I said goodbye last night. Not to a friend or family member -- though it felt like that. To my house. In many respects, I said goodbye to it 4 years ago, when I moved out and became a landlord. Not that I haven't spent a fair amount of time tending to it -- and its residents -- since then. But I emotionally divorced myself from it to a large extent and, frankly, avoided thinking about it as best I could.
I've been happy in my new home. And I spent a lot of time being unhappy in my old one. I did love it, though.
I bought that house all by myself. (Okay. the bank played a role, as well, but I was the only one who signed on the dotted line.) We moved into it when Riley was getting ready to start Kindergarten. In hindsight, the purchase of a little-bitty house with a ginormous yard at the height of the housing bubble might not have been the best choice for a single mom with a full-time job and saddled by debt. I never had enough time or money to pretty it up the way I'd have liked.
And, oh my God, the yard work. There were times when I'd end up with a dozen lawn bags at the curb. And it's not like I was good at it or knew bupkus about what I was doing. I just slogged through it as best I could. I remember a neighbor once remarking he'd never seen anyone spend as much time on their yard as me. What he left unsaid -- perhaps out of kindness -- was, "for such little return." One of the delightful features of my house was the fact that it was flanked by gargantuan oak and maple trees. Great for shade in the summer but not so great for growing grass. So mostly I mowed dust, with a little bit of grass thrown in for good measure.
Not that there wasn't plenty of maintenance needed inside the house, as well. Yours truly learned to install light fixtures, a garbage disposal and under-the-sink plumbing all courtesy of the little house that couldn't. The benefit of these adventures -- in addition to teaching me new skills -- was that they made for decent blog fodder. I'm no HGTV, but longtime readers of this blog may recall my many DIY tales.
For such a small house, it came with big responsibilities, and I'll be honest -- I wasn't always up to the task. Still, it kept Riley and me warm and safe and cozy for seven years. Then it (arguably) paid for itself by gamely serving as a rental property for three more.
But the time has come for us to part company. I can actually afford to sell it now, and I'm tired of being a landlord. So my little house will have new owners come Friday.
I've spent the last couple of months sprucing it up to sell. Had it thoroughly cleaned, put in a new water heater, had the AC and furnace serviced, put in a new sewer clean out, invested in some serious landscaping. It looks a damn sight better now than it ever did when I lived there. Yesterday afternoon, it passed reinspection by the City of Manchester, so it was all ready to go. Except for the shed.
One of the bonus features of my little house was the garden shed out in the backyard. It was fairly good-sized -- big enough to house not only the lawnmower and leaf vac, but also multiple boxes of stuff I should have thrown out years ago but never got around to. I couldn't just leave it there. But I didn't really know how best to dispose of it either. Unfortunately, during this transition time, my trash service ceased and someone (presumably the trash removal company) removed my trash cans. I picked up one of those dumpster bags from Lowe's, but then felt weird about leaving a bunch of old papers and books and stuffed animals and such out at the curb like that.
My Mom was kind enough to offer up my folks' trash cans as an option. All I'd need to do was cart the stuff a mile up the road to their house. (One of the other reasons I loved my little house -- having my folks close by while we lived there was a Godsend.) Still, I was dreading this task -- I knew all too well that mice and mold had been hard at work in that shed.
I reluctantly made the trek back over to the house last night, multiple heavy-duty garbage bags and a pair of work gloves in hand. As expected, the boxes were covered in mold and mouse droppings. The contents were the same. One by one, I removed each box from the shed, set it on the ground outside, removed the lid, and gingerly picked through the shredded contents to see if there was anything that needed to (and could) be salvaged.
One of the boxes contained old photos -- wasn't expecting that, as I thought I'd kept all of those inside with me. Most of them looked to be duplicates of ones I have elsewhere and most weren't in any condition to be saved, but I did pluck out a few of Riley as a baby and toddler which didn't look too sketchy.
There was a box of old pregnancy/motherhood books. One of old greeting cards, notes and, sadly, the collection of business cards my former co-workers and I used to write silly quotes on when we were out drinking. I contemplated separating those and attempting to copy/re-create them, but given their condition, realized I just wasn't up to the task. As it was, I had a mouse jump out of one box and scurry over my foot. I yelped loud enough I'm surprised none of the neighbors came out to see what was going on.
The last -- and saddest -- box I opened was one which had stuffed animals in it. Some were mine, though most were Riley's. "Bunniper," the large, lime green and blue bunny who'd been a mainstay of my childhood, and "Morgan," the dalmatian who'd kept me company in college and law school, were at the top. They were in sorry condition. There was no salvaging to be had from that box, though I did snap a photo of them for posterity.
It was a very Velveteen moment. I've a lump in my throat as I write this.
I removed and bagged up what I could, carted it up to my folks' house and loaded it into their trash can. While there, I snagged a Mic Ultra and returned to the house to sit on the patio and say a final goodbye.
I sipped the beer and looked out at the large yard that I used to have to tend. I don't miss that. I will miss the deer visits and the quiet mornings/evenings sitting on the deck. A little. Truth of the matter is that the mosquitos usually chased me back inside fairly quickly.
Inside, I took one last walk through. Said goodbye to my room, which doesn't look all that much like my room anymore since it's painted gray. Said goodbye to my kitchen -- which is one of the best things about that house. It's huge (relatively speaking.)
I know it sounds weird, but I thanked my little house for being a good home. It challenged me at times but it also saw me through a lot. It was a good home.
Goodbye, Little House. Thank you.