Home.

And just like that, it’s over.

Nearly three years ago, I bought my first home. I am still here, in the place with the red door that I walked through that July with boxes overstuffed with books and art supplies, plastic tubs of clothes and a Fiddle Leaf fig tree with only one sad leaf. I did it, I told myself in those first days. I paid for it with just a few bits of savings that I didn’t know could really get me anything. I was terrified to do this solo, yet oh-so-excited. It was nothing too fancy, just 900-square-feet of condo space to be quiet, to unpack, to unfold me – a place I had prayed for, for a long, long time.

I covered the walls in a few coats of paint, thanks to friends willing to stand on a 16-foot ladder to reach to the top of the vaulted ceiling that has come to be one of my favorite things. I braved the spiders outside – mostly their thick, dirty webs – housed in the old tiki covering on the balcony – by myself. It was a real girl power, “I can do anything you can do” moment. One of those moments where you’re not sure if the next thing to do is take a Rosie-the-Riveter-inspired selfie or cry in the shower or both (likely both). Those moments happened. Sometimes more than I wanted. Like when the roof leaked and I did my own not-so-perfect patch-and-repair job. Or when $30 worth of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cabinet-scrubbing only led to me needing to repaint them entirely. It happens.

I spent a lot of time tinkering. Filling shelves. Emptying shelves. Filling them again with new treasures. Pinterest was the culprit many times. Like the time (or few times) I uncorked a bottle of wine at 10:30 at night and let YouTube guide me in the mastering of mint-green chalk paint. I dragged a dresser into my dining room and went about brushing coats of paint across every crevice. (Later learning that you must seal chalk paint or it will chip away and you will obsess over those chipped spots for at least 15 months). There were lots of lessons learned.

In this home, there were also lots of candles burned. Soups made. Cauliflower-crust pizzas constructed. Gallons of coffee – hot and iced and cold brewed – consumed. Nieces and nephews painted succulent pots on the kitchen table that a woodworker friend crafted. Laundry was often left in the washer too long. So much chatter happened between girls curled up on the couch. Tears were plenty – but just as often happy as they were sad. Leaves on plants grew just as wild as my love for them did. Countless Netflix, Hulu and Prime shows were binged (hello, Stranger Things and Downtown Abby, to name two of a million). Fourth of July fireworks over the lake were watched from my stoop.

In this neighborhood, I often walked to the lake, making sure to Snapchat every sunrise and sunset. I walked to the Thai place with the amazing coconut milk soup that, for three years, has been my elixir for every sore throat and dreary day. And I have on more than one occasion walked home from the piano lounge across the street after a shared bottle – er, let’s be honest, bottles – of Audelyn Wine.

I loved –  do love – my home. Still, like every great romance, there were times that I found it hard to connect. I didn’t always give my home the quality time it required. I spent – do spend – a lot of time with friends, in their own homes, binging shows on their couches, making dinner in their kitchens. I’ve wondering if I’ve doing home-ownership wrong. But now, I don’t think so. Connecting and sharing time, space and a meal with people that I love is one of my favorite things. I decided to allow myself that.

That, though, does afford some sacrifice. My own groceries often spoil before I’m home to eat them them (I’ve had to stop buying riced cauliflower; if you miss expiration by one day, one swift swing of the fridge door will fill the house with a fowl stench). My laundry sometimes piles up more than I’d like. And if I’m balancing a heavy load at work, along with relationships, home is sometimes only a place where I crawl into an unmade bed for a few hours. And that’s ok. It’s always been a soft spot to land, a place that embraces me as I need it. It’s forgiving.

It’s home.

But just like that, here we are. At the end.

I put my home on the market this month.

The other day, a photographer dissected my home with a wide-angle lens. My home – with its weird, eclectic-ness that mimics my brain – is on the internet, gaining more and more clicks every day. Everyone can see the fridge I wallpapered with Instagram photographs circa 2016. My crazy plant lady room. The not-so-perfect gallery walls. Stacks of books and journals. The little spot on the wall dedicated to a dear friend and the art she created before the melanoma took her. It’s all right there in plain sight. I’m told this home feels comfortable and warm and is filled with love. And that’s true, that’s all intentional. Still, it’s been unexpectedly vulnerable for me, in an odd way that the girl who blogged her life for a decade feels a little … exposed.

Three years ago, I was terrified to commit to this space. What if my bank account doesn’t agree with my decision? What if a pipe decides it wants to burst and flood every room? What if a tree blows over and crashes through my bedroom? Or what if the tenants I inherited for a few days get angry and rip out every single door, cabinet, pipe and fixture just because they’re upset I’m moving in to their man cave and filling it with candles and plants? (That really was a valid concern).

Those feels and fears are back again, but only in faint whispers this time. And this time, there’s excitement in the movement, in knowing there’s some momentum. There’s peace in the prayers – in smart planning, too. It does help that I have a miracle worker of a realtor/life planner/financial planner/friend. You have to hold my hand, I told her. Can you explain the big picture again, I’ve had to ask. And she does.

That. That makes all the difference.

Now, we have our eyes open for the next thing. My next home. One to fill with plants and art and dear friends. I don’t know where or what it will be just yet, but we’re close. And as bittersweet as it is to let go of this first home of mine, I know that next one and all of the others to follow are more adventures waiting, more chances to grow and more opportunities to create home.

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