When Jake and I started looking for our first home we were all over the place. We looked at tiny foreclosures with gutted kitchens. We looked at 20’s charmers with grand fireplaces and claw foot tubs. We looked at newer construction with a train running through the backyard. I fluctuated between wanting a bargain investment to wanting the home we would grow old in. Our poor realtor. She was and is a personal friend and I feel like apologizing once a year for looking at so many properties but ultimately putting our search on hold. Sigh.
Fast forward two years later – Jake graduated and his first job offer was for a school in a little town called Cloverdale near the Oregon coast. I had never heard of Cloverdale and housing was incredibly tight. With three little ones and a fourth on the way, we couldn’t find a rental that would fit all of us and our budget. After four yeas of college and babies, we had zero money for first, last, plus deposit, let alone a moving truck. Jake spent that first week in Cloverdale camping near the beach so he could go to work while I stayed in Eugene with the kids. I didn’t want to spend the next few months separated, so we did what anyone else would do who couldn’t afford to rent an apartment. We bought a house.
USDA, zero down home mortgages were alive and well, and while we didn’t have a penny in our bank account, we had good credit. Even with nearly maxed out credit cards, we had excellent credit. There were exactly three homes for sale in Cloverdale at the time, but only one was an option. On the outside, it was a kind of storybook home – a white, two-story farmhouse surrounded by a wall of rhododendrons, scores of tulips, peonies and hydrangeas, and a creek running through the back. The inside had endless potential, but owners in the 70’s had done a number on the place which included green shag carpet and popcorn ceilings. I almost cried when I was told they ripped out the box window seat and crown molding. Since I was in Eugene with the kids, I only saw pictures, but Jake said I would love it. So we put in an offer and 34565 Parkway Drive was ours.
The next two years were kind of tough for all of us. We were a young family, with four kids under five, and no family or friends around. The late summer and fall on the Oregon coast can be spectacular, but the rest of the year was wet and dreary and felt a world away from our former life. Still, our home held us. Our kitchen table nourished us and fostered our conversations. The walls would shake during the coastal thunder storms, and the rain pound on our metal roof. It was too much for the kids sleeping upstairs, so we would all pile on the couches together in the living room. We did everything we could to bring the bones of that house back to life – removed the popcorn ceilings and shag carpet, refinished the wood floors hiding underneath. We even took on the kitchen in a very novice DIY sort of way. We became a family in that house, and that house became our first, real home.
We left Cloverdale six months ago, and we are loving our new town of Mt. Angel; so much so, that we don’t see ourselves going back to Cloverdale in the future. It is a hard thing to let our home go, with all the love and memories created there, but we have decided to do just that. In a few weeks we will be putting it on the market. Hoping someone will love it just as much as we did…maybe even more.