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On Homes and Healing

Or When One Door Closes, Another Really Does Open

(An Old Key and a New)

I lived in my previous house for almost ten years exactly. As I was reminded of in the midst of buying our new house, I closed on the little 1000 square foot house in Austin on April 30th 2011. My husband and I will close on the sale of that house this week ten years and a few months later.

There’s an odd feeling to this move. The house wasn’t working for us anymore between the size – which was fine when I bought it and it was just me and a couple of dogs and a cat – and the location – still somewhat small town when I moved but now so close to the “second downtown” of the Domain that it just hasn’t felt welcoming in years. (And there was of course the whole assault thing last year and a random drunk who tried to break our front door down a few months ago which haven’t helped the lack of a ‘welcome’ to say the least). So it was time to move on. Perhaps even more than time considering we’d talked about moving for years but just kept talking ourselves out of it over the price or the aggravation of buying a new place or or or or…

Honestly, we ended up getting a realtor and finding our new place almost by accident. And if things hadn’t lined up EXACTLY as they did, we might still be living in the old place, waiting impatiently to get contractors scheduled to do the work on it we’ve been saving up to do for years and tripping over each other and the dogs as we tried to navigate the small square footage and odd layout that we’ve just been dealing with since he moved in eight years ago.

And y’all, I LOVE our new place. It’s 2000 square feet on two freaking acres of woodland with a massive deck and a storage shed and place for my husband to build his shop and a dedicated office for me and a bathroom WE CAN BOTH STAND IN AT THE SAME TIME and and and… It’s pretty damned perfect for us and the family we’ve been trying to build, is what I’m saying. I’m thrilled we’ve finally moved in, and while things will be in flux for a while as we get floors replaced so we can set up all our furniture and get boxes unpacked, it already feels like a home, you know?

And yet.

It’s not that I miss living at the house at Irongate exactly. It’s more a sense of nostalgia, I think. I lived there longer than any other place in my life, and it was, above all else, MINE. I bought it with my own money, all by myself (granted with the privilege of a college fund for the down payment that I’d been lucky enough not to use because I tested out of credits and got a small scholarship), without anyone there holding my hand while I did it. And it’s hard to explain just why that matters so much, but I’m going to try.

In 2007, I finally managed to get away from the abuser I dated in college. He proceeded to stalk me, both in person occasionally until I moved cities without him knowing, and via the internet for a couple years. He’d worked very, VERY hard to convince me – as so many abusers do – that I was hopeless without him, doomed to fail, unlovable by anyone but him. How would I ever survive without him to tell me what to do, how to live? I couldn’t even open my own jars and bottles – thank you chronic pain – how did I think I could be alone?

And he was absolutely certain that I would be alone if I didn’t stay with him.

But still, I left him in 2007. And without him, I found one job, then another. I moved to a new city where I knew very few folks and found my own apartment, then a second. And then, what felt like the biggest step of all, the ultimate “fuck you” to his voice as it still existed in the back of my head, I bought a house. A cute house, too. It was little, like I said, but it was a home for me and the dog that ex had hated and abused just as much if not more than he abused me. I made it comfortable with decorations that made me happy, no matter what anyone else might think of them.

In time I got a roommate, then another, and later, I met the man that would become my husband. We fell in love in that house. Got engaged, got married, and started building the life we both wanted together in that house.

That house was good to me, good to us both. We’ve just… Well, we’ve finally outgrown it, literally and figuratively. And there’s something so bittersweet about finally moving on and letting it go.

I don’t want it back, not really. Not when our new place will give us so much more room to grown. To hopefully add to the family we’ve built with each other.

But I’m always going to think about that little house as the first place I started to be me, without anyone trying to force me to be anyone else. I proved to myself with that house that I didn’t NEED anyone. I was enough for me, and that, more than anything else, started the healing process I was missing after the two years in my ex’s clutches.

It built me up the way I built myself a home there, and I will always be grateful.

Time to see what we can build in this new home. I like to think that little house is happy for me.


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