Like many great modern-day love stories, this one began online.
“Check this place out,” my fiancé wrote in an e-mail one day.
And there it was: three bedrooms and 2½ baths near a commuter rail stop. A neighborhood (we had always wanted neighbors). A cul-de-sac (maybe someday we’d have kids). A spacious yard (maybe I could learn to like gardening?). It was ideal. We tried not to get too excited. After all, we hadn’t even seen it in person yet. How could we fall in love online? It was all happening too fast.
We contacted a real estate agent and made an appointment to see The House. It was a yellow Colonial, and I don’t think I ever realized until I stepped foot inside it, but I had always wanted to live in a yellow house. It was perfect, and within days, it was ours.
The house was empty when we bought it. The previous owners had been gone about six months, but the pictures from the online listing had been taken when the house was full of their furniture. We loved every room. The dramatic dark red walls in the formal sitting room with the grand piano, the screened-in gazebo attached to the back porch, the whimsical purple and lavender diamond-shaped-painted walls in the playroom.
The house was move-in ready, and we wouldn’t need to change anything.
Within weeks, the purple diamonds had lost their charm.
“I feel like I am going to have a seizure every time I look at the walls in there,” I said to my now husband.
“I know,” he replied. “We need to get on that.”
And so we painted over the purple diamonds with a subtle shade of beigey-green. We chose curtains to match and furnished the room with the dining room set that had been a wedding gift from my dad and brother.
The dramatic dark red walls were the next to go. Without the grand piano, they didn’t have the same effect. Our first-born daughter was crawling now, and she needed a playroom, so we painted over the blood-red with a light shade of blue, got a wall unit to house her toys, and replaced the standard light fixture with an airplane chandelier.
When we learned that our second daughter was on the way, we turned what had been the guest room into her space, painting the white walls a cheery shade of yellow and buying yet another crib (our first daughter wasn’t old enough to vacate hers), bureau, and changing table.
Our house today looks totally different from those pictures posted online almost eight years ago.
The gazebo we had thought was so lovely actually filled with pollen each spring and blocked most of the light from coming into the kitchen, so my husband knocked it down one morning several years ago — it took less than an hour.
The third floor, which had been a teen suite, is now a home office and workout room.
I never did learn to garden.
The only thing that changed more than the house was us: from engaged couple to family of four, from renters to owners, from a couple without any real responsibility to a pair of real grown-ups, with all the obligations and accountability that entails. And yet, it’s still the yellow house I always wanted, the place that was meant to be ours, our first home, and the singular place our daughters will always remember as home.
It is now, and will always remain, just perfect.
Laura Shea Souza, a writer, lives
in Stow. Send comments and a 600-word essay on your first home to Address@globe.com. Please note: We do not respond to submissions we will not pursue.