It was 6 hours from where we once lived to the area where we were moving. Just long enough for our butts to become numb but not so long that we were antsy, thankfully. We’d nervously planned our first official weekend of house hunting with our new realtor on the east end of town. Neither of us knew what to expect as we approached the interstate into town, navigating our way in the dark to our hotel and home-away-from-home for the next several weekends. I wonder if the staff at the Hampton Inn ever knew what we were doing there every weekend.
I remember asking my husband what the name of the town was. “Schertz,” he said. I remember crinkling my nose as I whispered it to myself, thinking it was such a strange name. Schertz, pronounced like “Shirts.” I didn’t know I would eventually call that funny name home.
Our hotel beds were like refuge for our weary bodies during our lengthy, harried stays. All the driving, all the hustle and bustle of home tours, inspections, our poor realtor was giving us the speedy tour of town faster than our brains could process. It never occurred to us how many houses we saw or where we even were until much later, after we’d learned the lay of the land ourselves. Some of the houses we didn’t settle on became sudden happy memories when we’d pass them by, or accidentally drive by it on our way somewhere important. “Remember that house?” we’d say, like it was yesterday.
I didn’t realize that Hampton Inn would end up 5 minutes from the house we’d eventually purchase. My hands shook when we signed our names on the dotted line and officially became homeowners. We had settled on this house, it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t what we wanted in our laundry list of wants and must haves, but it was open, unoccupied, brand new, and available in our hurried deadline. We just didn’t know how perfect it was.
As we near the close of our San Antonio chapter of the Army, I find myself often reflecting back over our three years here, completely in denial that time has passed that quickly. I can still remember that first night arriving at the hotel so clearly. Has it really been three years? Are we really leaving today?
This house has become another family member to us. I never knew I could feel this way about a house. It is ours.. our home. We own it. It’s a Douglas home. I don’t know how to leave it alone, with some other family in it, like a baby, all alone in the world while we live in some other house that’s not ours, loaned to us by the Army for two years.
I cleaned the kitchen after dinner last week and found myself mindlessly scrubbing the cabinet doors with my rag, crying buckets of tears knowing it was all going to change. Military moves are hard, but this one is seemingly the absolute hardest, ever.
Last Wednesday was the last night with our things where they belonged, because the next day the packers came, boxed everything up, took our family pictures and decor down, and our walls became glaringly bare. We endured a weekend of boxed-up living, and yesterday, the moving truck drove off with all those boxes, furniture, and memories, leaving us with our full suitcases, a few boxes of bedding, personal care items, and our mattresses. Today, everything changes. Today we drive away from the life we’ve built and known for the last three years for a last military adventure.
Recently, I kept drinking in the night air, the sunrise and sunsets, because you just don’t get ‘em any prettier than you do here in Texas. I kept savoring the HEB Peanut Butter Dots and real Texas salsa, because we won’t have ‘em around anymore. (Side note: do you think HEB would send me a care package once a month until I’m home again?)
I keep wishing we’d done more, seen more, experienced more. (Can I go back in time?) I’ve never been good at goodbyes, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it this time, either.
I’m so nervous about this whole process – about the renters, and the property managers. I know they mean well, but I’m afraid they have no idea what this house and space has meant and does mean to us, the stories and memories these walls hold, or that they’ll be living in our sacred, one-of-a-kind, meant-for-us house.
Goodbye for now, house. Thank you for three wondrous years within your walls. Be good to the new occupants. We’ll miss you so much.