life, parenting

Hello. Goodbye. Thoughts on turning a chapter.

We put our house on the market three months ago, never thinking it would really sell. The market! It’s awful! We heard nightly on the news in ominous tones. We did some research. They’re right. Each year we wanted to move and each year these dire warnings held us back. Finally we went with the motto that guides me in most of my life if you try you’re not guarunteed to succeed but if you don’t try you’re guarunteed to fail and decided to see what would happen. The worst case scenario? We stayed right where we were. With a roof over our head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Not so bad in the global scheme of things. Our sign broke the first week. We never put it back up. That’s how little we thought our chances were for actually moving our property.

Until someone called. And came twice. I baked cookies. Swept and mopped. And waited.

Can you move out in thirty days? They asked.

Sure, I responded.


Wait. What?

It’s easy to promise things when you don’t actually think anything is going to happen, but I am now on the other end making good on a promise I didn’t think I’d be asked to keep. With days left to go we just today leased a place in the heart of the city’s most charming section and are packing an entire house and doing all that’s involved in moving out of a house I lived in for 7.5 years.

I love my house. The mexican tiles. The chestnut hardwoods we installed just this Spring. It was warm. It was comfortable. But it was so far away from the city. Burdening us with long commutes and distance from the rich culture and vibrant walkable communities I’ve longed for ever since I experienced it on the streets of Brazil. I don’t love living in the South. I wondered, if I lived closer to Atlanta’s pulsing heart, would I be happier with my adopted city?

Since life is of finite quantity, we decided not to wait any longer to try and find out.

Though we made this decision carefully, considering it from all angles, now that what we hoped for is here I wonder: how do I say goodbye to my house? This is where I cooked meals for family and friends, where we kicked back and smoked sheesha into the late hours of the night lounging on floor cushions, eating far too many brownies, and contemplating the meaning of life [Though I think those sorts of moments are the meaning of life]. This is where I brought my son home from the hospital and watched him smile, laugh, crawl and take his first steps. That hill out back? It’s my hill. The walk-in closet? It’s mine.

But it’s not. Not for long anyways. Once we sign the papers, to so much as tiptoe without consent on the grass we laid down as sod with our own bare hands will [technically] constitute trespass. That’s weird to wrap my mind around. To want something, to be so thankful and joyful about it– and yet to feel tears of the sad sort spill down your face just the same.

Change is never easy for me, even when the change promises good things like a toddler park down the street, and a Pilates studio, co-op garden, weekly local farmer markets, coffee, the post office, library, cafes and book shops and well pretty much everything just steps away from my front door. And the neighbors? I heard they stop and say hello.

It’s what I’ve always wanted.

And while I feel a cornucopia of emotions– its mostly happy. Mostly hopeful.

We’re moving Sunday. Closing Monday.

And we’re downsizing from 2400 square feet to approximately 800.

Close quarters? Um. Yeah. Kind of.[More on that later]. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers [since nothing is certain until it is] as we inch closer to the end of an era stepping foot into what is entirely unknown but filled with glimmers of hope for goodness to come.

35 thoughts on “Hello. Goodbye. Thoughts on turning a chapter.”

  1. Good luck! Moving isn't easy. But it's interesting you are taking the step now. Most people move out of the city and into the burbs when they have kids (for the bigger space and the green lawns).



  2. InshAllah it will be a great move!I know it's bittersweet, but focus on the good. Sounds like there is a lot of good to look forward to. You don't be in the same place to still have those memories. You will always carry those with you, no one can take those away. So congrats! InshAllah you will find a new home soon. 🙂


  3. Thanks Rasha 🙂 Having Waleed is what has made the desire to move into the city stronger than ever. I want him to be able to go to the zoo, children's museums, etc etc and to be around people who are liberal and open-minded etc and so while we are giving up space etc I hope we can make up for it with the culture we can give him. BUT all that being said, that's why we're renting– to see 🙂 [that's a forthcoming post for sure]

    Jamila, your words are like a warm hug, thanks so much!!!!!


