The perfect metaphor…
I chose to buy this particular old house because I sensed it had ‘good bones’ and needed a little love to reach its full potential. Some tried to talk me out of it, but I was sure it was the one for me. I saw what it actually was at its foundation, a beautiful warm family home, loaded with charm and character. “I’ll be the person who’ll restore this sad house to its former glory and return it to its original happy luster,” I thought. So that’s what I set out to do. The one thing I know about myself is that I’ve always had an abundance of love and energy to give – an endless supply. I was motivated by a very deep, sub-conscious, sense of purpose, but mostly, I’d say, I was motivated by love.
The years following the purchase were not easy. The house was uncooperative, resistant, if you will, and often gave me a hard time when attempting to tame it. One thing led to another, the pipes, the roof, the furnace, the septic, the electric wiring, the well, the water heaters, the shingles, etc. On and on… These were core issues that needed to be addressed in order to have any quality of life. It had been badly neglected. We added on, put a foundation under the guest cottage, and had a utility easement moved. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for this house. And then there was the issue of undoing what the former owners had done – they had robbed this house of its dignity. Their bad taste and poor choices made the house dark and depressing. What they did to it was criminal, from my point of view – they didn’t enhance its natural style but covered it, stifled it and shamed it into submission. I knew this house was light, bright and happy at its foundation. I just knew it.
It would take years for me to excavate, so much hard work, time, energy and huge monetary investments – but it was worth it. Yes, there was worry, anxiety and sometimes tears, as I struggled to make things right.
Slowly and lovingly the house and property were restored. Flowers bloomed where there once were none, trees and branches were cut to let the sun in. Aesthetically it was beautiful, but more importantly it had undergone a complete over-haul and now had new working parts. It felt easy and effortless to live in the house. Our family thrived. Every person who walked through the door would comment about the happy vibe. One friend even said, “Your house makes me want to dance!” (No, she wasn’t drunk…) Even the delivery men would feel prompted to comment. The house finally had integrity and you could feel it!
Still, all those years of breaking parts and small home disasters had taken a toll on me. It was hard for me to let go of the feeling that something would go wrong when I wasn’t there… a flood, a power outage? And occasionally my fears were reinforced with unexpected home issues. I was tired. The house would never be without problems. It was old and it had a past history of neglect. This house would require a watchful eye, there was a need to stay one step ahead of maintenance.
One day, when I was rearranging my garden and digging up plants, I came across a hydrangea which, despite my best shoveling efforts, would not be uprooted. I pulled and pulled and hacked away at the roots, but they must have been bigger and deeper than I thought. In the process, I injured my back. It occurred to me, while I was digging, that leaving this house one day might be equally as difficult as removing this clinging plant. Through the years I had rooted myself to this life, my family, this house, this land. It would take something major to loosen my grip. …and something finally did.
*Recently, I was able to cancel the real estate contract (I had a 24 hour window to do this) that would have released me from this house. I canceled in a panic, because without the house, I would have had nothing in my name. So now I start again, alone, in an empty house, my energy drained, still semi-rooted. Time to ponder…
Once other issues are resolved, and I have everything I need to move forward, I’ll say goodbye to my beautiful, old home. I’ll walk away feeling lighter, knowing that I made a difference, knowing that I loved it with every ounce of my being — that’s something I’ll never regret.