WE BOUGHT A HOUSE.
There are some moments in your life that feel like they complete a circle. Nearly six years ago, when I started this blog, my life didn’t have a solid grounding (geographically speaking, mostly). The only pattern was that there was no pattern; I moved from LA to Maryland for college, then to France, then to DC, then to Egypt, then back to DC, with multiple address at these stops along the way. I started this blog as I was getting ready to head to Thailand on a one way ticket, three weeks after getting married. There might have been an agenda, but there was no plan.
We’ve moved what feels like dozens of times since then (in reality, I think we’ve lived at five addresses in the last five years, although there were a few periods of migration in there were we didn’t have a firm address). When we came to Chicago last year, I vowed I was never.moving. again. Not until we bought a house.
We fell head over heels in love with Chicago. Even in the winter. It felt like we’d found that intangible sense of home that we’d been looking for the whole time. In January we started looking for houses, and in February we had an offer accepted on a house in Rogers Park (spoiler alert: that is not the house I am writing this post from). After our offer was accepted, we slogged through six months of short sale hell – battles with the seller’s bank, endless waiting for responses, mountains of FHA paperwork so we could get money to fix up the place (the guy living there had neglected to do any maintenance…ever). In the end, the seller’s bank let their own internal deadline for something expire, without telling anyone and before the deadline they had told us, and we decided it was the universe telling us to move on. It was a bit heartbreaking after so much time and money spent in the process, but ended up being a blessing in disguise.
I started trolling realty sites again, and happened on a two flat in the Avondale neighborhood. That Saturday we decided to drive by it, just to see the neighborhood and check out a few other places in the area that we’d seen online. When we got out of the car, we both knew this checked all the boxes. However, before we were able to even ask our realtor about it, it went off the market.
A few weeks later, it popped back up on the market again. We asked our relator to set up a viewing for the next day, and before we knew it we were buying the place! This time the whole process went much more smoothly, and we closed on the last day of August.
It took us two days and THREE truckloads to get everything moved – one for the house, and two for Kyle’s shop. We’ve been slowly settling in, although we still haven’t hung anything on the walls. For the first two weeks we were here, the previous owner was living in the first floor unit. It turned out to be so much fun getting to know her and learning about her 45 years in this house. Bing was having a party with her friends and family the night we moved in and she invited us to join them, but we were just too tired – so she brought us a platter of homemade filipino food and a bottle of wine. She is generous, funny and kind, and I hope we have as many wonderful years in this house as she did.
Once Bing left, we started full swing renovations on the downstairs unit. We had originally thought we’d just need to paint and spruce it up, but in reality the bathroom needed to be gutted and a few walls needed to have the plaster removed and redone. Once we got everything ripped out, in perhaps the worst timing ever, Kyle was sent to North Carolina to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Florence. So while he’s gone, I’m getting everything but the bathroom finished up. We’re having the HVAC system replaced next week, and then when he gets back we’ll finish everything up before our new tenants (!) move in.
It’s been a whirlwind, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but there’s a weird internal relief that comes with knowing we own a house. Our rent will never go up. If we want to paint a wall, or knock down a wall for that matter, we don’t have to ask anyone’s opinion or permission. Kyle can make a mess in his shop, I can make a mess in the garden, and we’re the only ones who can say anything about it. We can move away, rent out our unit, and still have a place to come home to. To call home.
And that is just the best feeling in the world.