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Tuesday December 21, 2004 // By Sandy

Season one: Fall '04

Today’s the first day of winter. We moved in on the first day of fall, and since a guy like me can’t pass up that kind of symmetry, I figure it’s time for a recap. Consider this the start of a seasonal tradition. If you find this kind of thing tedious, feel free to ignore it, just like you do with those other year-in-review holiday cards you’re always getting from distant branches of the extended family.

The first weeks in our new home was defined by an overwhelming feeling of foreignness. Even though we had the papers and the keys to prove it, it didn’t seem like this was actually our home. It felt like a rental property—and that its proper owners would come home to reclaim it at any time. And boy were they going to be pissed about all the painting and sanding we did to their walls.

That sensation slowly faded as our residence lenghtened and no one came by to kick us out. Instead, we learned that condo ownership presents an unexpected dorm-like comraderie among the small clan of owners in a building. This, too, eventually faded from its initial surge, but that’s mostly because of the downward turn of the weather, and the lessening liklihood of people leaving their backdoors open. We still see our neighbors on occasion, but mostly through the window of our kitchen, as they’re hurrying down the back stairs to their cars. The comraderie is still there, and it’s always a delight when the precocious four-year-old on the third floor will stop by our window and dictate the itinerary of the errand run she’s about to take with her mom.

We didn’t waste anytime in putting the apartment through its paces as a hosting venue. Since moving in we’ve had several dinner parties, a few game nights and birthdays, three houseguests, a nine-person Thanksgiving and a housewarming/open house. In our search for a condo we specifically sought out places that would let us feed that entertaining gene (which we both acquired from our parents). So far, the new place has more than lived up to the task.

A fortuante side benefit of of all this entertaining is that each new event has caused us to confront another unfinished aspect of the home—unpacking, decorating, buying a rug—and given us a deadline by which to get those tasks completed. If it weren’t for our need to have people over, I’m sure we’d still be digging through boxes to find underwear and Cheerios.

One of those de facto deadlines was to get our new place a name before housewarming. After much brainstorming, the final name came to me in a daydream while driving back to Chicago from Indy over Thanksgiving weekend. I spelled it out to Sarah, and immediately it clicked. It seems to have gotten a good reception by our guests—at least by our friends that appreciate recursive acronyms—but the real test is to see if our friends continue to use it. I’ll get back to you about that after another season or two.

Someone recently asked if the act of cutting our mortgage checks evoked the fulfillment that is so often promised to come with homeownership. I’m not sure it works that way for us. The fulfillment comes in other, smaller details: knowing that we can put holes in the wall and not have to worry about answering to someone else’s rules; hearing strange noises from the radiators, and knowing that solving that problem, while difficult, is totally up to us; discovering a flood under the sink and then watching my girl break out the Schneid. It’s the challenge combined with the responsibility. When I consider how well the first three months have gone, I can’t wait to see what future seasons have in store.

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