Whether it's because I'm a woman, or a design engineer, or a control freak or some combination of all those elements is unclear to me, but I feel a strong need to make my house MY house. Actually, "strong need" doesn't really even begin to describe it. It's more an obsessive desire that I can't seem to shake that haunts me when I should be focusing on things that, when I think about it logically, are much more relevant.
I've lived in my current house for five, almost six years. When we moved into our little vanilla, cookie cutter house I was as excited about home ownership as I was bored with the specific house we'd selected. Other than the kitchen, which was strikingly un-me with it's bland laminate countertops and decorative backsplash reminiscent of the middle-aged woman who owned the kitchen before me, it had very little personality to speak of. Maybe it's for that reason that it took almost six years for me to really own my house and make it reflect some element of me (and my husband, of course). It didn't really reflect any personality initially, so it wasn't so difficult to let the house and its lack of features fade into the background while we focused on developing careers and starting a family. In spite of that, the house slowly evolved. The giant hedges were replaced with stone-edged flower beds giving the place somewhat of a cozy cottage feel from the outside. One of the vanilla bedrooms became a nursery with curtains and framed jungle animal prints, created with care by yours truly, and a few years later the other became a giant aquarium for toddlers with giant sharks covering the walls and assorted water life carpets scattered across the floor. One-by-one, the generic brass fixtures were replaced with rustic pieces and finally (FINALLY!) the kitchen had matching appliances, solid surface countertops, and a subtle subway tile backsplash that tied everything together. And suddenly, it felt like MY house. So, of course, it must be time for us to upgrade to a bigger place with a more room for pre-schoolers to kick soccer balls in the yard and guest rooms for grandparents and space to entertain pretentious coworkers. Of course.
On paper, the new place is much more suited to us. We can walk to restaurants, bars, shops... my husband can even walk to work. It's on a quiet cul-de-sac with a long driveway - much more appropriate for tricycles and bicycles and I'm sure some day in spite of my efforts to the contrary, skateboards. Instead of looking like it dropped straight out of the same mold as every third house on the street, the new place is much more unique. An updated colonial-style, and in fact, I don't think I've ever seen another house that looked just like it. So why is it that in spite of all the clear advantages, I am drowning in anxiety as I anticipate the closing this afternoon and the move a week and a half from now?
Friends have described something between sadness and nostalgia, moving out of the house they brought their babies home to, especially in knowing that their kids are too young to really remember ever having lived there. I think that's part of it. The new place also comes with a new to-do list 34 items long, and that's just what we've identified during the inspection without ever having lived there. I suppose that contributes a bit to my feeling of dread as well. But there's something else, and the logical part of me can't reconcile the intensity with which I feel it. It can't really be possible that the majority of my anxiety comes from my dread of having to start over on making a home feel like it's MY home? How did the angst-filled teenager with no desire other than to strike out on her own to create a comfortable life become this obsessed woman in her early-thirties who is having trouble breathing because none of the lovely curtains in her new home are anything she would ever purchase for herself? Again, the logical part of me can't believe it's something so ridiculous causing the anxiety. But, as I finish the first coat of the cabinet transformation that will take my new cabinets from oak to chocolate, I find myself relaxing and I have to admit, making my house my own matters much more than I think it really should.