My Forever Home

It’s 6 years and 2 months exactly since I moved in to this house. It’s my 18th house (not counting ships – I really will have to do a post about the ships!). It’s my third forever home.

It’s a big house, I suppose – a basement, ground floor, first floor and attic, with 4 bedrooms, a double garage, a laundry room, a bathroom, a shower room and an odd space at the bottom of the cellar steps (it would be the landing if it was at the top!), where the cat lives. There are four sets of stairs/steps – three inside, and a set of steps on the outside up to the kitchen door (the house is on a slope, so what’s on ground level at the front is up the steps at the back).

I’d hoped to live here until I could no longer manage the stairs. In fact, I’d planned to live here until I could no longer drag myself to the stair lift that I’d put in when I could no longer manage the stairs.

That isn’t going to happen now.

In my head I know this. I know that I have to sell in order to buy my husband out. I will then pay off the mortgage and use my share of the capital to buy something that’s smaller and more suited to my needs and cheaper to maintain and so on and so on and so on. All very sensible.

But oh, it’s so hard. My heart hurts. This is my home. Of all the houses I’ve lived in, this is the one I love the most (although even now my head is pointing out that this is not the first house I’ve loved and wanted to stay in forever, and I will get over this in the same way I got over the others).

We did so much work to this house – it was the first renovation project I’d done where there was actually enough money available to do it properly. We bought a house that needed everything doing, and over 2-3 years we did everything. My husband was working away, so mostly it was me either doing the work or arranging to have the work done.

He was even away the day we moved in – we’d signed the paperwork on the Friday and he flew to India on the Saturday. So I organised the move, packed up the old house, picked up the keys, made endless cups of coffee for the removal guys, and Skyped with him as I walked through the front door on Day One.

And once I’d got the keys I set to and ripped up all the carpets, all the laminate flooring – and all the wood panelling that made the attic bedroom look like a sauna. I had the place rewired (a two week job!) I planned the new kitchen. I stripped wallpaper, I had walls plastered. I painted, and I shopped for curtains. I put my heart and soul into this house.

When he came back from India, he was just in time to pull out the old kitchen ready for the new one to go in. We reinstated the picture mouldings in two of the rooms, we planned the new bathroom (drawing on the old lino with a marker pen to decide where to put the bath), we gutted the laundry room and put in new units and appliances.

And finally we wallpapered, we had solid wood flooring laid, we had carpets laid. We put away our work boots, and we fluffed the cushions.

It was 2 years of solid graft. By this time my husband was working on a different contract, away all week but home at the weekends. I turned my attention to the garden. The huge (HUGE) hedge was starting to damage the retaining wall, so I arranged for it to be removed. We had the rotten decking replaced with a proper flagstoned patio. We replaced the hedge with railings. I planted climbers to give us some privacy. We had the driveway done, and the gutters repainted (not a trivial job on a 4-storey house!!).

There are two jobs still to do – the front path needs re-laying, and I’ve never liked the front door. It made sense to do both together, and I’d intended to get it done this summer. But, well, the best laid plans…

So why have I been OK moving 18 times, but I’m struggling with the idea of leaving this house? It’s not entirely to do with the amount of work I’ve put in – I’ve renovated other houses in the past.

I think it’s mostly to do with the fact that previous house moves were improvements – we were moving to a better job, or a bigger house, or a nicer area. This move will be in the other direction – downsizing . The end of the dream. Even though, really, the dream ended five months ago.

I’m not ready to wake up just yet.

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