It was our dream house. 3000 square feet, five bedrooms, a giant pool, quiet neighborhood. The perfect place to raise a family and grow old together. And in August 2004, it became our dream home.
But things changed. Life happened. We grew apart and what seemed like a perfect home was revealed to be cracked and flawed, ready to break into pieces.
On January 26th, 2010, my 33rd birthday, I moved out, and for more than a year, Amy remained, alone with our dog, trying to reshape the house that we both loved into something that had no resonance to the past. In 2011, she moved to Austin, and we put the house on the market, where it sat untouched. Like many homes, ours was under water, which wasn’t a problem when we were going to grow old there, but presented quite an obstacle to our new plan of growing old separately.
After convincing the banks to accept a short sale, a plan that involved not paying the mortgage for three months straight, the house was back on the market. Potential buyers began immediately showing interest, and on December 2nd, 2011, I signed the closing papers, alone in the realtor’s office, feeling a sense of relief colored with grey sadness.
Cut to last week. Thanks to my little brother accidentally sending a package to the wrong address, I found myself in the unfortunate position of needing to return to the place where everything ended. With great trepidation (a phrase that I normally consider trite but was, for once, entirely appropriate), I walked up to the door (my old door), completely unprepared and unwilling to face the new occupants. I rang the doorbell (my old doorbell) and felt my palms sweat against my pants as a shadow grew visible through the beveled glass (my old beveled glass).
A man in his mid twenties opened up the door with a smile on his face. “Hi,” I said, “I’m Adam Avitable . . . ”
“Mr. Avitable!” He literally beamed. “You must be here about that package we got. My wife was about to bring it back to UPS and get them to call you about it because we figured it was important. Come on in! Let me introduce you to the family and see what we’ve done!”
I spent the next twenty minutes meeting his wife, their two children (with a third on the way), and her father, while being taken on a tour of their new dream home. In enthusiastic spurts, the new owner told me about his plans for the house and how ecstatic they were to own their very first home. I saw my office turned into a bright, polka-dotted room for his oldest daughter, our guest room transformed into a baby’s playroom, and our game room reverted back into the family room it was meant to be. I saw a family, happy, content, excited – filling my former home with warmth and color and love.
We talked about how nice the neighbors are and he told me that he’d heard about the legendary parties I would throw. “I told Mr. Merrill, though, that I’m not much of a partier. Not anymore.” And with one casual gesture towards his wife and daughters, I knew. This house was meant for this family. It may have been my home at one point, but now, it truly and completely belonged to them.
It’s funny, but not in a ha-ha way – more like in a wry “The More You Know” NBC PSA way. Sometimes we don’t know that we need closure about something until it happens. But when that happens, it just feels right. And as I closed the door (their door) to the house (their home) and walked to my car, everything felt right.