My husband, Alex, and I got engaged in April of 2010. He had received his acceptance letter into the College of Law at Iowa just two days prior to popping the question. After the excitement of our engagement and acceptance into law school had started to calm down, we quickly began our search for rental houses/apartments in the Iowa City area within walking distance to the law school.
I, being the girl that I am, had a list of requirements. At the top of that list was a washer and dryer. Having spent my college dorm years packing up laundry and toting it around with me, I knew I didn’t want to spend my newlywed days doing the same thing. Does anyone know how difficult it is to find a place in Iowa City near campus with an in-unit washer and dryer?! Nearly impossible.
Alex one day stumbled upon a listing on Craigslist for a two-bedroom house close to the west side of campus. Included was a washer and dryer (!), dual car garage, a fenced-in back yard, and close to the law school. I was on a family vacation when he met with the landlord to view the house, but the way he described it sounded like heaven. I told him to sign his name on the dotted line and, just like that, it was ours.
Twenty, forty, or even sixty years from now, I hope we smile back on this chapter of our lives and say, “Remember those first years together? In that tiny little house? . . . Those days were absolutely wonderful.”
Three long 12-month leases later, here we are. Just days away from law school graduation and a couple of weeks from packing up and saying farewell to our first home. Alex will be the first to tell anyone that I haven’t loved living here. The neighborhood isn’t the best, and the house itself has caused us some headaches. I’ll give you one example:
Like most of the houses in our neighborhood, our house is essentially a living room that is attached to two hallways. One hallway contains our bedrooms and our bathroom; the other contains our kitchen and door to the garage. The refrigerator is next to the garage door. As anyone who has had a bedroom door next to a hallway door can testify, you can open one. Or you can open the other. But, you can’t open both. You can imagine the frustration when we have to turn our grocery shopping trips into two separate steps: unloading the groceries and putting the groceries into the refrigerator. If you don’t separate the steps, one of you is bringing groceries in (which shuts the refrigerator door) while the other is putting the groceries away (which shuts the door to the garage). Frustrating!
Besides that, there is no storage, and the washer is tucked away near the furnace and water heater, while the dryer is in our kitchen right next to the fridge. Who in their right mind puts a dryer in the kitchen? I struggled through three years of hauling wet laundry around the house and folding our clean clothes in the kitchen.
Oh, and last summer… THAT was an odyssey. Do you remember it being the hottest summer on record in the history of the world? Our poor wall unit AC just couldn’t keep up with the rest of the house. We spent the whole month of July sleeping on a blow-up mattress on our living room floor…I was seven months pregnant. I feel like we are constantly living in a bad episode of House Hunters.
But, none of those things can take away the one hugely important asset this house has, that no other house ever will…it was our first.
When we came home from our honeymoon, we came home to this house. We unpacked our wedding presents, decorated the walls, and learned to live together. On a whim, we hopped into our car one Saturday morning and made the drive to Sioux City to pick up our little miniature golden doodle, Theo. We brought him home here. We doted on him, taught him tricks, and potty-trained him.
I started my first job as a nurse in Iowa City and quickly discovered that a higher paying job doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. Thus, I went through my first major life crisis, quit my job, and then found a job that I absolutely loved while living within these walls. We found out we were pregnant on a cold January evening and immediately started to dream what life would be like with a baby. Nine months later, we brought our first daughter home. We spent many long nights awake soothing our new baby and establishing traditions and memories as a family of three. This house is more than just a house. It’s been our home.
As I start to get myself mentally prepared to pack, organize and clean this tiny 850 square foot house, I feel myself starting to mourn its imminent loss. This chapter of our lives has held so much. So many memories, experiences, happiness, worry, excitement, you name it. While this house has never been “ours,” it has been our first. And for that it will always be special. As we start to pack our things and move onto the next, I try to focus on the excitement that lies ahead of us. With a new home come new memories.
I’m going to playback all those memories in my head and feel them all over again, and recognize how lucky we are to have these three years, together, in this home.
But for now, I just want to sit and soak it all in for few moments longer while we are still here. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to playback all those memories in my head and feel them all over again, and recognize how lucky we are to have these three years, together, in this home.
Twenty, forty, or even sixty years from now, I hope we smile back on this chapter of our lives and say, “Remember those first years together? In that tiny little house? With the leaky sinks and the separated washer and dryer? The hot summers? The long nights? Remember those days? Those days were absolutely wonderful.”
Do you cherish any “special” memories of your first home? Please share!