Selling Our Home of 24 Years – Part One

I know this place.

For twenty-four years we’ve lived here. I arrived, almost thirty years old with my one-year-old baby girl in my arms. I had fought moving to this suburban community for two years, but my husband was right – it was the perfect place to raise a family. So that’s what we did. We bought our starter home. We raised our family.

Twenty-four years later, we’re selling the starter home and looking for our next, and presumably forever home.

There isn’t a surface in this house that hasn’t been changed since we moved in. Every doorknob, every window, every closet and drawer and faucet and floor – it’s all been redone. We’ve added square footage, a pool, a front lawn and sliding glass doors. We’ve remodeled the kitchen, both bathrooms, smoothed the popcorn ceilings, painted, wallpapered, painted again. We’ve taken out trees and added new landscaping. We’ve hung photos and artwork, chandeliers and built-ins.  We’ve bought furniture and sheets and towels and pots and pans and wooden spoons.

The exterior has been at least five different colors, perhaps more.

We brought our baby boy here – home –  when he was born. We had uncountable family gatherings, grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. My father lived here for a while. My brother-in-law came, every week for two nights, for six years, to stay in our grown daughter’s room. My mother was here for five weeks after knee surgery. We welcomed anyone who needed a place to stay, including our son’s half-dozen closest friends in high school, one or two or more nearly every weekend. We had birthday parties, team parties, pre-game dinners, pool parties, a wedding, a memorial service, all in 2100 square feet, over twenty-four years. We celebrated, we laughed so much, we sang, we danced, we drank, we ate – bagels and danish and meatloaf and Greek chicken, matzo ball soup and brisket and turkey and noodle kugel, Caesar salad and cut up apples and carrots and dip. And brownies. Thousands of brownies, baked from scratch, devoured by hungry children and “I really shouldn’t” adults.

There have been countless naps on sofas, on beds, in chairs.

We cried. We didn’t make the team, or failed a test. Our friends were mean, our hearts got broken. We mourned people we loved, together and in solitude. We fought, we yelled, we demanded, criticized, hurt each other’s feelings. We were deeply disappointed or infuriated. We were just sad.

All of this, every moment, is in these walls, in the view out the window, in the color of the bougainvillea, the big palm leaves that fall from the tree in the front yard when they die. It’s deep in the closets, buried in a box or a drawer, waiting to surprise me as I sort and toss and prepare for eventually leaving this place. It’s around the dining room table, which I’ve set and fussed about with crystal and china, tablecloths and linen napkins and my grandmother’s sterling, for seders and Thanksgiving, dinner parties with friends when we sat for hours, talking and talking.

It was in the quiet of a weekday morning, the kids at school, a book in my lap, happy. This was what I always wanted, this place, these people, this life.

But now it’s time to go. There are moments when I feel an overwhelming sadness here, surrounded by memories of days that made up the years of my life that are over now. I miss it all so much sometimes  – even as I enjoy this time, these quieter and calmer days, my husband and me and our dog, a different kind of wonderful.

It’s time to go. But I could never leave this place behind. It’s in me, in my bones, as much a part of me as my DNA. It is me…or it was. But it’s time.

to be continued...

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43 Comments

  • Shari Botts

    We are doing exactly the same thing! Just signed a contract last week. I can’t wait to read Part 2!!!!

  • Sharon, very best of luck to you as you move into another wonderful place for more dinners, and laughter, and love and family. Memories are transportable. Just make sure that Lambeau is happy with his new space! xo

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    You have described how I feel about my house so perfectly. We’ve been here 18 years. Not ready to move yet, but someday. Wishing you an easy sale and much happiness in your next abode, Sharon!

  • This brought smiles and tears, Sharon…..you’ve captured the little moments…fights, new doorknobs….as well as the big ones…new baby, family upheavals. I know exactly how you feel; you will cry as you drive a way. But the home is indeed in your bones as well as your heart. Tuck this post, or a handwritten love note into a drawer for the new owners as you lock up and leave. I did that 6 times and always had a response thanking me for a home well loved and cared for. Circle of life for a house too. Beautiful post, my friend!

  • Speaking from experience it is a scary process but once it’s over you will be happier in your new space that suits the “you” of today and the memories of the past will come right along with you..

  • Oh this is sweet and sad, happy and rich. ….as memories tend to be, I suppose. Wishing you many more of the same but different in your new home.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      Thanks – we are looking forward to the next adventure and creating a new home for us and our extended family.

  • This is just beautiful Sharon. Thank you!

  • chris odonnell

    We’re doing almost, the same thing.. 30 years here, and we’re looking at a “temporary” move. Completely across the country.

    BUT we’ll be back!! so we’re planning on renting. but we’re stilling having to purge, clean etc. Goodwill is loving us!

    New location, new house, new adventure!

  • Sharon, you captured this time in life so eloquently. Good luck as you sell your home and move ahead to the next chapter. I did this four years ago and it was very emotional but life is even better now.

  • Sharon, this is such a moving post and a reminder that life moves on and so must we. Although sometimes, nostalgia can be overwhelming. I so felt that when I read this. Hoping your buyer is just around the corner!

  • Awww… transition is hard, especially with all those memories. That said, change is good! 😀 Embrace it!

  • This is really beautiful and has me all kinds of teary-eyed. We are at the other end of things having been in our house only 2 years.

  • It’s bitter and it’s sweet. You walk the rooms and think of your life and touch doorknobs and remember the creaky stair at the top of the steps. And then the movers come and there’s a whirl of activity and you just keep moving and suddenly it’s done.

