In the next few days, we’re moving into a house—our first house. 🏡 Exciting!
Well, actually, it’s been far more overwhelming than I could have possibly imagined.
I anticipated some stress re: packing, cleaning, moving and impending house updates (she’s not quiiiite a fixer-upper, but there’s definitely work to do). But in the last three weeks, while we could have been packing or cleaning or painting, we have instead tackled a mouse infestation in our current apartment (like 17 of them 😵💫🐭), COVID and a nasty storm that tipped a tree onto one of our cars and blew out the back windshield of the other. There have been a few other stressful happenings too, I just can’t remember them all at this point. 😅
However, the purpose of this post is not to complain about the chaos that is our life right now, or lament the gritty realities of home ownership (or car ownership for that matter…). It’s about saying goodbye to our dear, sweet apartment on Main Ave. 😢💔
If you’ve talked to me in person about this whole buying-our-first-house sitch, you know that despite my genuine excitement about this next life adventure and all the potential there is in our new space, I am also a sentimental monster who must first fully grieve the precious apartment that we called home during this most recent chapter of life.
(TBH the last few weeks have made it a bit easier to say goodbye to the apartment, what with the 17 mice and a tree falling on our car thing… but I digress.)
As we started house hunting, I was a mess of mixed feelings. Though I knew deep down that we were outgrowing the apartment—longing for a backyard for Nessie, for room to grow and for a space that we could truly call our own and customize—there was still a part of me that just couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to this spot.
When it comes to major life changes, I’ve always been one to sink deep into the bittersweet emotions, usually before the change has even occurred. Grieving in anticipation, you might say.
My mom remembers many somber, existential conversations with tears rolling down my cheeks when it came time to switch from grade school to high school (and then again from high school to college). Mason is also quite familiar with the melancholy that gripped me upon changing jobs or even moving from previous apartments.
So, now that I have this handy dandy blog, I figured a good grieving mechanism would be to write a proper farewell to this apartment. To be clear, this post is primarily self-serving, but if you’re into old homes dripping with character or general sentimentality, you may want to stick around.
I found this place by fate-like chance on Facebook Marketplace the very same day that our lease was terminated early by an exceptionally unreasonable previous landlord (don’t get me started…). We toured that evening and were told that we would need to make a decision within an hour if we wanted it (others were interested, too).
I remember sitting in our car after that tour, trying to process the fact that we’d gone from having a place to live to having to decide on a new apartment in less than 12 hours. Still, something about it felt right though, despite all the chaos and uncertainty.
Bear in mind, this rental was still under construction when we toured. The house, built in 1890, was undergoing a loving transformation into a duplex by our landlords, Lance and Rachael of Historic Rentals. There were still cabinets to be installed, bathroom fixtures to be hung and walls to be painted, but they assured us it would look great in a matter of weeks. Truthfully, it didn’t take much more than a quick glance at the hardwood floors, the deck and the bathroom tile to know this was home.
Ironically, Mason had lived in the apartment complex across the street two years prior, and he remembers the house looking downright haunted at the time. A drooping, unkempt willow loomed in the front yard, and a layer of peeling siding covered the character and craftsmanship beneath the surface.
Our landlords explained that they had spotted a telltale sign of that character—Victorian detailing on the front gable—while walking by one day, and immediately knew the house was something special. When it went up for sale in 2016, they seized the opportunity and got to work uncovering the beauty.
Based on the layout, they believe the home was originally built as a duplex, and that’s how they kept it, split into a downstairs and an upstairs apartment.
We got to call the upstairs home, and I have known and loved every corner and detail of this beautiful space, from the original hickory floors, thick trim and window frames, vintage fixtures, intricate brass doorknobs and the stack of exposed brick in the living room. Most of all though, I think I’ve loved the light.
It streamed in beautifully at all times of day, at every angle, but best of all in the dining room in the late afternoon. I loved catching the flickers of sunshine that would greet me as I strolled from my office to the kitchen to pour an iced coffee and watch our resident squirrel building his nest on the tree overhanging our deck.
