Has it really been over 3 months since I wrote a blog post? That’s easily the longest I’ve gone without hitting “publish.” Weird, but explainable…
After Brett and I moved back to the states from Bermuda late last fall, we moved into his condo in downtown Portsmouth, NH. It’s a grey, beer-drinking town with a funky art scene that I’m pretty sure boasts more plaid shirts per capital than anywhere else in the world. The restaurants there are top notch and you can literally walk to Maine or drive a traffic-free 20 minutes to Massachusetts. Brett had renovated his condo just before we moved to Bermuda so it was fun to finally get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
But there were several reasons why we ultimately decided to move out of Portsmouth. Although we were completely fine with the amount of living space, Brett’s condo didn’t have the storage space that we both wanted. I was working as a writer in Amesbury, MA, about a 30 minute drive each way. Brett flew and continues to fly in and out of Bedford, MA. Even with logistics aside, I felt “trapped” in Portsmouth and too far away from the city life that makes my soul come alive. And the independent woman in me (cue the Z-snap) loathed living in a place that was Brett’s - his town, his condo, his friends, etc. It’s hard to not feel like a guest in your own home/town with that set up. That’s not to say that he didn’t do everything he could to make me feel like it was “ours” - because he did and I love him for that. I just happen to be deeply passionate about living in a place I can make my own, that we can make our own.
We started looking for new places early on, initially out of curiosity. Thankfully, Brett’s best friend since forever is a (wonderful) local realtor and was happy to show us options. At first this process stressed me out beyond belief because I was already forced to leave Bermuda and move somewhere that wasn’t my top choice (though, it’s far from my bottom pick), I had never bought a home before and was terrified of the idea of planting roots (regardless of location), and I didn’t know the area well enough to know if I was formulating smart opinions. However, looking back, even as hard as it was, I am glad we did this because it helped me get to know the different towns quickly. As soon as I saw Newburyport, I loved it. (For the Richmonders reading this, imagine Monument Ave + The Fan but with a nautical New England vibe.)
Last March, Brett had dropped me off at an appointment and he went to tour a condo in Newburyport to kill time. When he came back to pick me up, he blurted out, “I found our place!” I told him to call the realtor to see if I can go see it since we were in the area. She didn’t answer. So he called his best friend (our realtor), who connected with the realtor representing the condo. It’s after hours. There were already four offers. So in true New England real estate fashion, we offered well above the asking price (so did the others) but sweetened the pot by offering a move-in date that we knew would appeal to the owners. And we got it. Yes, we put an offer on a house before I had laid eyes on it. I know, I know. Such a classic Dana move. But I trusted that Brett would never take the chance on being wrong with something as big as buying a home.
So we moved into our condo early July. It’s 2/2 and about three times the size of our condo in Portsmouth (which we rented out). We have been doing house projects ever since. So much painting. Pealing paint. Painting paint. Hiring painters to paint. So many coats of paint. Sanding. Patching. Ordering furniture. Sending furniture back. Hanging things on walls. There is a sense of urgency because it’s impossible to do stuff during winter and because living in a place that feels incomplete drives.me.batshit.crazy. We’re THIS close to having the place be presentable enough to have people over.
Although we are in the midst of approximately 12,000 house projects, it feels so good to live here. We have plenty of space, plenty of storage. We both love living in Newburyport. We are two blocks from the water and appreciate how it’s such a focal point in this town. The downtown is smaller than Portsmouth’s, but Newburyport is more open. There are tons of parks, trails, and paths which we take advantage of regularly. We are a five minute drive from the beach, Plum Island. There is a train in town that takes you to North Station in Boston. If we wanted to drive into the city, we can easily do so, too.
I have the space to do the things I love. The space to walk and explore. The space to think and write and paint. For the first time since moving back to the states, I finally feel like I can breathe.