When James and I met, he had a lease that expired at the end of August 2000, and I had a lease that was month-to-month. After about 3 months, we agreed that we would talk about possibly moving in together after 6 months. By the end of 4 months, we were pretty much living together; I officially moved in with him after 6 months.
He had a small one bedroom apartment and when his lease was up, we moved into a much bigger two bedroom apartment in a complex our friends lived in. In March of 2001, they bought a house. We had never even talked about getting a house; now he wanted one too. Since I was the one who paid our bills, I thought we couldn't afford it. We had a lot of problems with the apartment and the front office and so we knew we wouldn't be renewing our lease and would have to find a new place to live before our lease was up in September. So, we decided that we would look into getting a condo and then after a few years upgrading to a house. The next thing I knew, we had a realtor, a mortgage broker and a pre-approval letter for $150,000. Eight years later, I am still wondering how that happened!
As we started looking around at houses, we made a deal: if we did buy a house, the garage would be for the cars, not storage. A novel idea, I know. It turns out we were full of novel ideas. In July 2001, we bought our first house-a cute 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch-style home with a 2-car garage. And we stayed true to our pact-the cars were parked in the garage.
Of course, having lived in apartments, we didn't have a lot of garage "stuff," but there was some that was being kept in boxes. Finally one day after we had been in the house for almost 2 years, I decided to unpack those boxes. A few months later, we moved to Arizona.
We spent the first 7 months living in an apartment, with most of our stuff in boxes in the garage, but we were still able to park the cars in there too. After that, we bought a house and once again, everything but the garage was unpacked. Finally, after we had been there for about a year and a half, I resigned myself to the fact we were never going home and unpacked the garage. A few months later, we moved back to Washington.
For the past 3 1/2 years, I have been afraid to unpack the garage. I love our house and I was afraid if I unpacked the garage, we would move again. I felt we had one more move in us before we were done, and we had been talking about buying a piece of property and within 5 years building our dream home. We were even talking about what features the house would have. But even with this on the horizon and seemingly in the future, I still wouldn't unpack the garage.
A few months ago, I went out for dinner and (really awful) karaoke with a friend. When we got back to my house, he asked if I had always parked on the left side of the garage. I thought it was a random question, but just answered that in this house, yes, I had always parked on the left. I did not tell my friend this, but there is a short post on the right side in front of the water heater and given my lack of depth perception, James was afraid I would run into the post and damage my car. He was probably right, and it probably would have happened more than once.
From time to time as I have pulled in the garage, I have wondered why my friend wanted to know if I had always parked on the left side of the garage, so I finally asked him, thinking there might be some deep psychological inferiority of the left side vs. the right side thinking behind it. He said it was because I had something bulky (leftovers) that I was trying to get out of the car and it seemed to him that it would be easier for me to get things out of the car if I parked on the other side of the garage. I told him that I didn't usually have a passenger and usually just put everything in the passenger seat, but I could see his point. I also said, "of course, I could just unpack the garage, and then I wouldn't have to maneuver around the boxes."
So there it was: after 3 1/2 years, I was toying with unpacking the garage. Three weeks ago, I finally broke down and did it. It looks great, and it is much easier to get things out of my car now. But this also comes at a time when I feel I am at a crossroads. I have been feeling lately that I need to keep moving forward-that I need a fresh start. And I don't know if I can do that in OUR home. Plus, now that my social (for lack of a better term) calendar has come to a screeching halt, I am realizing just how big and empty and lonely this house is with just me and two small end of medium sized dogs in it. So, I am considering selling the house and moving into something smaller. But I don't know if I can walk away from a house James picked out for me either. I really do love this house and there is still so much of him here, beyond the material possessions. I don't know that I can give that up; I don't know if I can truly move forward until I do either. And of course, there is the economy to consider. So, I have a tough decision to make: do I break the unpacking the garage "curse" and stay put, or do I continue the "tradition" and sell the house? I think in my heart I already know the answer. And I think those who really know me do too.