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Lisa Wilkinson: Why Our First House Will Forever Be Our Home

Newly married, pregnant with our first child, and full of the promise of the life we were planning, we fell in love with our house, much as we had with each other – on the spot, and profoundly.

It was our very first home together.

Four weeks later when standing in the living room, the auctioneer pointed at us and said “Sold!” – at a much lower price than the real estate agent had been predicting – we simply couldn’t believe our luck.

In fact, for the six weeks we had to wait before the keys to the door were finally going to be ours, we used to sit in our car across the road, desperately hoping not to be seen by the outgoing owners, imagining what lay ahead for us, watching as the lights went on and off, and never quite believing that we were grown up enough to have found our forever home.

Lisa and her husband Peter FitzSimons just after their marriage and not long before buying their first home together. Photo: Supplied

Sure, we had just signed on for a mortgage that terrified both of us, and yes, there was a termite problem, and sure, there had been some dodgy extensions by a succession of owners in the poo-brown-tile, fibro and chipboard era of the 60s, 70s and 80s . . . but one day, when we could afford it, we’d get to all that.

What our house did have though, was a warm hug for us from the moment we walked through that front door.  Like that great philosopher from The Castle, Darryl Kerrigan always said, it was about “the vibe”.

And it was a vibe we felt once again in spades yesterday when we knocked on that big old front door and returned as visitors for the first time in 21 years. You see, we never did quite stay forever.  And we never did quite do all those renovations we dreamt of.  But as we discovered yesterday, the new owners did.

And bright and beautiful as those changes were, all the bones of the home we loved so much were all still there. The memories too: from the tyre that used to hang in the gnarly old camphor laurel tree in the backyard, sleepless nights spent with newborns, tooth fairies, scraped knees, Easter egg hunts, birthday parties and fairy bread...they all came flooding back.

Lisa at the kitchen window with her late mother Beryl and her three children. Photo: Supplied

It was the house where two of our kids were conceived, the one we brought all of them home from hospital to, and where my late mum would patiently rock them in their prams on the front verandah, singing lullabies while they waited for the lights of my car to come up the hill as I raced home from work.

And even though we only spent five years there, we were dug in deep.  So in a strange way we somehow felt, as we walked back down that hallway that held so many sweet, sweet memories yesterday, that we were coming back home.

Lisa with baby number three, daughter Billi. Bath time in the kitchen sink at the old house. Photo: Supplied

But we weren’t.

And those nice people who have owned it for the last 21 years, are now moving on themselves.

In six weeks or so, I suppose, there will be another family – likely with young kids – moving in, and making happy memories of their own, and I wish them well. Even thirty or forty years from now though, for my family, that place will still feel like our home.

Lisa and Pete outside their first home, 21 years after they closed the door and said goodbye. Photo: Supplied

No, that won’t be on the title deed, or the rental agreement, but the place where you first walked, talked, fell over and picked yourself up again – or saw the same in your precious children – gives you a kind of spiritual ownership that the property laws can’t even get close to.

We love that home, in the present tense, not the past. We always will. Homes. They just . . . get to you.