Dear Little Condo,
Amy saw you for the first time. Alone. One of the few things we’d ever done apart in over four years of dating. She later told Jordan that she couldn’t breathe when she drove down your street, because she knew we couldn’t afford you. We were twenty-one, getting married that month and still didn’t have jobs lined up for the fall. It was 2009, and the worst part of the worst recession since the Great Depression, after all. But, that angel (our sweet family friend named Jeannie) took Amy through the gates anyways so she could meet you. It was such a gift that she rented you to us for a fraction of what you were worth to help a young married couple stand on their own two feet for the first time.
Now let’s be real, condo, you weren’t exactly Pinterest worthy. Mostly because Pinterest didn’t really exist yet. Evidence: our Pepto-Bismol pink and BROWN wedding. Yikes. There was nothing very light or bright or airy about you. You had dark walls and floors, and were filled with dark brown walls and black metal furniture to match. Looking back, we laugh to ourselves, because whatever the opposite of black metal and brown walls is, that’s us. In fact, just a few years later, we became photographers known for light, bright, airy images. The irony.
But you came furnished — and for a couple of young pups without much furniture of our own, other than a metal bed frame, an old family dresser and a hand-me-down black tube television with a dented speaker from the 1994 California earthquake — that was the best deal in the world. We were so, so thankful for a place that was better than we could’ve dreamed.
Plus, the black metal and black leather furniture matched that big boxy TV.
Looking back, though, we think that maybe you needed us as much as we needed you. A little spruce wouldn’t hurt on your end. Thanks to a lot of work with Amy’s sweet mom, who happens to be an interior designer (Kimberlie Ann Interiors) we softened and brightened you up quite a bit over eight years, condo. You would’ve been a good contestant on an extreme home makeover show, because in the time we’ve known you, between the fresh paint we eventually gave you and the new furniture we saved five years for.
We barely started to recognize you…
Five years later…
You, like a diamond in the rough, became what you are over the years.
We did, too.
It’s been ninety-two months since we got married and moved in, but ninety-three is the most we’ll get with you. Because in just one more, we’ll move on and out. Forever.
We’ve been saving for this for years. Some said we should’ve moved years ago. We both knew this was coming. But we couldn’t let go until we’d found our forever home. That’s why we held on for so long.
* * *
Six months ago, we found it. Our dream house in our dream neighborhood, only a few minutes from where we live now. The only house in a hundred square miles that checked all one hundred of our wish-list boxes. We never thought the stars would align like that. Fortunately, we serve a God who aligns them.
We’re normally the people who share everything online, but we haven’t said a word about it. Not a peep. Not a picture. Not because we didn’t want the world to know, but because we wanted our own little world to know first. Our family. Our friends. Our church and our neighbors. It’s pretty hard to find something they don’t already know!
Also, for us, being silent has been a fun little secret. From the foundation to the framing, to the drive-though burritos we ate in the car in-between late night HomeGoods runs, the longer we didn’t say anything, the less we wanted to; and the less we felt called to.
For the first time in the longest time, we finally had something that was our special thing. Just for us.
We move this month and, we’ve decided it’s time to bring you in to our big, fun secret. One of the biggest changes we’ve ever made! As we feel led by the Lord, we’ll share more about our new home. Because we have really big hopes, and dreams and prayers for it. It’s not lost on us how blessed we are to be in this position, and we feel nothing but gratitude. But, before we move forward, we wanted to look back and reflect on the past seven years in our condo with a thank you letter to the walls that witnessed more moments and memories than we can count, the cocoon that gave us a space place to test our wings… and land.
* * *
Oh, Little Condo, you were there.
You were there when we got back from our honeymoon. We’re sure you remember it, because it was the only time Jordan insisted on carrying Amy through the threshold of the front door.
You were there when we found our first scorpion… and the next dozen over the years. You probably remember the scoreboard Jordan kept on the fridge for each time he caught another one: Scorpions 0, Jordan 12.
You were there on our first day as residents, as we dangled our feet over the edge of our bed and giggled while we recorded voicemail after voicemail on our home phone letting people know they’d reached “The Demos Residence.”
