I am sitting at my kitchen table as I write, surrounded on all sides by boxes and boxes full of the stuff that fills my house. We have been in full-blown packing mode for at least two weeks now, and yet there still appears to be no end in sight. But moving day is next week, so we continue to pack and purge and sort.
While Tsh is selling her first home, we just bought our first home. Even typing those words and seeing them in print still seems strange to me. I’m 37 years old, and most of my friends bought their first homes long ago. Some have even moved on to their second home by now.
But for various reasons, we’ve been on a slightly different track for a long time. Home ownership was always sort of a vague, fuzzy possibility out on the horizon. I hoped for it, even longed for it, yet feared it.
I want to travel, live free, reject the consumerism of the American dream. But I also want a place for my family to put down roots, to offer hospitality, and to grow and thrive. It’s been an inner conflict for many years.
Eventually, we realized that for us, it’s possible to have both. And it’s okay to want both. We can strive to find a way to live in the middle, with self-awareness and wisdom.
Of course, there were also financial considerations. Austin, Texas, is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. It’s definitely a seller’s market here, and anyone that wants to buy in the center of the city is going to pay out the nose for it. We didn’t want to go to the suburbs – we love central Austin – but we feared that was our only option.
Simple living doesn’t always feel so simple. How can we live within our means, in a way that is non-extravagant, and doesn’t require us to spend hours commuting…somewhere we might even be able to walk and ride bikes to schools and parks and libraries? Is it even possible?
And then we found our house.
Not so close in, but not too far out. Walking distance to the elementary school, a fabulous park a few blocks away, a great big backyard for my girls to play. It feels like an amazing gift.
It’s not a large house by most middle-class American standards – just 1300 square feet. But we’ve been living in a 950 square foot, 2/1 duplex for the past eight years. Even though I’ve certainly longed for more space, we’ve gotten used to being cozy together.
When we were house-hunting, we looked at many larger homes out in the suburbs, but every time I tried to imagine our family living in a house like that, with so much room to spread out, I suspected it would feel a little too lonely for us.
And just the other day, my suspicions were confirmed when my older daughter, age seven, expressed a little bit of fear about her bedroom being “so far away” from us in the new house. Granted, we will be on the other side of the living room – a whole 15 feet away – instead of right next door.
Honestly, we are thrilled about our new house – and so grateful. Now we face the packing. The amount of stuff we own has definitely accumulated, despite regular trips to Goodwill and at least three major purges over the years.
We’ve gone from a couple of DINKS to a family of four during the time we’ve lived in this little duplex, and it will be a bit bittersweet to say good-bye. So many memories were made here. But the truth is that memories aren’t held in four walls, but in our hearts, and people are what make up a home. So, we’re ready for the next chapter, and we can’t wait to see everything the future holds.