Bill and I were leaving the first house we bought together. I thought saying goodbye to the house would be different than the apartments I left in the past. I thought I would have more pangs of conscience. I thought I would miss the space, the light, and the backyard menagerie that entertained me daily. It turned out that I was so busy in the final days at the house, I only thought about it sporadically.
I like to believe that when you purchase property, you simply agree to be the custodian of that property. We had already moved so many of our belongings out of the house, it no longer felt like our property. What it felt like was the place we were preparing for the next custodians.
To me, the idea is to leave a place better than you found it. To be honest, the custodians before us, the family that built the home in 1986, did a splendid job in building a solid structure with wonderful flow. They sold us the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Most of what we did to the house during our tenure seemed simple and cosmetic: paint, a kitchen renovation, bathroom renovations, closet upgrades and new garage cabinets. We added a bay window to the formal living room and an exercise room to the basement. We even changed the way the heating system functioned. One of our last projects was to replace the roof. We thought we would live under that roof for a few more years, but we moved within a year instead.
We had additional projects in mind, but they were small, and the next owner might choose to tackle them differently than we would. In spite of all that we invested in the house, the time, the money, the energy, and the love, we knew it was time to leave.
Saying goodbye to the house was not hard. But we didn’t build the house, raise a family there, or inherit a relative’s devotion to it. We chose it because we liked it. We bought it because it was in a neighborhood that was beautiful and quiet and located near to where we worked.
What was hard was saying goodbye to the neighbors. They were lovely people. They looked out for one another without being overly invasive. They kept an eye on each others’ kids. They invited us to their homes, waved and chatted with us on the street, and now came by to say how much they’d miss us as neighbors.
I know we will remain in touch with some of them, but nothing can replace the day-to-day closeness of neighbors. Once you move out of the neighborhood, you can come back to visit, but it doesn’t feel the same. It’s their neighborhood now, not ours.
On the other hand, a new neighborhood brings fresh friendships, new experiences, and reinvigoration. We were ready for that. Almost.
This blog post is part of a series called Downsizing. It is the chronicle of moving from a 2475 square foot home to one approximately half its size during the first six months of 2016. It takes place in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.