  4. Oh, I get the stress you were talking about…
    It is a change, a big one. But then you get used to all things different, and the new turns into familiar and you will remember fondly your former life while enjoying your current one.
    Best of luck. And when it gets so awful you wish you were somewhere else, remember that this too shall pass and you will be soon done with all the moving stuff.


  5. Reminds me of when we left our first house. It was not a nice house–it was old (and not in a charming way), it gave us fits, it had the world's dumbest lawn, and we weren't crazy about the location — basically, it was about as unlovable of a house as you could get. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few tears shed when we stood in it for the last time, knowing that when we walked out and closed the door that was it–we'd never walk through it again. When all was said and done, it was OUR house, warts and all, and leaving it was surprisingly bittersweet.

    Anyway, we got over it quickly as we started to enjoy sweet in-town living! Hopefully you'll experience the same! 🙂


  6. Change is stressful. Take it one day (or minute) at a time and b r e a t h e. Leaving your home, wrapped up in memories as it is, is bittersweet. Accept the sadness mixed with both the joy at and apprehension of the new.

    I pray that this year in the center of the neighborhood you love is a beautiful one. And I can't wait to see you soon In SF!

    Love to you,


  7. SO interesting to see you post this because I feel like Hasan and I (mostly me) are on the opposite side– we currently rent in the city, but I crave more room and the plan is to move to the burbs when we iA start a family. I love the city– really I do. But here in Chicago (and almost every big city), real estate is SO expensive! It's hard to stomach getting a small condo in the city vs a bona fide house further out. It's a struggle, though. We love walking everywhere, taking the train, exploring, but I still think a house (and a garage! lol) are going to win out at some point.
    PS also a big sticking point is the school issue– if we stay in the city, we either have to live in a posh area where public schools are good (and we can't afford a place) or a less pricey area, with ok schools, and have to worry about the $$ for private schooling (which also not sure we could afford if it's upwards of 20k annually, like what i've heard). Ack. so much to think about!
    but ANYWAY, MUBARAK and enjoy your new place. Jamila is right– the memories stay with you, not the house 🙂 I hope you love your new home!!!


  8. Oh congratulations on finding a place you are looking forward to leasing in the city! Yay! But yeah, it IS hard. It's hard to leave a place you love even if it's no longer the right place for you. Here's hoping that this WILL be the right place, and you can look back on W's first house with nostalgia and gratefulness, but with the understanding that your NEW house is SO MUCH BETTER!


  9. Thanks for relating Kmina, I found it interesting when I read your post about your happiness of moving to the suburbs where you could get local organic foods etc etc— that stuff is not that way here where I live. Here the organic stuff, the neighborhood vibes etc are more in the city than outside the city. Strange!

    Cylinda, so beautifully stated. I love my house too, warts and all. I hope like you I quickly adjust once I'm in the place I think I'll want to live for a long time to come. Can't wait to be your 'neighbor' 🙂

    Thanks Leigh Ann! Lets see if this is my destiny! 🙂


  10. Thanks Mystic 🙂

    Baraka, so well said, let myself just feel the sadness the joy and anticipation and not try to compartmentalize. This is a big thing and it doesn't fit into one nice place. Can't wait to see you too 🙂


  11. Thanks Kate! this is the first time we're hiring movers, hoping it will help things out quite a bit!!I hate moving too its been a long while!

    Simeen, I hear you, it does feel like going backwards in some ways, but honestly, we moved to the burbs because of the prices and the space and land, but we nver got over what we once had in the city. I don't know how Chicago suburbs are, but ours are very far removed. We are looking only in in city areas with good schools for the same reasons and yes the premium for that is A LOT so we accepted that we're goign to have to downsize when we find our house . . . but I'd rather have a smaller house and be able to walk with Waleed to storytime down the street and then a romp at the park then to have a large massive house where we spend all our time cooped up inside. Honestly though? I would recommend if you can, before you do purchase a home in the suburbs, if you can, try renting out there first and see if it truly is for you. We didn't do that, we just bought and talked to people who lived in the burbs for their take on it, and once we moved in we thought UH OH. But it was too late. I know it would be a pain to move twice like that, but it might be something to consider you are absolutely sure when you do decide to move.

