Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Five good years

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the day we purchased our home in Olney. Five years ago we were living in a townhouse in Gaithersburg, I was pregnant with our first child, and the housing market was at its peak. We knew we wanted to capitalize on the gains in the value of our townhouse to get a single-family home, as well as a little more space and quiet. We wanted to stay in Montgomery County, but we knew we could go anywhere.

We chose Olney.

I remember the moment we pulled into the not-yet-ours driveway to look through the house we now live in. The sun was low in the sky and the whole street looked golden. Two or three families were chatting in the middle of the street, and I remember thinking, what a lovely quiet street. It must receive so little traffic if everyone just gathers in the middle like that.

We walked through the home and thought it might be just want we want. We had one other home in mind, one in Rockville, and every feature in this house was compared in our minds against the Rockville address.

This one had a bigger yard. That one had a bigger bathtub. This one had a longer commute. That one had a more congested neighborhood. This one cost more, but that one needed a lot more work. We walked through the rooms again and again, thinking, is this the one? Which house is right for us?

We walked outside in the summer dusk and one of the adults from the conversation on the street called over to us. "So are you going to be our new neighbors?"

"I don't know," I called back. "Should we be?"

"For this street, you have to have kids!" called a second person, gesturing to the crew on bicycles and scooters and blowing bubbles in the last light.

I pointed to my rounding belly. "Four more months," I called out. "We'll have one soon."

"So buy the house!" yelled a third prospective neighbor. "You'll love it here!"

And we did. The strangers who encouraged the most hope-fueled purchase we've ever made are now our friendly neighbors. We had that first baby and added another two kids and we finished the basement. We took out some tree limbs and we chatted over fence posts and bubbles, now blown by our own babes, floating into sunsets.

There's a house down the hill at the end of our street that's for sale now. If we saw any prospective buyers looking about, I'd tell them:

Buy the house. You'll love it here.

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