An Ode To Our (Former) Home

Note: This post is LONG, but, our former home deserves it.

I still remember the day that we first visited 2225 Valley View Drive. The house had been on the market for less than 24 hours and there were 5+ showings scheduled on a Saturday morning. The listing was exactly what we were looking for: Beautiful private setting all on 6.3 acre wooded lot. Private Rd off of Valley Road in Marysville, Rye Township. 3 bedroom, 2 full bath. Camp cod w/large room, breeezeway and 3 car garage. Geothermal heat pump. Stone wood burning fireplace. Potential for a wood stove in the full unfinished basement. Personalize this home…Bring your paint brush.

When we arrived on Saturday morning, we found a house that had at-one-time-white carpet in the bathrooms, wallpaper that was in various states of being peeled from the walls in every single room, indoor / outdoor carpeting in the living room, a semi-truck trailer parked beside the house – completely packed full, and a garage that was packed – floor to ceiling – with brown cardboard boxes. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say the previous owners were hoarders. But, there was potential. Especially since Josh has plenty of construction experience and I’m an unskilled, but enthusiastic, helper.

We immediately put in an offer and waited anxiously until we got a phone call from our agent. “The seller got multiple offers. Some were higher than yours, but, your offer has been accepted. Congratulations!” We closed on our purchase of our home on Friday, 6/29/2012.

We immediately began dreaming of renovating ideas. And then we worked, for the next 7 years, to turn those dreams into reality. To transform the tired, neglected house into a warm, cozy home that we loved to spend time in. We worked together, Josh leading the way and doling out instructions, to make it “ours” and despite the late nights and seemingly never-ending projects, we finished it, together. I learned alot. Josh cussed alot. But, we did it. And laughed ALOT along the way!

In this house, we observed the wildlife living around us like we were in a National Geographic documentary. From our house, we watched herds of deer just outside our front door, grazing on the acorns that were falling from the tall trees in the fall. We watched as two buck locked antlers and fought during rut, just outside our living room windows on a lazy Saturday morning. We made friends with a little deer, still wearing his spots, as he ventured out of the woods and allowed us to pet him. We watched in awe when a mama bear and her two cubs found themselves run up a tree when our dog got a little too friendly. We stopped and waited patiently as turkey trotted proudly across our driveway, chattering among themselves. We listened as coyotes howled and fisher cats screamed in the pitch-black, nighttime darkness. We watched as hawks flew overhead and screeched, sending the squirrels running for quiet cover. We evicted a three-toed skink from our bathroom at 6am using a paper plate and we saved box turtles from being victims of moving, wheeled objects. At times, we felt almost overrun by the families of opossums and raccoons that called our property their home, too. We rescued tiny, bug-covered kittens from the middle of our private road, where they had been discarded by their owner, watched as they were nursed back to life and found them a loving home. We appreciated the incessant tap-tap-tapping of the red-bellied woodpeckers and we listened as the woods came alive with the happy songs of so many different birds in the springtime. We became familiar with the bark of our neighbor, who we assume was affectionately named “No, No, Bad Dog.” We kept the hummingbird feeder outside our kitchen full of sugar water every spring, summer and fall and watched as the tiny, fluttering birds fought over who got to eat next.

After 6 short months of living in this house, our first “together” dog, Ramrod, made this house his home, on 12/21/2012. We brought him to a home in the woods after he was found running free in the City of Lancaster. We watched as he got comfortable being a woodland creature and grew to love having 6 acres to roam about freely. We spoiled him into being an only dog with a severe biscuit obsession, never having to be on a leash and having free roam of the house while we weren’t home after he professed his hatred for being crated.

This house was our sought-after hub for hosting gatherings with our friends and family. A housewarming party in the beautiful outdoors, Christmas Eve parties cozy by the fireplace, birthday dinners to celebrate another trip around the sun and a company picnic for Josh’s company. Having a property that supported inviting our friends and family into our home to share in love, laughter and cocktails filled our hearts. No matter the occasion, there was always plenty of room.

At this house, we got married in our backyard on a beautiful June afternoon, surrounded by friends and family. It was in this house that we spent hours talking about hopes and dreams and goals for our future together. It was in this house that we supported each other, encouraged each other and became each other’s best friend. It was in this house that we celebrated 6 years of wedding anniversaries.

This house was our home base for building and achieving goals together. We made lists of pros and cons and we supported each other as we took risks, knowing that whatever the outcome may be, everything would be just fine. Josh supported me as I made job changes to follow my heart and not money. We started started scuba diving together and Josh fell in love with the hobby-turned-profession. It was in this house that we hatched our five year plan and walked through our plan, silently but together, to turn our far-fetched dream into reality in just 4 years.

This house was our home base. The place that we went, after long days and weeks at work, and could finally breathe. It was quiet. It was peaceful. And it allowed us to escape the chaos, confusion and noise of the world. The internet was slow, the power went out often and we didn’t get food delivery service, but, we grew to love those aspects, too. Our group of neighbors were good people and always willing to lend a hand. Our property kept us busy and was the perfect place to work on our homesteading skills. The air smelled different there…clean, light and woodsy. Most weekends, we couldn’t wait to get home after a long week at work, excited at the idea that we wouldn’t have to leave the house again until Monday morning.

In this house, we made some not-so-pleasant memories, too. We were sleeping when I awoke to the sound of our back door closing after midnight in October 2015. That night, our home was burglarized and our truck stolen from our driveway, just feet away from where we lay asleep. That night, I hid in a closet, for over an hour, waiting for the police to respond to my call for help when we didn’t know if strangers were lurking through our home. In May 2017, a tornado touched down on our property, uprooting mature trees and sending them through the roof and second floor of our house while we were at work. I was the lucky one to come home and find the destruction. The cleanup and repair process took 9 months and cost us over $7,000, despite having “great” homeowner’s insurance.

We filled this house to its seams with “stuff” and dreams, hopes and love. And, then, we emptied it out, preparing, hand in hand, to embark on a new adventure together. To forego a land-based home for a smaller, floating one. To give up the 30-year mortgage for a debt-free existence in which we don’t owe a single cent to anyone. To explore, to learn and to love, together.

Walking away from our home the night before we handed the keys to someone else felt surreal. For the last 8 years, this place has been my safe haven. But, in that moment of leaving…all of our stuff loaded into our vehicles, standing in the driveway staring at a house that would no longer be ours…I realized that home wasn’t just that building before me. Home is anywhere, as long as we’re together. Home is love. And while we filled this building up with love, we’ll have no problem filling up anywhere we go together with love.

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