I don’t think I’ve ever written a post that has generated so many comments, both here and on Facebook, so thank you for your thoughts and your encouragement.
More musings as we work through this decision: A few of you referenced my mom and the fact that my family moved from a “regular” house to a larger and grander one shortly after the birth of my brother Cory. (My parents, three teenagers and a baby had been sharing one bathroom, so I guess I can’t complain!) Well, my mother hated living in that new house and we moved again within eight months. But–and this is important–it wasn’t the house that made her so unhappy; it was the neighborhood she’d left behind. We had lived on the corner of two vibrant blocks that were absolutely swarming with kids. We walked to school in a rowdy pack, played our summer night games (Ghost in the Graveyard and Release the Dungeon) across a dozen backyards, had elaborate block parties with bike races and square dances. My parents met people on that street who become their closest friends and have remained so to this day. So, despite the fact that we only moved a mile away, it was a huge loss for my mom. As a stay-at-home mother, she felt isolated and lonely on a block filled with old rich people. (Ironically, that very street today is alive with young families, but the turnover had yet to occur.)
So it wasn’t that my mom regretted moving to a larger house (in fact, the house they moved to next and that they still live in today is larger than that one was). It’s the people that surrounded them. The lesson here for me is a big one. We live on a nice street now, as I’ve already said and we have lovely neighbors, people who are friendly and stop to chat and follow along with Austin’s story (and I know a lot of you are reading and I truly mean no offense). But these are not our closest friends and they are not the best friends of our children. In fact, there are surprisingly few families with young kids on this block.
Now the block we might move to, the block with the big house, is swarming with young children. I’ve been told by one woman (part of the group currently lobbying us to move there) that there are 43 kids in a block-and-a-half stretch. Forty-three kids who have bike races and lemonade stands, play wiffle ball and kick-the-can, and who walk together in a noisy jumble to public school.
My mom is actually strongly encouraging this move, saying things like, “Oh, I walked by it today and that house doesn’t look all that big.” Now anyone who knows my mom and her reluctant attitude towards extravagence, knows how funny this is. But, in her mind, there is nothing like belonging to a street of families who’ve come together to raise their children. That is the strongest bond. It is our village.
We’re leaning towards it, if you couldn’t already tell. We go back tomorrow with a contractor we know and trust who will help us gauge the significance and necessity (and cost) of improvements and upkeep. For those of you who’ve asked very specific questions, it does have all new copper plumbing and a brand new roof, and yes, we are taking heating costs into consideration (it’s one of the biggest considerations!).
As Mark and I lay in bed last night discussing it yet again (you see, that’s our only chance to talk uninterrupted), we noted how happy we’ve been here, happy as a couple and happy as a family, and we wondered if messing with that could be a mistake. But we both agreed that the happiness and the magic is not in the house. It’s not in this house and it’s not in that one. It’s in us. And we’ll pack it up and bring it with us wherever we go.