Thursday, March 18, 2010

Playing House

Several blogs host a meme each week known as Flashback Friday.
If I'm being honest my whole blog is kinda like one giant flashback.
One of the reasons I blog is to have a place to record some of my memories...
to put into writing some of what has up to this point only been saved in my head.
And in my heart.

This weeks prompt is All Grown Up and the idea is to write about some event in your life that made you say, 'Hey, I'm a grown up'.
Feel free to join in with a post of your own but be sure to link back to
Mylestones so everyone can read along.

When I was a little girl I loved playing house.
My friends and my sister and I would set up houses outdoors, name our
imaginary children, and dress up in my mother's old clothes.
Mortgage payments, home repairs, points, escrow and taxes were never a part of our game.


I've been going thru boxes of photos in recent weeks and I came
across some pictures of our very first house.
When we got married we moved into a two bedroom apartment in Knoxville Tennessee. We'd been married less than a year when my husband took a new job with his current company and we moved to Richmond Virginia.
We had a college friend in Richmond who happened to be a realtor and he found us a townhouse to rent. We spent a year there before making the move into our very first house.
I remember how scary it was to get the mortgage papers and see
it would be 'officially' ours in the year 2016.

I'd be in my fifties then.
Too far away to even contemplate.
And the money.
Oh my word it felt like a fortune.
And to a couple of 20 somethings back in 1986 it was.
I remember going to the closing, carefully pouring over every page
before signing our names forty two times.
We were home owners.
Officially grown up.

We loved that house.
It was a saltbox and the stairs came down into the kitchen which
had two walls of windows. We bought the house from a single man who
had greatly overestimated his green thumb.
Lots of good intentions but not so great at the follow through.
The yard was a mass of brambles and weeds but plunked down throughout was one plum tree, two big apple trees, two peach trees and two apricot trees.
Do you have any idea how many apricots one large tree produces?
Just ask our lawn mower.
I picked and washed and cooked pies and jams and turnovers and cobblers and I gave away by the armful but short of opening my own farm stand there was no way we could have consumed the amount of fruit these trees produced.

We had big plans for that back yard.
We had to pay someone to come in and pull out the brambles with
a machine but after that it was all my husbands baby.
He mowed and weeded and fertilized and aerated and watered and had
that grass looking like a putting green.
No one could believe the end result, most especially the man who had sold us the house.

As it happens that was the first of many green lawns we
would care for and own.
We were in the house only two years when we were transferred to Columbus Ohio.

Brand new house.
Brand new neighborhood still under construction.
No grass.
Lots and lots of mud.
Soon, brand new grass.
And a brand new baby.
One year later, almost to the day, we are transferred.
To North Jersey this time, another house and another yard, this time with
some woods to explore.

There may have been more than a few leaves raked here.
My husband had a brutal commute.
We had another baby.
Five years zoom by.
Transferred to Maryland.
Another house.
In no time at all hubs had the grass looking like Augusta.
We grew impatiens the size of shrubs.

Our cul de sac was lined with Bradford pears that bloomed like snow fairies every spring.

Nine happy years in this sweet little cul de sac and then blink.
Its off to England.
Renters once more.
But the most fantastic garden of any house I've ever lived in.
A dream garden.
And a gardener to take care of it so what's not to love?

2009. Back to NJ.
Closings aren't scary anymore.
Just tell me where to sign.

But I still remember that first house.
We loved fixing it up.
We went to NC and bought our dining room furniture and a big
cherry desk for our office at the showrooms there.
It was the nicest thing we owned.
We loved that furniture.
We still love it.

