“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
I once overheard my grade school art teacher telling a fellow student that quote. I was around 9 or 10 years old. It has stuck with me almost three decades later. For a long time, I didn’t understand what it meant in the slightest, but it still remained a present quote in my mind. Over the past few years of my life, I’ve begun to understand what it means to do the things we think we cannot. That is simply how this messy beautiful life works.
When I moved to Seattle in the summer of 2006, I knew this was one of the most expensive US cities in which you can live. I couldn’t help that, I fell fast and hard in love with Seattle. Home prices back then were incredibly high, and they’ve only gotten higher since Amazon has taken over the world and our every move in life. I never envisioned I’d be able to afford a home. Nor did I feel I’d ever want the responsibility and permanency home-ownership brings. I loved city living, walking everywhere, and the ability to change it up and move to a new area if the urge arose. I can’t live in the suburbs.
Andrew and I have lived that way together for eleven years. Things changed for him when we moved back to Seattle last year, and when he turned 40 earlier this year. He wanted to put down roots in our Northwest corner of the country, and pay towards a mortgage instead of monthly rent. So he began saving up and checking Redfin eight thousand times a week to see what homes were on the market. I looked over listings he occasionally shared with me, and went to a few house viewings with him, but I certainly preferred he lead the charge. Our apartment lease was through August 2019, so we were in no rush to find something. The research of homes around here became somewhat of a hobby for him. Fine, I thought, no harm in a hobby.
He loved the idea of having our own home, and we’d chat about what was important for us to find in a home. Not much yard, at least two bedrooms, a bathtub, decent sized living space. We debated location vs. interior/exterior space. We changed our minds a few times about where it was we could see ourselves living. Most recently, I decided I wanted to stay in West Seattle. I had to. I loved it too much to leave. I can’t leave all these amenities. It is truly a wonderful neighborhood with everything we could ever require and want in a short radius. But when we started looking at the homes within our budget in that area, the space was just not worth the selling cost to us.
Just when we’d decided to hold off and spend some more months saving and take our time, Andrew saw a posting for a home in SeaTac, the city near the major airport here, between Seattle and Tacoma. He showed me the listing. I don’t like the wood ceiling, I said. I don’t want to live in SeaTac, I said. I don’t want to leave West Seattle, I said. On the first of December, he went to the open house just to see it for himself. This is the text he immediately sent me.
I was preparing some dishes for a friendsgiving I was hosting in our apartment building with friends from work. He came home from the open house and was desperate to tell me about the house and how much he liked it. I cannot talk about it or think about it, I said. I’ve got Ottolenghi recipes I’m making here, and a table to set and decorate! Again, I can’t move to SeaTac, remember?
We woke up the following day and discussed the agenda for that day. We had errands to run and an invite to a friends Holiday Olympics event. I remembered that dang Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I don’t want to go see this house. Which is why I must indulge Andrew and go see it with him. I have learned that whenever I am feeling that I cannot do something, the solution is to lean into it and just do it and come out the other side stronger and wiser.
We met our broker at the house on that Sunday morning. As soon as we turned onto the private road, I knew I was in trouble. There were trees all around the property. It was such a quiet street. It only got worse when I stepped inside the home. I could see every bit of what Andrew was talking about. As did our broker, Mallory. It was a gorgeous rambler, recently painted, carpeted, roofed, etc. It needed nothing, and was vacant. The three of us couldn’t believe this place hadn’t already been scooped up on day one of listing. We all drove back to West Seattle and drew up an offer which was accepted a few days later after some negotiation. Oh my gosh, I thought. Here we go. I’m terrified. I don’t even know what all of this means.
Sixteen days later, we closed on the property and spent our first night in this home that was now ours. We are still in disbelief. It happened so quickly and smoothly. We moved our belongings into the home last Saturday (three weeks to the day after the open house Andrew attended; mind blowing) and have been busy bees getting everything unpacked and put away, and ready for our first guests flying in from London on the 27th.
Living here for one week has already changed my life. It is so calm and quiet, and so dark at night. There are no street lamps, no firetrucks buzzing past at night. I lay in bed and look out our master bedroom window at TREES and think, I never knew it would be this good. Time goes slower here, which is the most welcome change to me. Besides all the dang living space. In our apartment, the evening would turn into bedtime in the blink of an eye. I never had enough time. Being in this home feels like there is nothing but time.
We can play music as loud as we want (within reason), without fear of it blasting through shared apartment walls. We don’t have to worry about getting found out that we have two cats and therefore pay the pet rent our building charges (this is so ridiculous). My commute to work is twelve minutes. I’ve never had that short of a commute, ever. We have a guest bedroom…with a bed in it! We have more cupboards and storage than stuff to put in them. I am so happy to be in this home and I cannot believe that I fought it for so long. Good thing Andrew could visualize how sensational it could be to move into a home of our own. I am so grateful he led the charge on this and made it happen for us. It has truly been the most incredible Christmas gift that we will enjoy for so many years to come.
While our travel adventures may look a little different for a while, since we need to settle into a new budget and furnish the home to suit our taste and style (so much love for ALL THE mid-century modern), we will embrace all that comes with being responsible for this homestead, and make the very most of it. I didn’t know I needed this home in my life. I didn’t know what it would mean for our life together, at all. I didn’t know what happiness it would bring, and that it is OK to feel this happy.
I did the thing I thought I could not do. It’s been the best week. And there’s so much more to come. We are home.