Oh, the deck.
It wraps around the front of the house, overlooking the street below. Strung with bistro lights and crowded with plants, it was one of our favorite places to sit and watch the world go by, eat dinner in the summer and curl up with blankets, cocktails and friends late into the evening.
We moved in on Halloween, just months before the pandemic struck, and we couldn’t have felt more lucky to have settled somewhere with more room than our previous apartment and, more importantly, an outdoor space to enjoy.
As time went on, we were able to host so many loved ones, whether for dinner and drinks or as overnight guests in our second bedroom/office. We started a movie night tradition with two friends, a rotating dinner party with others and have hosted parties for New Year’s Eve, birthdays and casual gatherings when friends from out of town were home.
Slowly and tenderly, we made this place home more than we had any of our collective five other apartments. We lived here for just shy of three years—longer than we’ve lived anywhere other than our parents’ homes—and it was the first place we truly felt settled. Though it was technically our third apartment together, I have a feeling this is the place I’ll think back on 20 years from now when I’m remembering the newlywed days.
It was here that we finally framed wedding photos and purchased our first big piece of art from a local antique store.
Here, where I created my first home office and was photographed in it by 605 Magazine for a “working at home” feature in the midst of COVID. A year later, I took new branding photos in the apartment with Ajla of Sun People Studio. And just a few months ago, we hosted a photoshoot for our friend Cami’s business, Ripe and Roasted.
We (well, mostly me) brought home dozens of Facebook Marketplace and Goodwill gems to decorate shelves, walls and tables.
But probably the sweetest milestone in this space was bringing home our puppy, Nessie, in February 2021.
We will miss the friendly faces in our neighborhood. The construction worker down the block and the neighbor across the street, both of whom are obsessed with Nessie. Our landlords, of course. The owners of our favorite coffee shop who live across the back alley from us. From our perch on the deck, we waved to friends walking or biking by.
We’ve loved hearing our downstairs neighbor’s piano tunes float up softly through the floorboards. And I made a point to stop and take it in every time the snow was falling slowly outside the windows of my office.
This space was put together with care and thoughtfulness, first by our landlords who paid attention to detail and honored the historic nature of the house as they renovated it, and then by us, doing what we could to decorate slowly and intentionally, filling it with friends and laughter first, over new furniture.
I’m trying, but I don’t quite know how to explain what this place has meant to me. When I look around now in these last few days, surrounded by piles of books and cardboard boxes, I think of all the memories that were created between these walls. I think that’s part of the sadness of moving on for me—a false notion that the friendships and experiences shared here will not carry over to a new place. I’ve expressed that admittedly silly fear to a few people, and they’ve all laughed at me (an encouraging sign!), but I still find myself tearing up a bit at the thought of handing over the keys. If you haven’t gathered yet, I’m going to miss this place.
The list of things that won’t be missed is short. Tromping down the stairs to take Nessie out on her leash at all hours. The vexing shower curtain rod that crashed down in the middle of the night, time and time again, making me think a burglar was in the house. The squirrels and birds that made their way into the attic a few times. That’s about it. (I won’t include the mice or the car-crushing tree in that list—those were freak occurrences. 😅)
And of course we’re excited for our first home of our own. It will be a new type of adventure that we’ve never tackled before—painting, DIY projects and gardening in our very own yard. In a way though, this apartment will always feel a little bit like our first home. The first place we really made a home.
We are so grateful to our landlords for letting us love this space. And to our friends and family for helping us make it a home. (And ya know, moving us in and out of it, too…). I hope the next tenant finds it just as special as we have. Meanwhile, I’m packing and consoling myself with the knowledge that someday soon I’ll be feeling just as sentimental about our new home. Stay tuned for that. 💛
What do you love? For me, it's hearing a good story, working in my garden (during the few warm months we get here in South Dakota), cozying up to watch a movie and hanging out with my husband, my friends and my cuddly pup, Nessie.
Oh, and I'd love to meet you, too!