In that very first house we set up home.
I developed a real love for cooking there.
We got our very first puppy...
a shepherd collie mix that someone had
dumped on the road behind our neighborhood.
She moved three times with us.
She was loyal and protective of me.
She was a good dog.
We hosted a bbq the night before my sister's wedding.
For family and friends.
It was 100 degrees.
Our air conditioner died.
Our first taste of the 'joys' of home ownership.
Still, a happy night.
We had fun neighbors.
It was a small cul de sac and we had lots of friendly get togethers.
We were young.
But we felt like grown ups.
We were.
We had hubs' whole family for Christmas in that house.
How fun it was to decorate for the holidays and pull out all my wedding
china and cook Christmas dinner.

And it was in this house we first heard those magical words-
'You're going to have a baby.'

We're a long way from that little saltbox on a cul de sac in Virginia.
But we remember those days with a smile.
We were truly on our own for the first time in our married life.
No parents nearby.
In hindsight I can see it was making us ready for a lifetime of moving
and living away from family.
We weren't kids playing house.
We were grown ups.


  1. Wow...a beautiful journey beginning in Richmond! Thank you for sharing!
    Hugs, andrea

  2. Your saltbox house is adorable. It looks sonice and cozy and your english garden is to die for. Lucky you! All that beauty and a gardener to boot.

  3. With all those closings, you probably could write the contract up yourself! Isn't it amazing to look back on our journeys and see how we've grown up? Love your hubs' 'stache! :D

  4. Thanks for sharing Joyce, this is so sweet. I'm not sure I could have moved so often and been so positive about it too! Looks like you all made it work with great memories to boot!

  5. WOw, you're no stranger to moves! Love your English back garden, did the gardener grow veggies in his green house?

  6. You have such a wonderful way with words! Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  7. I loved that! I don;t think i've ever seen a picture of your first house before. Besides you know I was/very much still am all about playing house! I love you so much!

  8. Joyce,

    Oh how much fun it was to see and hear about the many homes you've owned and the memories that lay within each and every one of them. Love your garden in England with all that lavender! I can smell it from here!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  9. Ahh, the first home. Nothing says grown-up like signing (what feels like) your life away, right?
    Our first house held many of the same firsts--the puppy, the news of a baby, the (attempting!) to learn to cook! :-)
    Thanks for linking up this week!

  10. Hey Joyce! I am so glad you stopped by my blog and I have enjoyed your daughter's blog too! Our first house was wonderful... oh sweet memories. I hope you have a restful weekend too!

  11. You have such a poetic way of writing about your memories! Beautiful! I loved getting to know you better this way.

  12. That saltbox house is awesome. I love that style. Wow you have moved around so much. I know that it's a good way to purge things but all the work involved in moving, OMG!

  13. Thank you for taking me through your journey. What a magnificent set of homes you have had. We still live in our first condo and we are putting it up on the market next week. It is bittersweet. I see that now more than I ever did after reading this. Thank you for that.

    Great post!

  14. For someone who has lived in one town her whole life, your post was quite an adventure. I have only lived in 4 houses in my life. All in the same town!!! I love your first house and the memories that came with it. And also all your other homes and the memories made in each one. Your home in England will always hold many special memories and happy times. Hopefully you and Tim can stay in New Jersey and won't have to move anymore. I bet you bought your furniture in High Point. Greensboro is right next to High Point. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Enjoyed it so much! I played house all the time when I was a little girl. Such fun! Love & blessings from NC!

  15. I loved this post! We lived in Knoxville as newlyweds, also. And, like you, stayed there less than a year. Moved around a lot until 4 years ago and now, I'm hoping, that this will be where we stay. For a long time. I still feel like I'm playing house sometimes, though.

  16. I loved seeing all of your homes and reading about the special memories. I especially like the saltbox home.
    That first home together is so special. We married so young. I look back and laugh at the way we decorated. We were just so thrilled to have our own place.
    We've only moved twice since we got married over 30 years ago.
    I've already moved both my kids enough for all of us. :)
    Great post Joyce!

  17. Awesome post! I loved all the houses and am jealous of all your lawns/gardens.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  18. I really enjoyed reading your post! The houses you have lived in are all beautiful. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.