“But I’ve only ever lived here!” T cried through stressed out eleven-year-old tears as I tried to convince her that she needed to pare down her plush Pokemon menagerie to no more than a dozen. “I don’t know how to live anywhere else.”
It’s true. We built this house when her brother was still a baby, and she was no more than an idea. Thirteen years ago, we looked around our mid-century rambler full of brand new baby gear and realized that we needed more house to accommodate our growing family. So, we packed Baby K into the car and went in search of a home we could grow into, one that would last us a long time.
When we found Belmont, we fell in love. There were sidewalks and streetlights and even some neighbors that we knew already. The first time we walked into the model home, we were sold. Huge windows meant tons of natural light, and make the house feel even bigger than it is. The columns in the entryway reminded me of the ones in my grandmother’s Victorian era house in North Carolina. We could picture our children coming down the stairs. The open plan of the kitchen family room and breakfast room was perfect for a young family. I could cook dinner while keeping an eye on the kids. And the possibility of a third floor excited my imagination.
So, we built that same model. Thinking of kids learning to walk, we chose to have the corners of the walls rounded to protect little heads. We picked hardwood floors, and the options we wanted. Thinking of future possibilities, I insisted on stairs up to the third floor. I even chose the distinctive blue siding, a nod to another blue house that I lived in when I was in college (The River Maiden readers will be familiar with the blue house on Ransom Street). It was everything we wanted and more.
We moved in almost exactly thirteen years ago. And we’ve had a magical thirteen years. Baby K will start high school next year, and this is the only home T has known. Thirteen years of Christmases and snowfalls, first days of school and Halloweens (very big in this neighborhood). Thirteen springs with the pear tree blooming lush and white. It took a couple of years, but we added a deck. In a few more, we finally finished a room in the attic. I call the ‘lady loft’. It’s my office and where I do the work of researching, publishing and selling my books. I’ve written all of my books in this house.
But after thirteen years, it’s just not working for us anymore. When we bought the house, my husband was working in Prince William County, and I was working in Fredericksburg. After both of us got caught up in the dot com bust of the early 2000’s, we liked the idea of living between the job markets of northern Virginia and Richmond. We reasoned that if one of us got laid off, we would have a broader area to look for work.
Now, I’m working at home and he’s commuting four hours a day to and from DC. That leaves me basically a single parent during the week. Since we don’t have the option of picking up our much-loved house and moving it closer to DC, we’ve put the house on the market. And we’re working with the kids to find a home that suits us and will shorten his commute thus improving the quality of life for all of us. Naturally, there is some adjustment, as evidenced by T’s outburst. With many hugs because change, even when it’s for the best, is hard. We’re working together as a team giving everybody a voice.
For the next family that lives here, we want to welcome you. We want to tell you about the fun the neighborhood has on Halloween, and the way folks light up their houses at Christmas, and how beautiful the pear blossoms look against the blue siding. You’ll love how the crepe myrtle beside the house meets the one in the neighbor’s yard to form a perfect flowery arch. The neighbor’s yellow tabby cat will probably greet you when you come home. His name is Cleveland and he loves to be scratched behind the ears. In August, gladiolas bloom in the back yard. There has been much happiness and love here. We hope you find some too.