Five years ago, summer of 2006, I bought a house. On Nancy Avenue.
Well, more accurately, I mortagaged a house.
And then, two and half years ago, I moved out of that house.
This past Friday, I finally paid the last dollar I owed for it.
The Nancy House was a very hard lesson learned.
If I had a way to deliver a letter to my 2006-self. One that could spare her from making this decision. One that could save her unnecessary suffering.
This is what I'd say:
Remember the first time you saw the Nancy house? You were thinking "It's so small. It's so cute."
You'd been dreaming of a simpler life for a few years at that point. One without nannies and gardners and employees and snow. One where your husband loved you. One where just-the-three-of-us was enough.
You saw this house and you thought maybe ... just maybe... it would work.
Maybe this little house could save a marriage. Maybe with less room to roam, there would be conversations and laughter again. Maybe you could walk down to the water at night and watch the sunset. Maybe this would be the house that saved everything.
So you bought this house, because of a dream that you had. Not because you truly wanted it. You wanted the fantasy that you thought this house contained.
You didn't even think about renting. About trying out the new town. About seeing if there was any shred of love left.
You just dove in. As you normally do. Close your eyes and wish.
You gave 104,000 of your dollars before you even moved into this house. And leveraged your future for the rest.
For 30 months you paid. Not only in dollars. You paid in tears.
This was not the house that fixed everything.
This was the house where everything broke apart.
Your heart. Your marriage. Your future.
While you painted her bedroom and planted flowers and put in tiles and raked leaves.
While you sat at home and waited.
The value of houses began to free fall.
And the price of staying.
So you moved. And you sold the house.
The $104,000 was gone. So was the additional $139,921 that you paid into this dream.
And that still wasn't enough.
To get out would be another $25,500.
So, you borrowed more money.
From his step-mom.
And continued to pay on the house where your dreams fell apart. Where your life broke open.
But you knew it would be worth it. You knew you couldn't stay.
The day you left that house you knelt down on the floor in the empty kitchen. And cried.
And promised you would never do this again. Any of it.
And you walked out relieved that you'd never step foot in that house.
Let alone that neighborhood.
Except, the universe didn't exactly want to let you off that easy.
The following winter, he moved back into The House. With his new girlfriend. Into the house where your life broke apart.
And your daughter slept in the same room that you painted. And played in the flowers that you planted. Except you weren't there.
And now, you knock on your old door on Nancy to pick up your girl.
As you continue to pay that bill.
So, Meadow. I'd love to say that you shouldn't buy that house. That the price is too much. That the lesson is too hard.
I'd love to save you the heartache and the cash.
But, I'm going to tell you something that you couldn't possibly know.
The day you sent off the final payment was one of the greatest days of your life. You paid the loan off three years early.
You paid your financial debt.
You paid your emotional debt.
And you were free.
Free of the house.
Free of the fantasy.
Free of the pain.
You bought that house thinking that it would be the house that saved everything.
And it was.
All told you paid 270,262 in dollars and probably just as many tears. To find yourself.
Exactly as you should be.