Nobody but solicitors and Amy’s mom called that number anyways.
You were there when we finally gave in and bought our FIRST SMART PHONES. In 2013. Seven years after the first iPhone was released. We were a little late to that game. Thanks for understanding.
Especially since it wasn’t until 2014 that we finally discovered hashtags were clickable. Which has us wondering, was hashtag even a word when we moved in?
You were there on our first day of teaching elementary school. You probably remember Jordan’s epic Mr. Demos khakis and polos. And maybe you even remember the grading rubrics. The parent emails. The days where we felt like we changed the world for the better. And the days where we thought we might’ve ruined it.
You were there when we did our first Dave Ramsey budget.
You never had an ice maker. Or reverse osmosis. So we spent seven years carefully filling up ice cube trays and changing the filters on our Brita pitchers.
And when we didn’t have enough grocery money one month and had to decide between getting chips or cheese. You can do WAY more with cheese, obviously. So we got that and used cooked tortillas for chips.
You were there when we thought we lost $10,000.
And when Jordan dropped out of law school.
You were there as Jordan coached youth soccer so we could save extra money for camera gear. And you were there while Amy worked hard after hours to learn how to make our dream become a reality.
You were also there when Amy burned a quesadilla black as night and filled the entire house with smoke — and subsequently got banished from Jordan’s kitchen. For-e-ver.
And you’ve been there for every meal in between. Even Jordan, who’s quite good in the kitchen, can’t help but set off the smoke alarm almost any time he cooks on the stove top because the space in the kitchen is so small. Luckily, the kitchen is conveniently located right by the FRONT DOOR, so we can swing it open preemptively.
You were there for every load of laundry. And since the washer and dryer were behind your accordion pantry doors in the kitchen, thanks for understanding when we’d make a mess of the main walkway.
It’s in your hallway where the black and white portraits of all six of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day line the walls. Reminding us what a gift our marriage is, and what a responsibility we have to be good stewards of the legacy of love that was passed down to us.
You were there when we brought the kittens home. They slept in the guest bathroom the first few nights.
The same bathroom floor we sobbed on, sick and exhausted, when we’d run ourselves ragged and into the ground working multiple full-time jobs trying to make our dream job happen.
It eventually did.
You were there on the weekends we shot triple-headers. When we stayed up all night charging batteries and backing up pictures. You were there when we hosted free classes for photographers from our guest room and opened enrollment on our first online course.
The cats will miss watching people on the public sidewalk. They especially love the all the kids. But we have a feeling they’ll like all the space at the new place even more.
We will all miss working and eating on the same table. Eat, clear plates, work, clear laptops, eat, clear plates, work, repeat.
You were there when we packed so many out-of-town friends onto couches and air mattresses that between the suitcases and dirty clothes, we actually couldn’t see your floors.
You were there for the game nights. Viewing parties and Netflix marathons. Late-night conversations on the couch. You were there as our friends went from single. To dating. To engaged. To married. To parents.
You were there for all of our snuggly nights in. When nothing was better than a good pair of sweatpants and even better conversation.
You were there when we discovered the magic of cookie butter for the first time.
And when lighting struck twice… and we decided to mix it with ice cream.
You were there as we got ready each morning – in front of the one sink. We got pretty good at sharing that one sink. Getting ready became a dance.
Speaking of dancing, we’re sorry for all the dancing Jordan did when he got out of the shower. Amy wanted him to cover up as much as you did.
You were there for it all.
You were there when we sprang out of bed.
You were there when we cried ourselves to sleep.
You were there when we got down on our knees and prayed.
You were there when we received some of the best news, and the worst.
You were there for some of our biggest fights and greatest triumphs.
You’ve always been there.
And even though you won’t be there anymore, we’ve become who we are in the past seven years.
And that, whether here or there, the memories we’ve made with you will always go with us.
You’ve been our nest. Our safe place. Our soft place to land. We got to grow up. Together. And we couldn’t leave feeling any more grateful.
Goodbye, Condo. We will never forget you.
Here’s to building new memories, but taking our foundation with us.