And sometimes you close your eyes
And see the place where you used to live
When you were young
- ‘The Killers’, from their song ‘When You Were Young’
No matter who actually owns the place you live in, memories associated with it stay on and peek out from the hidden recesses of our minds long after. My old blog post titled ‘Sunshine‘ talked about how the hubby and I enjoyed mornings in the spacious living room of our one-bedroom rental apartment. Perhaps a few years later, we’ll still be reminiscing about happy times spent in that small but comfortable place.
When we decided to buy a house a few months ago it had not much to do with space. The decisions leaned more on saving rent money and the practical aspect of financial investment. The story of buying our first home in the US is luckily a short one. We spent only about two and a half to three months looking at potential houses. The weekends buzzed past as we set out on house hunting expeditions. Then one fine day, our agent took us to an open house that made us say, “this is it!” Not far from the downtown area, a lovely corner townhouse with a small backyard and one additional enticing aspect – its location right opposite a lively public park. Our family members also took a look at it and gave it further stamps of approval. Now came the hardest part – entering the bidding competition for this prize.
And bid well we did, coming up with the best offer that we could afford. We lost, coming in a close second. “Oh well”, we said, “our house is still waiting for us” and continued to look at other options. We were going to make an offer for another one when the agent informed us that the original buyer had backed out and since we had signed on as first back-ups, the house could be ours!
We were happy about it no doubt, but the actual excitement came only later. First, we got busy with arranging our finances, applying for a loan, doing all the paperwork and going over all the practical details. In the contract the previous owners, a young family of four, had requested a couple of months time to look for a new house of their own even after the title was transferred to us. We also faced a gap of two weeks in between moving out from our old rental place to our own new one because the apartment building had to be evacuated due to renovation work. So we stayed with our family in the meantime.
Finally, it was time! We visited our new house in the evening after the previous owners had emptied it. It had been apparent even before that they had taken loving care of the residence. Now the place was bare and clean. On the mantlepiece above the fireplace stood a small envelope addressed to my husband and I. Inside was a ‘thank you’ greeting card with flowers in the shape of a heart, in which were the following words:
“Thank you for being the ones to choose our (and yours now) home. We wish you both many happy memories in this house. We imagine you will enjoy living near the downtown and the park. Peace + many blessings to you both!”
We had never met the husband-wife duo and had only exchanged some emails with them before. Those few heartfelt words in a simple thank you note touched us deeply and gave a warm glow to this event of stepping into our new home. Also, isn’t the power of the the written word truly admirable? It can travel across space and time to touch a chord with strangers!
We are settling in and still setting up the place slowly. The farmer’s market in the downtown on Sundays offers fresh produce and the street bustles with dinnertime activity at upscale restaurants on evenings. On weekends the park becomes packed with revelers at picnic tables. Running along the path under redwood trees that allow shafts of golden evening light to filter through on to the green grass below is a refreshing sight. And just like the card said, memories are being made as we look out into the patio at the star-shaped jasmine flowers that bloom on the vines draped over the fence and at the delicate pink mimosa clusters on the tree branches swaying gently in the breeze.