We moved to Nashville in the summer of 2012, and signed a 2-year lease on a rental house in East Nashville. We weren’t planning to buy a house anytime soon. It was an adorable house in a great location, but it was just 1400 square feet, and we quickly felt the lack of space.
House in the background…the story (if I remember it correctly) was this brick Madilyn is standing on was from Hank Williams’ home.
Jeff kept looking at houses online and telling me about how the prices were really rising in this area. I said I’d start looking just to keep tabs on the market in the event we wanted to buy when our lease was up.
I drove by a few houses just to compare what they looked like online to in person.
Then I saw it.
I turned the corner and entered one of the most beautiful streets I’ve ever seen, and there was this house … I just had this “moment” with it and knew it was going to be our next home … or “forever” home. (I blogged about it here.)
The Cedarwood House
I shouldn’t shake the feeling. I didn’t even think it was going to be possible. I called Jeff at work and said, “I just found our house.”
I shot an email off to our landlord just to test the waters on if it would be feasible at all. She said, “I think we can work something out.” She actually said she supported us investing in East Nashville. What a community!
So we moved forward. The sellers accepted our offer November 4. I couldn’t believe it was really happening. Everything went so smoothly – and fast!
Turkeys in the front yard
I adore the floor length windows – so much light
Two weeks later, I lost my job. The company I had worked for the past five years had been sold.
Since I worked remotely, I began seeking out other freelance work. There were stretches when I had regular income, and others that I didn’t.
Over the next two and a half years, we made a lot of wonderful memories in our home.
Our besties Jaya and Andre
But we were not in a good place financially. No savings and credit cards maxed out.
Panic set in. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I began to experience major anxiety.
By the summer of 2015, we didn’t have money for extra expenses, like fixing our brakes or the AC that had gone out in our family car, or our fridge.
We also didn’t have enough to travel to Florida to see our family (or go anywhere for that matter), and that also meant we had to pull out of a friend’s wedding that the girls were going to be in. I absolutely hated letting them down.
It was tough, and I realize that a lot of other people have it much, much worse. We are privileged. Our situation was not dire. We just weren’t making enough to support our lifestyle. I completely acknowledge that.
Knowing how much the value of homes had risen in the area, I realized that by selling our house, we could alleviate our financial discomfort, pay off our credit cards and start fresh. So we did.
We desperately wanted to stay in the neighborhood as we had just spent the last three years planting roots, building friendships and working in the community. To do that, we bought a house that was considerably smaller and older (about 1600 square feet and built in 1949) and 2 miles away. And even that was the top of our budget.
Still, we were lucky. It had tons of character and a great big fenced in back yard. Best of all, we hit the “neighbor jackpot,” I would say. We met some dear friends in all directions of the house, and some of them have kids in the school. They each invited us into their tribe — and I truly believe and hope they’ll be friends for life.
At the same time as the move, my longtime friend had started a company and asked me to work for him. It was part-time but he believed it wouldn’t be long until it transitioned into full-time work. It was steady income and allowed me to work from home.
But the smaller house was quite an adjustment. Over the next two years, Jeff and I had ongoing conversations about how to make the house work for us. We were grateful to be recovering financially and making better decisions. We didn’t want to keep accruing debt by adding on or building out.
It was a constant exercise in learning to be content.
I began coming to terms with my anxiety and began doing a lot of emotional work, including going to counseling. I even told a friend, “I have learned so much about myself in the past two years i feel like i’m a different person (thank you enneagram and counseling!). if i had known what i do now, i think i would have handled things differently two years ago.”
I realized that my anxiety blinded me from believing I had options. I did what I thought was best at the time (selling the house), but I still dealt with major regret … (what if we had waited a bit longer?) But now I also realize the changes forced me to deal with my anxiety head-on. I’m grateful for that.
My kids also asked us often, “Why did we move?”
Little Ellenor would refer to the old house as the “sunny house.”
It was painful knowing the instability we had created. But I was glad that Madilyn had stayed in the same elementary school since we moved here. And they had lots of neighbor friends to play with.
Then, late this summer, Jeff got the itch to move. Nearly two years to the day that we’d moved in, he began talking to me about moving (again) so we’d have more space for our family. He pointed out how anxious I had been since we moved in.
He was right. I knew the house would not be a long-term fit for us, but the timing seemed awful. Terrible, in fact.
