I was out for a run yesterday morning when I ran past “the one that got away.” That is, the first house that D and I ever made an offer on. The house we lost in a bidding war.
Six years ago we were renting a condo together. We had been married for a little over a year and were ready to start a family. We knew we didn’t want to have kids in a condo so we began our search for a house.
At first it was kind of fun. We’d pop into open houses on the weekends and take different routes through our preferred neighbourhoods to check out what our options may be. After a couple of months of casual looking,we started working with a real estate agent who helped us get in to see houses quickly when something desirable would come on the market. We saw a lot – I mean A LOT – of houses.
In January 2009, we found it. It was a great house. It met D’s criteria of being a bit of a fixer-upper (he wanted to do some renovations himself) and it was in the neighbourhood we wanted. It was a corner lot with a nice sized backyard and a private driveway (which is pretty uncommon for the houses we could afford in this neighbourhood. Most have a mutual drive).
We brought my mom to see it (always feels good to have parental approval!) and even brought in a contractor buddy of D’s to get advice on what we could/couldn’t do before making a formal offer.
I don’t think either of us slept a wink after we submitted that offer. I know I spent the night imagining what our life would be like in that house (and I’m pretty sure D was remodelling the whole thing in his head). I could see us living there and loving it. I could picture our future kids playing in the yard while we BBQ’d. I could see us walking to the nearby park. This was our house!
After a stressful day of negotiations we ended up losing the house to someone else. We were shocked. I was definitely devastated. I knew, logically, that there would be other houses but I had to spend a bit of time grieving the life I had imagined in that house.
A couple of months later, we found our current house. And to be honest, I don’t regret what happened at all. Surely we would have been very happy there. But the house we ended up in is our home. We have amazing neighbours, with tons of kids on our block. We are a short walk to the daycare and to public transit. It’s hard to picture how life would be if we lived somewhere else.
Thinking about what might have been if we had bought that house makes me realize how often our lives take twists and turns that we don’t expect (or that we don’t necessarily want). And how these twists and turns can impact everything that happens afterwards. For example, we decided that we wouldn’t start trying to get pregnant until after we had purchased a house. If we had succeeded in buying that first house, we would have started trying to conceive sooner. Would it still have taken us 14 months to get pregnant? Or would it have happened right away? It’s crazy to think we could have a five-year-old instead of a not-quite-4-year-old right now.
My friend’s twins turned one recently. I sometimes think about the day that she told me they were expecting the twins. We had just told them we were pregnant with our second child, Puppet. We were so excited to be due around the same time. Our older sons are the same age and we had really enjoyed spending our first maternity leave together. Then, a couple of weeks after we’d shared the news, we lost Puppet.
Seeing those one-year-old twins (who are so sweet and funny!) makes me think about that crazy, awful twist my family’s life took when we had the miscarriage. We would have had a one-year-old child now too. But instead, we have this amazing, sweet, happy, strong and handsome little seven-month-old boy.
It’s kind of like the house that could have been: Something we loved and thought we wanted more than anything else. Something we lost that was beyond our control. The house was just a thing, not a person, but both those losses led us along the path to where we are right now, today. I don’t know what might have been, but I do know what is. And at this very moment, there is nowhere I’d rather be than in this little house with this family.