long before we had condensed our search for a new place down to two vastly different homes.
One house was in a suburban Bothell neighborhood with sidewalks, a small yard, and neighbors in close proximity. The other house was just a way out on nearly three acres, down a private dirt road and surrounded by woods. The town of Maltby feels rural but is actually convenient to civilization and amenities. When I went to view the Maltby home, I was immediately drawn to it. It had the same small town feeling that I missed from my childhood. We had just a few neighbors and room to spread out. Needless to say, it was a huge upgrade from the two-bedroom home we were currently living in. While I wasn’t too excited about the maintenance the yard would demand or the amount of work we’d have to invest to fix it up, I couldn’t overlook that the location was perfect and something inside me felt connected there.
When people look for a new home they are usually seeking something idyllic, if not nostalgic for a home they once loved. When they start a family they want a good school district, a park nearby, or a big backyard for the kids and dog to run. Newlyweds want a starter home with potential and charm, just the way they feel about their new relationship – a project to nourish and invest in. Having never loved a home before, I can say that the home search started out feeling more practical than inspired. However, I found something in the home we chose that I didn’t know was possible for me.
As it turns out, I’ve now lived in this home longer than any other home throughout my life. Our wedding reception, full of laughter, with our closest friends and family – and homemade corn dogs, took place in the backyard. My husband has put in a lot of time and physical work to upgrade the space. It has been his labor of love and I appreciate his attention to detail and desire to constantly make it better. In this space, we felt we had room to grow and we chose to add to our family. We had a son and adopted three more beagles seeking forever homes. All three of our children and our pack of dogs have grown up here. My youngest child, who I rocked countless nights in his room as an infant, can now walk to Kindergarten just like his older brother and sister have in the past. My oldest daughter who grew from a child into a young woman will now come back to this home and visit from college. My teenage son who learned to ride a bike on this road will park his first car in our driveway this year. We’ve had countless parties, projects, and of course, mundane days here. All of the memories we have made and our future plans have created this attachment that I have never known, but I truly appreciate and cherish. It has given me a deeper understanding of what my buyers are hoping to achieve and also my seller’s position when it’s time to make a big leap by listing a house they may love just as much as I love my home.
Over the years as we’ve made upgrades to our home or swapped out the decor a few times, I see that none of those things have made this house feel like home. Loving a house isn’t about the physical place or the tangible objects it holds. It is the memories that come flooding through me as I walk through the hallways that give me roots and make this the first house I’ve ever loved.