A year ago today I was on pins and needles. It was less than 48 hours before we moved into the new house. I think I can safely say that EVERYONE was excited. Saying that we needed this move is an understatement. Sometimes when I’m walking through the house, the move still seems a little surreal.
Life or Death House Shopping
I began looking for a house when I learned that the landlord had listed our rental for sale without telling us. I was in the worst place possible to be house shopping; leaving a toxic job, jumping back into freelance, and still in heart failure. It’s laughable now but I was probably the last person you’d want to find you a new house.
If I didn’t find a house, I would move back to Ohio; with or without my husband. I wasn’t joking. Buying a house was do or die. Not finding a solution to our housing problem could’ve meant the end of my marriage.
Nothing I looked at felt right. The realtor and I looked at everything our income would allow. We were gambling on being able to find a house, get approved, get papers signed, move in before school started, and giving proper 30 days notice to the landlord.
Did I mention that the husband would only be home long enough to get pre-approved for the loan and to move us before heading back to his job site?
We almost didn’t get this house. As we were getting ready to send in our bid, so was someone else. We immediately raised our bid (and I do mean RAISED), but because of timezone issues we had to wait through the weekend to hear back from the listing agent as to whether or not our bid was accepted.
The housing market on the Kenai Peninsula is brutal (lots of people won’t admit to that), particularly where we are. It’s a huge tourist location and the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”. It’s also an aging community; those who are able to move here do so to retire on “the last frontier”.
One major drawback to this area is the amount of affordable housing and year round jobs. In fact, those who come to the area solely to work in the summer often camp for the entire summer season or live in their cars because of a lack of housing. if you know someone who already lives here or can grab affordable housing before the season starts, you feel like you’ve won the lottery.
Waiting to hear if the house was ours was the longest 72 hours ever.
Healed by a House; Recovering in a Home
I caution to say that buying our house last year helped us heal. No one was in a good place when we started out here three years ago (this month actually!). It quickly became apparent to me moving from that living situation was the most important thing I could do for our family. Even though I swore Alaska wouldn’t be where I stayed.
The kids were going through their own personal hell and sadness while we lived in the rental. Much of it was the shock of moving nearly five thousand miles from the only place they called home. That’s a huge jolt to anyone’s system and I now realize that recovering from it is a slow process.
Even on the days when things looked wonderful, there was still sadness, hurt, and a sense of loss living inside of us. It’s like separating and moving plants in a garden; uprooting them without caring for the roots and transplanting them to a less than perfect location can kill them.
In a way, I think we were all dying a little while we rented. We hadn’t taken the time to care for our roots before moving them. We also weren’t caring for one another as well as we could have, but what’s that saying… “put your oxygen mask on first...”? None of us were capable of doing that.
Ever since we moved in last year, I have come to feel more and more at home. I don’t dread pulling in the driveway or hate the drive to town. The dogs have a place to play and the kids have space without a landlord hovering or making unannounced visits. I love listening to the silence after everyone goes to bed. I’ve learned where the floors creak and how to tell if someone has gotten up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Looking at the moon and the stars no longer feels foreign to me. They feel familiar and welcoming again.
In May my oldest child made the trip back to Alaska with his girlfriend. It was the best and shortest week I’ve had in a long time. My face hurt so much from laughing and grinning. I could sit in my office and hear them all together in the family room downstairs; laughing, shouting, teasing one another. My heart was so full. I soaked up every moment and took absolutely nothing for granted. I’m coveting every hug I got like there’s a yarn shortage.
I know you might be saying, “That’s what happens when you get treatment for depression.” And you’re not wrong; I AM better able to see things now. Yes, getting treatment absolutely helped. However, I was getting help months before we moved. The medication was working but I still felt lost and sad and hated where I was.
Being a mom is by far the hardest thing we will ever do and it’s one of those things that you can never finish or complete. Before my son left from his visit, I gave him a house key. At first he was confused as to why. I wanted to remind him that now that’s he’s been here, seen the house, (even did a few chores with his brothers), and slept within its walls; it’s home.
No matter how far our children travel from us, they will always need a key because we are home.