    It’s never easy, but the best part is the adventure of the new. We cherish one and we are excited for the other. I would bring you bread and salt and a bottle of wine to the new place if I could.
    Take care, Beth

    • Sharon Greenthal

      That’s such a lovely thought, Beth – thank you so much! We are very much looking forward to the adventure, but I know there will be tears.

  • Aw, hugs Sharon and wish you tons of luck! Can’t even imagine, but sure my day will come before I know it, too.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I know, Janine – I couldn’t imagine it when my kids were little either – it’s been wonderful raising my family in this home.

  • This is so beautifully expressed – I can feel the love and memories that live within the walls of your home and, more importantly, within your heart. Wishing you a successful sale, and all the very best in your new adventures.

  • I hope it sells quickly like taking off a band aid and you can immerse yourself in another home. Smaller?

  • Beautiful reflections and cheers to your next chapter!

  • So well written..so perfect…I am out of words..

  • Oh, this touches a nerve. We rebuilt our house from the ground up–moved here in 1984 and back again in 1993 in the new version after the fire. We brought home the last baby here in 1986. My daughter got married in the backyard. So many parties and celebrations…I’m watching my fellow empty nesters make the move, knowing that I’ll be coming along in the next few years. But, oh, I love this house. I was project manager during the rebuild, so everything in here reflects a choice I made. Sharon, I hope it all goes smoothly. Eager to see Part 2! Thanks for sharing all the memories.

  • You captured the bittersweet memories of a family’s first home so perfectly. Good luck with the move and with your next adventure! xo

  • What a lovely post, Sharon. Can’t wait to read part 2.

  • Beautifully written, Sharon. While I didn’t have children, and my life took different turns, so much of your story resonates with me. About my first home, I used to tell my husband he would “carry me out of here in a pine box”… and then we found our forever home that spoke to me on a level I didn’t know existed, and I knew. There were no tears, no looking back. It was time.

  • This is an exciting time for you! Making new memories in a new home, getting to decorate all over again! I know you will miss your home, but you will always have the wonderful moments that allowed you all to call it home!

  • One of the most liberating things I have learnt in recent years is to let go of the notion of a “forever” house, or place, or career etc. Yes, there are things that will have a piece of our hearts forever (I feel like that about the 7 years we lived in Ireland before moving to Vancouver,Canada). My new mindset is that those things are for a moment in time, a stage of life. And then it is time to step into a new stage. For me, that mindset makes it much easier to deal with the letting go and moving on and all the emotions that brings up. These changes don’t have to be better or worse, they are just different. . .

    Wishing you lots of fun, happiness and fulfillment as you move on to your next stage.

  • Sharon, this is so beautifully written. It made me cry. The love for your home is spoken in every word. As I get ready to move again myself, I envy you these memories. I have never had this home, nor did my parents – we were/are always on the move! It is always a challenge, always bitter-sweet. I have only been in this house four and a half years, but there will be tears when we leave. As everyone else has said, the excitement of your new chapter will take hold. Your memories will follow you there, plus you will make many happy new ones. All the best with selling your home and finding the perfect place for that new beginning.

  • Such a beautiful post for such a lovely home. If I were to sell this house, I’d say to any potential buyer that this home not only has solid bones, it also has a love-filled soul. Hugs to you, Sharon. Another home awaits your beautiful memories and joyful adventures. xoxo

  • I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments almost as much as I enjoyed the post, although that did make me feel choked! In a few years’ time that may well be me…

    I’m sure you’ll find that “different kind of wonderful” in your new home x

  • Oh so sad. That’s ok though, beautifully written. I went through this a year ago. I wish I would have felt how you feel about my house. I was dying to get away. Now I live in a tiny Manhattan apartment and it feels like home, for now. Again, the writing is lovely.

    Anita

  • So poignant and what a lovely home you have. I can see how hard it would be to leave. We’re also in the throes of moving from a place we’ve lived 13 years, the longest I’ve been anywhere. The kids are grown. The house is too big. Still, its hard.

    Just remember your lovely new house is coming, waiting to be filled with fresh, wonderful memories.

  • We’ve also just signed a contract to sell our house–a house we’ve lived in for more than 30 years. Like you, it is full of memories of bringing up our children and now having our grandchildren visit. We thought we weren’t ready to move until our son sat us down and made this argument: move out of suburbia while you’re still young and energetic enough to enjoy a different life style–one where you can walk to everything. When we talked about all the memories the house holds he made this point: Yes the house is full of wonderful memories, but those memories don’t go away. Don’t let the house become a weight around your future..
    So we are moving on–if we find a buyer. Looking forward to your Part 2–and ours.

  • Dina Gerber

    Sharon,

    I could have written this column thirteen years ago. We also lived in our 2052 sq ft home for 24 years. Our front door was the same as yours (painted white), we also added a pool and spa, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, repainted the exterior, painted and wallpapered the interior numerous times and raised three children.

    My husband said he could live in that house forever but with the children raised and on their own, and we at ages 56 and 59, I knew it was time to move from our changing neighborhood and two story home, with a pool that we used now infrequently.

    We lived in Las Vegas, NV and found an incredible “active adult” community Sun City Anthem in Henderson, NV. So 13 years ago, we made the move, and purchased a single story, 2000 sq ft home, with two bedroom and two baths. Our children and grandchildren all live in Las Vegas or Henderson, so we no longer needed four bedrooms.

    We love our community! We have made many wonderful new friends our the years and have a very busy social life. My husband agrees that I was right when I insisted that is was time to make a move.

    I wish you good luck and am sure you will not regret your decision. There is still so much more living for you to do and a new chapter in your life can be so rewarding.

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