It was the end of summer break, and school was about to start back. Ellenor was going into Kindergarten! I had just started working full-time, and I knew a move would be an enormous time-suck.
Yet, Jeff was motivated unlike I had ever seen him. He tackled about three pages’ worth of home repair projects in two weekends.
I reluctantly began to declutter and pack and look for houses. We wanted to stay in the area, after all, Jeff still worked in the neighborhood middle school. Madilyn was now going there, too. But I knew this time we probably wouldn’t be able to. And honestly, I was crushed.
It seemed inevitable we would end up with different schools for the kids.
We found one house we liked in Hendersonville, but we couldn’t get an offer on it fast enough. Then another we were able to put an offer on but were outbid. Finally, we found a third one and finally had an offer accepted.
Still, I was grieving. I went back to counseling after taking a break over the summer, and I began prepping the kids as I prepped the house. We kept playing up the benefits of the move, and we kept telling ourselves that this was it. We wouldn’t be moving again for a long time.
We were grateful the new house would still be close enough to maintain some of our existing connections, but I also knew we’d have to completely rebuild our social life in the new area. New schools, new friends — all of it.
A couple weeks later, I ran into a neighbor from the other side of the old house (Rick), and he told me the people who had bought our old house had moved out and were going to sell it.
My heart started racing …. What were the chances? I threw a couple things in my cart and checked out. My head was spinning.
We were under contract with the other house, so there wasn’t anything we could do about it. It seemed crazy to even think about it. I told Jeff and then just tried to let it go.
We moved forward with the inspection at new house, but things were going really badly — and had been since the start. I don’t even feel comfortable going into details here. Feel free to ask me about it.
It got to the point I couldn’t help but think this wasn’t meant to be and that we should walk away. We couldn’t come to a reasonable agreement over the repairs, so we terminated the contract during the resolution period — just a week and a half before we needed to move in.
I started looking for other houses and even rental houses in the event we couldn’t find a house that was right for us. I kept feeling regret for selling the Cedarwood house, knowing if we could have somehow made it work back then, we wouldn’t be in this situation today.
I kind of sheepishly asked Jeff what we thought about messaging the owner of our old house — just to see what she’s planning to sell the house for.
He said, “Give it a shot.”
I wrote her a message on Facebook, but felt so embarrassed by it that I DELETED it — I mean, what a crazy idea, right?! Who does this?
BUT she had already seen it, and she responded later that night. They too, had moved back into their old house! But they had not made any concrete plans to sell it just yet. But if we were interested, she said she could tell us about the half-plans she’d made so far.
My real estate agent knew her, so he called and talked to her as well. She told him for some reason the house just never really felt it like was theirs and even referred to the house as ours. The next morning, she she decided she willing to sell it back to us.
Jeff and the girls were in the room when our realtor told us over speaker phone.
In that moment, the floodgates opened, and I began like hard core ugly crying. The kids were jumping up and down screaming with delight.
I cried off and on all day — I was feeling waves of relief and joy. I could not believe it. We had a chance to get our old house back! Maybe this really was the house that we were meant to have.
Last week, the sellers signed our offer, so we are officially under contract and are set to close later this month. Less than 24 hours ago, we moved into the house. The sellers weren’t ready or prepared to move the rest of their stuff out of their house, but they made it happen just so we could move in when we needed to before our other closing date.
They’ve been so generous, and I am so grateful.
I’m in awe, really.
I think back to the chain of events that brought us to this place. There is no way we could have ever orchestrated it.
What if I hadn’t seen Rick in the grocery store?
What if I pushed back on Jeff when he wanted to sell?
What if someone different had bought the house when we sold it?
What if our first landlord hadn’t let us out of our contract?
It’s all just CRAZY!
I can’t help but think it’s miraculous. Even the seller, whom I had a good chat with over the weekend, called it a “God thing.” We talked about how strange and wonderful it is to have a sense of place, of home.
It feels like such a gift.
And we are overjoyed to be home.
So I guess this is the story of three wonderful homes during our time in Nashville, one of which we have a second chance to love again.
One more little story…The seller (who is a real estate agent herself) texted this to me the day we moved in about Madilyn’s lucky cup. I thought it was sweet: “You left the lucky dish at the house when we moved in. Since then, it has been in several of my listings for luck. I happened to have it in my car today and left it for you. I truly believe it is lucky.”