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"Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word. Make fair rules. Do the right thing. Work when it’s time."
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
I have a feeling I might wake up tomorrow wondering if the last 24 hours actually happened. This morning, Dana and I officially became the owners of our dream home, located 10 minutes from my childhood home. The one where I learned to ride a bike, drive a car, then rode off to college at age 18, with no plan to return for more than a brief visit.
I would be lying if I said this was ever part of the plan, but by now, I have accepted that the plan changes, and that is the beauty of life.
Upon graduation from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, I set my sights on the city that never sleeps, envisioning a career and lifestyle that my hometown could not offer. A year later, Dana joined me, months before our 2nd anniversary.
For just short of a decade, NYC delivered in more ways than I can write here. I am incredibly grateful for all the memories, relationships, and experiences gained.
After Dana and I got married in 2018, we decided we wanted to put down roots. We knew that starting a family was in the not-so-distant future and were tired of paying rent. We spent a few months exploring real estate in our Park Slope neighborhood but (no surprise) found very little within our budget. Even at the top of the range, we would likely have no space to park a car and may still be frequent guests at the laundromat. Disheartened, we put our search on hold.
Despite the challenges that came with city living, I passionately resisted the idea of moving home. Anytime I would trek a bag of dirty laundry home during a weekend visit with my parents or share another NYC horror story with them, my Mom would suggest a life back home or outside the city. I would sternly respond, "Never."
I had ingrained the idea in my mind that pursuing my career and living near family were mutually exclusive. To put it simply, I love what I do, and I knew I could not do it outside the city limits with ease, so NYC was home. When the partners and I decided to shift Barrel to a remote-first model last year, all of that changed.
At first, I was resistant to leaving Brooklyn but eventually, I warmed up to the idea, realizing all that a move could offer. But leaving Brooklyn still did not mean going home. Dana and I spent the next seven months exploring our options with a focus on Connecticut. 50-some showings later, and nothing to show for but more confirmation that our dream home might be just that - a dream, we took a break over the holidays.
We emerged with a new perspective. Our CT search was pushing us further from the city and further from family. One of our wishes was to host family for holidays and other occasions. Who was going to come to visit us from hours away? What good was our dream home without being able to share it with the people we loved? We took CT off the list and officially enlisted my real estate agent parents to help us out. I started mentally preparing for life back home.
The search was bittersweet. Sweet to see all kinds of homes with my parents almost weekly but bitter to constantly be let down. Then, this contemporary retreat (deemed the "treehouse" in the listing) appeared like a mirage. Long story short, my Dad saw a coming soon listing and jumped on it. But no matter what he did, the agent would not let us through early. With the market moving fast, we had no choice but to move on.
Three weeks later, before heading back to Brooklyn, we decided to see a couple of homes on a whim. The coming soon listing was open, AND it had showings. We fell in love, and less than a week later, the seller accepted our offer. That was two months ago!
Here are a couple of photos from today:
When I look toward the future, there are simple pleasantries that get us excited, like doing our laundry at home, not having to clean dishes daily, and talking during Zoom meetings with a door to shut.
Then, there is the environment. As the thought of moving became more of a reality, we imagined a home that put us at ease. A place we could feel calm, centered, and inspired every day. We are thankful to have found a space among the trees that we believe will give us the perfect foundation to realize that vision.
Above all of this, though, we are thrilled to share our home with others. Most importantly, family. More time with those that we never thought possible. I can remember having drinks with friends, talking about how it was pretty sad to think that there would never be a time where we could cook for our parents on a casual Wednesday evening. The fact this is a new reality has not set in yet.
On a given week, we can entertain family, visit my 93-year-old Mom-Mom, swim with our cousins at their new home down the road, or drive just a few hours to see my baby niece Sofia. I can even get in a morning bike ride with my Dad and younger brother Justin. Not to mention, our little ones someday forging close relationships with family, like Dana and I did as children.
For as long as I can remember, I have been saving money to buy a home, literally since my first job as the designated babysitter for family friends at age 10. In that way, it is hard to believe we are here. I could not be happier to begin this new chapter with Dana and to see what else it has in store.
New York, Brooklyn - it is not a goodbye; it is a see you later. Instead of rushing back to the city on a Sunday to secure a street parking spot, I look forward to the reverse: casual rides home from visiting friends in the city.
Big thanks to my parents for believing our dream home was out there and helping us find it, even supporting searches in CT. Special thanks to my Dad for being a great agent and guiding us through every step of the process, going above and beyond! To my in-laws for letting us crash at their place for weeks at a time last summer, giving us an escape. To Mary Beth, our CT agent, for sticking it through with us and wishing us the best when we continued our search in PA. To Peter and Sei-Wook for the opportunity to contribute to Barrel's growth and the decision to make family a critical part of our company values. And Dana, for riding with me on the wave of emotions this past year. I could not have picked a better partner in crime.
Kudos to you if you made it this far. With another edit, I could have probably made it shorter but I feel like there is so much to say. Thanks for coming along. Here's to new beginnings! Now, back to packing up the rest of our Brooklyn apartment before making the move official-official on Friday.
Lesson? Never say never. But more importantly, never be afraid to challenge your beliefs. As reality changes, be careful letting old beliefs hold you back from seeing the possibilities and discovering what you really want.
Which of my beliefs are no longer serving me?