I was sitting in our master bedroom the other day in the late afternoon, the baby peacefully asleep in her nursery, the dogs gently snoring at the end of the bed, trying to close my eyes for a moment of rest. But I couldn't. It was the first moment that I felt happy in our rental house, and it was fleeting but wonderful.
One of the few things that I've come to love about this house is that our master bedroom does get the perfect amount of mid-afternoon sunlight. There's a tangled little forest off to the side outside one of our windows, and it diffuses the light quite pleasantly. The landlord chose a very pale color for the walls, and it feels airy in the afternoons. I wanted so badly to sleep during that quick moment of reprieve, but unfortunately my feeling of lightheartedness was so unfamiliar in this house that I instead contemplated how much I've missed that feeling so much over the past month.
Since we sold our townhouse, I've had a LOT of homesick moments, and the feeling of freedom that I hoped would come with no longer having a mortgage hasn't quite happened yet. Sitting so contentedly in our bedroom the other day was wonderful because it's such a rare feeling now, but it wasn't in our previous place. Really, this rental house is just that--a house, not our home. And that stinks.
Since today marks one month that we've lived in our here, I've been thinking about the past few weeks and the change they've brought to our lives. (And, man, talk about change!)
Let me step back a moment and remind you of our minimum requirements for a rental house:
1. Affordable: We wanted something that cost less than our mortgage + HOA + storage unit so that we could save some money (since we had to pay to get out of the townhouse).
2. Immediate Move-In: We needed somewhere that would approve us quickly so that we could begin moving our stuff within a few days (since our other rental fell through).
3. Good Location: We needed somewhere in the Alpharetta/Marietta area that was convenient to 400 (since its our lifeline to Atlanta and the airport).
Our rental home definitely meets all of those minimum requirements, the problem is that it stops there. It's old and outdated. The house feels lonely and scary at night. The basement smells and creeps me out, even in the middle of the day, and the huge chain across the door that gives extra protection doesn't give me extra peace of mind. Every time we have someone over, we give the whole don't-fake-excitement-we-know-it's-not-awesome-because-it's-just-temporary spiel to our guests, and even with our decor up, I don't think we'll ever be excited to call this our home. In fact, about ten minutes after we signed our lease, I looked at Ryan and admitted that in my head I'd nicknamed the place "Amityville." I hadn't wanted to tell him that before our moving in was official because I knew this was the right place for us, even if it didn't feel right, and I didn't want him to back out.
In the past month, we've unpacked nearly everything (save for the basement, which needs to really be dug through and purged, and an untidy garage) and have tried to make this place feel like we live here. (P.S. Initially I thought unpacking and decorating would take a weekend--ha!) We've adjusted to letting the dogs out (because before we had a dog door), have enjoyed Ryan having his own office, and are looking forward to having room in the garage for the cars soon. I've accidentally driven to our townhouse exactly four times, each time feeling panicked when I realize that it's no longer our home. I've been trying to look past all of the bad points about this house and focus on the good aspects: There are heat lamps in the bathrooms, which I never knew that I'd love; we'll be out of our storage unit by the end of the month, which will be a huge relief; the dogs are in heaven having their own big backyard; we can make noise until the wee hours of the night with no neighbors to bang on the walls... I'm trying to overlook that we don't have a garbage disposal, that the trees leak sap all over my car, that single-paned windows hold in exactly ZERO heat, that the dyer doesn't dry and the stove doesn't heat up quickly, that the floors squeak no matter where you are in the house...
Really, this house is my Amityville. I keep reminding myself that it's only for a year (we hope). If it's longer (since all we do is dream about our next house yet still can't agree on the basics of it), I may start finding excuses to travel with Ryan. (Ha!) In fact, I'm not even sure if he understands why this house impacts me so negatively, but since I'm the one spending 99% of my time here, no wonder it bothers me more. Plus, Ryan's much better at adjusting to change than I am, which we've both always known. When we got married, I distinctly remember having a conversation with Ryan about where we were going to live; I told him that it didn't matter, that I'd live in a shack with no running water and be happy as long as I was with him. I suppose God is taking me up on my offer now, seven years later. :)
At the very least, I can say thank you, Lord, for the roof over our heads and the means to pay for it. Here's to one year in Amityville!