Yes, I know. It’s just a house. It’s not even a fancy house…not really…not by the standards of most. It’s moderate. But, it has been mine, a haven, a place that I have loved and enjoyed. So it is only a house…but it has been my home. And now I am leaving it. Not because I want to. With no job, no resources, no reserves whatsoever, my options are limited to a couple of paths. Sell the house, hope to get enough to pay off the mortgage and to pay off my debts…or declare bankruptcy. So I’m going to try to sell the house. And pray it sells. For a reasonable price. I built this house in 2002, moving in mid-March of that year. It was a dream in my head that became reality. I had lots of options then and every one was carefully considered, lovingly selected. Yes, there were many things I couldn’t afford to do. Things that I wanted to do badly. But you make choices. So I upgraded the carpet and pad to top of the line instead of putting in hardwood floors. I upgraded the AC unit since the builder prohibited going outside to buy my own. I opted for a three car garage instead of the standard two. Went all brick. Did bullnose corners and arched doorways, but I couldn’t do the wainscoting I dreamed of for the dining room. I wanted stone coins on the exterior corners, but had to settle for the same brick that was used on the rest of the house. I picked the tile (an upgrade) for the laundry room, kitchen and entry, but decided not to spring for tile in the bathrooms. I wanted better counter tops, but had to live with the Formica offered. I did, however, find a great pattern and I did have them leave the edges wood and bevel the corners to make it look classier. And I added a tile back-splash. I extended the master bedroom closet. I had them put the water heater in the garage to free up a closet by the master bedroom for linens. I had the ceilings upped to 10 ft. throughout and opted for crown molding in 3 of the rooms. Built a tray ceiling in the office. And I put bay windows in the master bedroom and breakfast nook. Structurally, I turned the laundry room into a safe room. Still a working laundry room, but with massively thick concrete walls reinforced with re-bar, this was a sturdy shelter during those times when there were tornadoes in the area. I had them build 6 inch walls instead of 4 inches so insulation with a higher R value could be added to the walls. I also put insulation in the walls of the garage. I really wanted to upgrade the windows, but there was only so much money available. So I settled for the gas filled tilting double-hung windows the builder offered. But I went behind the builder and added additional caulk to each window to make sure they were sealed as tightly as possible. I also added another 10 ft. to the patio, though I couldn’t afford to cover it. But having a 1/2 covered, 1/2 open patio area created a very nice outdoor area. Coupled with the location; a cul de sac with a creek behind and a greenbelt, the yard was private, inviting and peaceful. The privacy fence extended across the front and sides of the yard, but the back was a shorter, more open version so I could enjoy the trees and greenbelt view that the lot afforded. Afterward, I replaced the furnace, the one the builder wouldn’t allow me to upgrade, with a high energy-efficient top of the line model. And I replaced the 15 year roof with a 30 year, nicer looking one. I got to pick the wallpaper, the paint colors, the light fixtures, ceiling fans, carpet color, brick color, appliances, cabinet stain, where electrical outlets would be located (I added a bunch extra) and added old-timey Delta faucets that I purchased and gave to the builder to install. Each and every option was lovingly selected. Eagerly anticipated. It all came together into this home that I have loved. A little dream come true. Not a massive, expensive, take-your-breath-away house, but a very nice one that was energy efficient and strong. Two of my dearly loved little Miniature Schnauzers (Kelley and Maddie) are buried here in this yard. People have commented that it must be sad for me to still live here. Because, you see, when I built this house, I was still married. But in truth, we only lived here a year before he told me he had fallen in love with another woman and wanted out. So the memories of him being here…well, there aren’t many. And the building, the options, the dreams…they were mine and not his. It is my home. This place that is just a house. I even refinanced so only my name was on the mortgage. To make it all mine. I have started packing. Even though I have nowhere to go. I know I will be leaving…very soon. As I put my nick-knacks into labeled boxes, the tears fall. Because I remember, I remember so clearly the excitement, the joy, the delight that I had as this house rose on an empty lot, took form and became what I had envisioned in my head. I had so much hope when I built this house. I still believed in a future. Now all hope is gone. And the future I dreamed of didn’t rise from the emptiness the way I had visualized. It didn’t turn out the way I imagined, taking shape as I selected each option and made each decision. Instead, I have lost it all. It has burned to the dirt and there is nothing left but ashes. I successfully built a house, a home, but I failed to build a life here on this lot, this little patch of earth on which I was allowed to stand. For too short of a time. Soon, I will close the door for the final time, relinquishing the keys, letting go of the last vestiges of my dreams. I will leave them, broken , shattered, laying on the floor of this home I have loved, that was lovingly built, this place that has sheltered me for 12 years. I will walk away with nothing as I lock the door and move down the steps to my car, the only thing I own…alone.