I moved out of my rental home January 1. It was a great home for fifteen months. I moved in with my daughter and our pets in September 2018. It’s where we recovered after living in crisis mode for years.
After years of chaos, stress and conflict, everything came to a head early in 2018. My daughter almost died. I left her father. She stayed with him for a couple of months. I was exhausted and a wreck in every way – physically, emotionally, mentally. I’d spent five months on my own in a temporary rental working hard to regain some strength.
Moving into this rental home with my daughter was my reentry to life. It’s where we both recovered and grew stronger – independently and together. It’s where we rebuilt our relationship stronger and healthier than ever. We cried, yelled, laughed, dreamt, talked, ate, napped and danced together under that roof, enjoying a lightness and freedom we didn’t have when we lived with her father.
We packed a lot into fifteen months in that house! Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order:
Received my first tools, plunged my first toilet and had my first experiences with a landlord. I’d never rented before. I moved in with my ex-husband when I was just 20 and he already owned a house. He took care of most of the house stuff, which is one of the reasons I stayed in a toxic relationship so long – I didn’t think I could do take care of a home on my own. My friend bought me a tool kit when I moved in. Other friends broke them out to stop a leaky garbage disposal during a ladies only brunch.
Decorated exactly how I wanted. Lime green chaise, yellow chairs and floral ottoman all in one room? Sure! I surrounded myself with thrift store treasures that sparked joy.
Snuggled pets. It was hard finding a rental home that would accept my fur babies. The dogs and cat loved living in this house, too.
Celebrated holidays. Two of each: Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases and New Year’s Eves. I went out with friends on New Year’s Eve for the first time there.
Weathered some losses. My grandma died while I lived in the house. My daughter had a breakup and some shifting friendships. I also dealt with some relationship changes.
Made new friends. I really put myself out there. I joined two book clubs. Became a lady who brunches. Asked new people to grab coffee or tea and chat.
Discovered yoga. I started with a yoga class at the local brewery, then took other classes. I also set up a corner of my bedroom with a mat and prop to do home routines.
Got a bonus baby. My daughter’s friend moved in with us early in 2019. I then did everything as a mom of two teenage girls (and am still functioning that way, even though they’re both at college now). This rental home was the last place they lived as children before heading off to college.
Traveled. Cruised to Honduras where I held a monkey, saw the fall leaves in New England, went to a conference in Palm Springs, explored Atlanta, got my girl settled in her Texas dorm, had several weekends with Bestie Boo in Orlando.
Saw my girls off to homecoming and prom. They helped get me ready to go out several times, as well.
Hosted lots of teenagers. They kind of multiply. I loved having a home where they could hang with their friends.
Celebrated birthdays. Two for my daughter, one each for me and my bonus daughter. My daughter’s friend surprised her by filling her room with balloons for her birthday.
Perfected the art of the mirror selfie. Double walk-in closets with mirror doors = lots of full-length selfies. One of the closet doors was slightly off track, but best landlord sent someone over to fix it!
Hung with my friends. I invited people over to laugh, eat, play games and talk.
Grew herbs and vegetables. I became an indoor gardener thanks to Aerogarden! I grew herbs, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes! It was so fun growing and eating our own food.
Watched my daughter graduate. She went from almost dying to graduating high school and heading off to college in a little over a year! Amazing!
Hopped on a bike for the first time in years. Loved my aqua blue bike with the white basket!
Spent hours in the pool. I’d ride my bike a few laps around the neighborhood in the evenings and then swim laps in the community pool. It was the first time I had an exercise routine for more than a couple weeks in my whole life.
Watched hours of Netflix. I binged whole series. Shameless. Schitt’s Creek. You. Riverdale. Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. Working Moms. And so many others.
Hunkered down for a hurricane. Thankfully, it changed direction last minute. Being in a rental home instead of owning is great during hurricanes – much less stress about damages.
Lit candles. My ex-husband was against candles. I had them burning near-daily in this house.
Took baths. I’d never had a master bathroom with a tub before this house and what a giant, glorious tub it was! The tub was my favorite part of this rental home and it was one of the hadest parts to leave, despite taking a bad fall geting into it. I went through many bath bombs and bags of Epson salts.
Visited the ER. 2019 brought four ER visits! I had sudden shin pain with foot/ankle swelling that took me to the ER twice. Then I was there with a knee injury (which resulted in three months of physical therapy). Just a few weeks ago I had an allergic reaction to face cream and my whole face swelled up, which freaked the girls out so I let them drive me to the ER. I also frequented the walk-in clinic. I scratched my eye TWICE (and one of those resulted in two scratches on my eyeball at once!), got pink eye and had an allergic reaction to the pink eye meds.
Got my first tattoo. My daughter and I got matching arrow tattoos to symbolize moving forward. A few months later bonus daughter joined us and we all got blue butterflies to symbolize transition and new beginnings. I added frangipani flowers to mine as a tribute to the temporary rental I lived in when I first left my toxic marriage.
Became an empty nester. My girls went off to college in August. I just started adjusting to living alone when they came home for a week at Thanksgiving. They were with me for a month for winter break and helped me move. They just flew out yesterday.
I’m off to new adventures in 2020 (and beyond), but I left that rental home with a heart full of good memories and positive growth.