On Loving and Leaving Our First Home

In the two years it took to renovate and restore our 60-year-old cottage by the side of the road, my husband and I welcomed two children. We pored over details, from the doorknobs to the railing on the stairs. I spent countless nights nursing a newborn while trying to decide between different shades of white for the trimwork and second-guessing every single thing the moment my babies and I stepped foot in the hardware store.

It was a trying time and it put a strain on so much, but we all pressed forward because we believed wholeheartedly that while the process was strenuous, the end result would be more than worth it. We pictured raising our family here and putting down roots. We added just enough bedrooms and bathrooms to the place to accommodate a growing brood and we even finished off the creepy cement-floored basement with the decades old shower collecting dust in the corner, just so we could turn it into a sweet family room complete with the requisite pool table. We worked with professionals like the ones from this company to remove and abate any existing mold and asbestos from the property, making it fit for our family to live here for the next 50 years.

We moved in on Labor Day weekend in 2015. This Labor Day, we’ll likely be making preparations to sell.

We’re in the process of finalizing plans to buy another older home and start the whole thing over again, only this time on family land. The property sits far off the road and is surrounded by cornfields on every side. It’s all we ever dreamed of, but it’s not home, at least not yet. I haven’t had the opportunity to sink my hands into it and make my mark on it. I haven’t spent hours working in the yard and I haven’t planted a single flower on the property.

Over here, on the other hand, there isn’t a square inch of this space that doesn’t hold my heart, my memories and my heart. On my 30th birthday last year, I asked only that my family give me camillas. I got five and planted them behind the old white rocker that sits on the side porch. I’ve planted four knockout rose bushes, one towering hibiscus that surprises me every summer, three hydrangeas, too many potted plants to count and a window box that I rotate with the seasons.

We plant a big garden every year and in late July, we harvest gallons upon gallons of fresh blueberries from the bushes out back. We also make muscadine juice from the grapevine’s bounty and last Christmas, everyone got pecans from our tree. It’s the same tree where our daughter’s rope swing is perched.

This little space on the side of the road isn’t much. Most of our friends have long left their starter homes and moved into sprawling country houses. That’s the thing about coming back to put down roots in a small town. If you go off to college in a big city and see all the excitement and entertainment that it has to offer, then you still decide to return to your hometown, it’s because you likely have family land, lots and lots of acres of it.

Your mama and daddy may have inherited it themselves from their parents. Either they farm it or they let someone local take care of it, relieving themselves of the legwork while providing a bounty for their neighbor. We didn’t think we’d ever be in that position until now. It’s one that so many in our community would love to be in, and we feel blessed to have two great options at our fingertips. We don’t know exactly which one we’ll end up pursuing, but to leave this place is to close an incredibly sweet and gorgeous chapter of our lives. It holds our beginning, our catalyst. It’s where we stayed up late, tucked in babies, worked at the kitchen counter, and sunk our hands into the warm earth. It’s where we dared to dream really, really big. Maybe this next place is where we get to live those out.

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