Life changes. How do you read those words? Do you see them as a sentence—pointing out that life is continually changing? Did you see it as a prediction that this piece would detail changes in my life? Obviously, it can mean either or both.
A couple of years ago, Steve and I started talking about looking for a house with a one-floor plan, one that would have a master suite and laundry room on the same level as the rest of the house. At that time, our idea was to find a ranch home in Fort Thomas, where we’d lived since 1975.
Turns out that was not easy. Most of the ranch homes there are old enough that their laundry room is in the basement, as ours was. We didn’t look at any in person because we could eliminate them by seeing them online.
So then we started looking at condominiums. Most of the ones we looked at were in Cold Spring, a suburb south of Fort Thomas. Every one we toured had its drawbacks, and we were very discouraged. Smoke on walls and ceilings, pet smells, awkward floor plan, too small—myriads of negatives.
We had a very patient realtor, Lisa Brandenburg. She cheerfully showed us homes and condos, even when I suspect she knew this or that one would not work for us. Finally she told us about one that was soon to be on the market.
We met her there, along with the person who would be listing it, a colleague of hers. My first response upon arrival was “This place is too complicated to get to. Our friends would never find us here!” We talked to a neighbor who said there are many ways to get here, but we weren’t sure.
We wavered. We saw the advantages—everything we wanted on the main floor and a glorious view of Cincinnati from both decks. This place has more storage and more space in general than others we’d looked at. It has both an attached garage and a detached garage across the street. It has SO much more visitor parking than any condo we looked at.
There were also negatives. A winding way up the hill. About six main walls were covered with mirrors–floor to 9.5 foot ceilings. The televisions were over the fireplaces, and awkwardly mounted, with the mounting reflected in the mirrors behind it.
The kitchen was oddly arranged, with far less cabinet and counter space than I thought I needed. From the entry hall alone, three doors went into the kitchen, a great waste of wall space. The floors were laminate—a fake wood design.
We went back for the official open house. It looked better this time, since they’d hired a stager and eliminated some of the bachelor pad aspects. This time we were more impressed with the office space (officially the third bedroom, just across the hall from the kitchen.) We saw that it was big enough to share. We liked the lower level with the guest bedroom and a family room large enough for furniture, the treadmill, and the pinball machine. (Our most common question, once we told people we were moving: “What are you going to do with the pinball machine?”)
The third time we looked, we took our children and Dennis, the contractor who had done all our remodeling on Winston Hill. We needed his opinion on getting the mirrors down. He brought with him a “glass guy,” who assured us he and his crew could do it. (Which they did, with such skill they did not break a single section of mirror.)
Then we had to make a decision. It was by far the most spacious and accommodating property that we’d found. It was mid-March 2020, and the novel coronavirus was shutting down everything. We stewed. We prayed. We discussed. Finally we decided to make a lowball offer, knowing we’d have a lot of remodeling to do.
Turns out the seller, who actually just moved down the street, was eager to sell and we arrived at an agreed price IF we’d close on April 20. Yikes! But we managed to make it work.
Meanwhile, I’d told the neighbors we would probably be selling and they’d passed the word. Before our offer was even accepted on the condo, a lovely family with two little girls had called about it. The day our offer was accepted, I called her to ask when she’d like to see it. She said, “We’re actually walking on Winston Hill right now, but we can come later if you wish.”
I replied, “No, come ahead. You’ll see it as we really live,” and they came. They loved it and we loved them. Another person also looked at it, and he was very nice also. I let the first family know someone else had looked at it and gave them the price we’d settled on, well above the appraisal we’d gotten from an independent appraiser. They made us an offer the next day for our asking price and we accepted it. We were amazed that they didn’t quibble about the price. They’d been looking in Fort Thomas for two or three years, so they had a pretty good idea of what they were getting.
Some glitches in their financing were overcome and it was a done deal. I’d been going through things, sorting and discarding, for months, but then we had to ramp it up. It’s amazing how much stuff can be tucked away in backs of shelves and bottoms of closets and, especially, in a furnace room with shelves lining the walls. It was overwhelming.
I began selling items on Facebook Marketplace and we had three garage sales. After the third one, I sent a notice to Central friends offering what was left for free. A few people took me up on it and I’m thrilled that they have some items that were very special to me.
Meanwhile, our remodeling had begun. I was back and forth the four plus miles between our two homes. It was a bit daunting to own two homes! Two utility bills until June 1, when we closed on the sale of our house and began paying rent to the new owners. The moving guys came on June 10 and Steve and I finally cleared out the last of our stuff on June 12. It was all an exhausting experience.
It took us days, weeks, even, to get everything unpacked and/or in a storage area. We are still missing a few things that I’m sure are in a box in a storage area. We’ll find them eventually.
And what have we learned from these life changes? That we need less stuff. That getting rid of possessions, from large furniture to knickknacks is freeing. We love having less. We love knowing that we have enough clothes (and towels and washcloths) that we won’t need to shop for years. We enjoy the new furniture we bought and the old the furniture we kept. We love the newness of the hardwood floors and clean paint everywhere. I enjoy my new kitchen even though I’m still figuring out how best to organize and store.
I especially love having everything so close together. Of course that means that Steve and I are close together, too! Most of the time that works well. If not, then there is always the deck or the lower level that he can flee to. I’m trying to get him to think not “I’m always in your way” but instead “We often cross paths.”
I’m glad life changes. And I’m glad for the changes we’ve most recently had in our lives.
He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.