There are strangers wandering through my house right now.
Growing up, I was never that kid who can't wait to graduate high school and get out of town. Far from it, actually; even when I was young, I always liked living in Troy. I realized I'd have to leave in order to go to college, though, and I had no idea what would happen or where life would take me after that. As I spent time away, Troy called to me more and more. I didn't know when I'd be able to do it (even assuming that "not until retirement" was a possibility), but I knew I wanted to get back there, to make it my home again.
As it turned out, it happened way sooner than I ever thought it would or could. Brandi and I got married while she was in grad school, and as she approached graduation, her most appealing job opportunity was in Huber Heights, a very short drive from Troy. I assumed we'd look for a place in Huber, or in one of several towns close to both, but Brandi (who was the one who would have to do the driving--I was able to continue in my own job, telecommuting from wherever we ended up) was cool with living in Troy. We rented a duplex; then, after two years, when our lease was up, we bought a house.
Like getting away from my hometown as soon as possible, home ownership was not something I ever really aspired to. I didn't want the hassle of worrying about maintenance, be it interior or (especially) exterior. A yard? Please. What made us decide to do it, in the end, was mostly just that we wanted to live in a building of our own, without always hearing our neighbors go about their daily activities or having to worry about them being able to hear us (especially given that I'm a night owl by inclination, and I also like loud music).
So we bought a house, and while it turned out that home ownership was just as much of a pain in the ass as I always assumed it would be (mowing? raking? replacing a water heater? ugh), there are some compensations. We could have a pet, for one thing (we actually got Luna while we still lived in the duplex, but it was an illicit sort of thing), and that's one of the best things we've ever done. And we could do what we wanted or needed to do without permission or arrangement from a landlord. Paint a wall a crazy color? Done, done, and done. Need a new dishwasher? Just go get one. We've lived in our house for over four years now, and while there are still some irritations from ownership, I've grown pretty attached to the house itself, particularly the patio, and my office.
Still, living in Troy these past six years hasn't been entirely what I expected, and I don't even know exactly what I mean by that. I do know, for one thing, that despite the fairly large number of family and friends I have in town (or the general area), I rarely see any of them besides my parents, despite good intentions. I also rarely have time to get out and see or do some of the things that give Troy its particular flavor, again despite good intentions. And sometimes I just feel like I've never completely wrapped my head around the fact that we live here.
So now, about a month ago, Brandi got a new job. It's in the Columbus area--Worthington--so it's not exactly a commutable distance, at least not on a long-term basis. That being the case, our house is on the market, and when it sells we'll be leaving Troy behind and setting up shop in a new location, one where, while we're both at least somewhat familiar, neither of us has ever lived.
In fact, the first showing of our house is tonight, right now, which is what I was referring to above. With Brandi out of town for work, I spent last night and a little bit of today getting the house ready for strangers to walk through and appraise it. It's a strange feeling, at least for me--trying to see the place through someone else's eyes, and to try to get it as neat as possible with the realization that we still have to live there in the meantime and can't just stuff everything in a closet or drawer, or relegate it to the shed. It's a fine line, and it's also disconcerting to not be there when other people are, and also to have to leave Luna behind.
At any rate, leaving Troy again is going to be bittersweet. Although it hasn't been what I thought it would be, that doesn't mean I don't love living here, because I do. And as I said, I have come to love our house, if not to be 100% thrilled with owning it. So moving will be an adventure, for all of us (probably Luna most of all--the only places she's ever been since we adopted her are the duplex, our house, and the vet's office). I'm looking forward to exploring a new locale and making a life there, and new adventures with friends we already have in the area as well as any who come visit, as well as new ones we'll make. I'm looking forward to finding a cool apartment where we can live for a year or two while we learn the area and decide if we want to buy another house. Mostly, I'm looking forward to having it over with--if we could fast forward past selling the house and moving all our stuff, that would be fantastic.
Oh, and for those of you who like stopping by for my recaps of Troy football games, worry not--attending them is still on the agenda, despite the move. It'll be a longer drive to get to them, but that's never stopped me before. That's one thing I've missed about being away from Troy, actually--the long drives on Friday evenings were always good for clearing my mind.