    Susan, thanks so much, and thanks as always for listening to the vents as the process unfolded! 🙂


  12. …good luck w/the move, aisha – i'm sure it'll all work out…you seem to be pretty clear in what you want, and downsizing or not, it'll be worth it when you get it!



  13. iA you will love living in the city! The south, as you say, is a little culturally-deprived so you will have so many more enriching experiences raising your son in the city. He will go to museums and parks and see people of all ethnicities and walks of life. I think that is really important. We did that too — 4 bedroom house in CO to a 1br house in downtown Boston. We thought of our new neighborhood as a “small town” in a big city and I couldnt walk to the store without running into 4 or 5 friends (I often would take detours if I was in a big hurry). My advice would be to GET COMFORTABLE with getting rid of TONS of stuff that you DONT need! Dont overstuff your closets bc you need to room to grow as Waleed's toys get bigger! And start exploring your neighborhood and saying hi to other moms on the playground right away, don't be shy! You will LOVE it!

    We have been in Boston a few years now and just left to another urban corner (Brookline) but still try to make friends in our area and keep up with old friends, too. We have 20+ FAMILY-friend restaurants within walking distance, access to 2 subway lines, and great public schools for when the time is right. Inshallah you have made a good decision!


  14. Ash, insh'Allah! Are you in the UK right? What's it like there as I heard things are smaller– do the burbs ge tbigger like here in the US?

    HD, thanks so much for affirming what I am hoping will happen! So are you in a 1 bedroom right now with a child? How does that work for you guys? We're going to be 3 folks in about 890 sq feet. Do you wind up being out a whole lot more? What do you do for storage?


  15. All the best for your move, and I hope you'll find all you wish for in the new place.

    I am looking forward to future posts on the topic – it feels like I'm reading about myself. We recently sold our house for the same reasons, though our move is still a couple of months out and we haven't yet found that new place to rent or buy. I'm excited, worried and sad at the same time. Hoping the positive emotions will take over almost entirely once we find a place.



  16. Well, at least you had better luck than my sister did – she lived in Stockbridge and could not sell her house after YEARS of being on the market. In the end, due to the housing crisis and the recession, they lost their home to the bank. In the end, Anyways, good luck with the move – mine almost made me lose my everloving mind. Here's the motto – it's just stuff. It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over the years.


  17. It is always hard for me to turn the page — I need to do the appropriate amount of mourning. I was that way even when pregnant after years of infertility, I had to grieve the passing of my years as just hubby and me. But of course I wouldn't give up my kiddos for the world! You will thrive in the new location, I bet. There are many new beautiful memories to be made. Happy moving!


  18. Thanks Natalie 🙂 This is our second night in our new abode and so far so good- will be sure to update on small living along the way. I think many people are turning towards having “less” but gaining more in terms of culture and community. Let's see what our renting journey helps us see!

    Ash, I am pretty sure I knew ou lived in Lahore. Pardon my rickety brain cells 🙂

    Tauqeer, beautifully said. Thank you.


  19. A woman my age, sorry about your sister 😦 We feel incredibly blessed and lucky. We took an enormous loss but at the end of the day we're glad to be done with the responsibility. So so so glad. You are right, what matters most is family and community. Thanks.

    Sunny, thanks for relating, its always bittersweet to move on, but it doesn't take away the sweet 🙂


  20. Oh my gosh! What a HUGE change! It will be sad to say goodbye, but so exciting to open yourselves up to a new chapter. I hope the packing and moving go quickly and smoothly and you're not gone long!


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