Friday, March 10, 2006

End of an Era

About seven years ago, Matt, baby John and I were driving around the country on a Sunday afternoon. It was a sunny day in late spring. As we hit the road, Matt looked at me and said, "So, what are we going to find today that we can't live without?"

We often took drives that ended up in bringing home old trucks or coveting old tractors. But that day, we found an old farmhouse.

We couldn't live without it. We were shocked, dismayed and thrilled to see we could afford it. Four months later, we were moving in. Our families helped us out, knowing that we were making the purchase of a lifetime, that we would stay and make a life there.

It is a great piece of property. The house has stained glass windows, oak floors and trim, pocket doors. It is built to catch sun in the winter and breezes in the summer. Two huge pine trees shield it from the road. It has pastures and a machinery shed, and an enormous white dairy barn.

We had plans. Then I got laid off. We went into a stage of trying to keep the house afloat -- spending all our time and extra money on maintenance, on shoring the house up against 100 years of settling and use. The people who had sold us the house were developing the land around our property, and what was once open fields around us now has three split-level monstrosities with no landscaping, and another house popped up in the corn field across the road.

John learned to walk, read and ride a bike at that house. We brought Maia home to that house. We watched the northern lights and listened to owls there. We had horses. You cannot beat that house for a lazy summer afternoon, or a Christmas dinner.

I don't want to live there anymore; I've moved my frame of reference to where we are now. I am anticipating spring here the way a tree might: full of restrained energy, reaching toward the light. But all through this moving process -- which started almost a year ago when I applied for this job -- I've felt regret for the dreams that are ending, the plans we had for that house, the promises we made to it and the memories we have of it.

We have sold that house. They're signing the papers as I post this.


  1. That house also can't be beat for having a Sunday potroast dinner on a 95 degree, humid, and still August afternoon...

    Congratulations for closing the sale! Unfortunately, this move has meant seeing you even less than we did with you just an hour away, but so it're now within earshot of Lake Superior!

    I think this was a great move. You didn't have time to fulfill all of the farmhouse dreams, but you had some great time there nonetheless. That's more than a lot of us have a chance to do. And that's pretty darn cool.

  2. Ah, the forest, the stream, the lake at your new place - life in the northland! You moved there, of course, right before we moved 4 hours away. But that just makes for more vacation destinations for all families considered! Congratulations on closing the sale.
    BTW, my word verification is 'hupankei.' Sounds like one of my daughter's imaginary family members.

  3. Houses, like stuffed animals, have emotions. The farmhouse is sad to see you go, but it's a wise old home and it realizes your life has taken you in another direction that's best for your family right now. The house gets that. (fans at weepy eyes, thinking about how hard it is to say goodbye to a house you've loved...)

  4. How's it go?



  5. Ethelred, don't think I haven't had a talk with the farmhouse.

    Amazon! :) It went awesome. We'll close on this house this week.