Last night when I went to bed, I still owned a home in Tennessee. This morning when I woke up, I didn’t.
Oh, this house that was the bane of our existence even while we lived in it (e.g., the lightning strike, the chlorine flood, the sewage spill, among many, many other things) has continued to be a source of stress even after we moved 4,000 miles away.
When we put it on the market back in February, it showed so well with the renovations and new furniture we’d bought just months before (not realizing we’d be moving overseas) that we had a contract on it in two weeks. At our realtor’s advice, we agreed to a contract with a 60-day close and allowing the buyer to procure a business license for the sale to go through. This was one instance where we should have followed our own instincts. The buyer wasn’t able to obtain the license he wanted and the deal fell through two days before closing, after we had waited 60 days and sold everything inside the house. We were devastated. The house went back on the market, but with only two weeks left in the US, we knew there was no way we’d be moving away with all our loose ends tied up before we left.
Without any furniture inside to make the house look like a home, this time around it took a good bit longer to go under contract, and after it did, there were multiple hiccups further delaying the sale. So we’ve spent the last four months trying to juggle bills in two different countries and making sure someone was handling our home’s regular upkeep from what feels like the other side of the world.
These are the sort of things you come to expect as an expat. I have yet to hear anyone’s story that went perfectly from start to finish. There is always something. This home was our something…but not anymore. Someone else has the keys (and the responsibility) now. And by this evening, our extra parcel of land should also be under new ownership. Ends officially tied.
With all that said, the only thing I should be feeling right now is relief, and to some extent I do, but I also feel a little wistful. I didn’t get a proper goodbye – no final walk through of the house to imprint the memories made there into my mind, no dangling my legs in the creek one last time before we signed the papers. At just a few months shy of three years, this home has been the place we’ve lived the longest as a family, and it’s pretty safe to say that a part of me will always be there.
But it’s someone else’s house to fill with memories now, which gives us the freedom to fully embrace this new chapter of our lives. We are just expats now, not expats that still have a home in their home country. There will be no more questioning whether we were meant to keep the house for our eventual return to the US
when we’re 80. And no more ties, at least of the legal variety, keeping us bound to a particular place. A little less looking back, and a good bit more looking forward. It’s about time.