I was a forensic scientist in the NYPD for eight years. I recently left to build a better life in Michigan for my family of introverts. I wrote this the day we bought our house there.

They’ll just see a house.

They won’t see the 21-year-old rookie New Yorker, counting pennies at a kitchen table pulled from the trash. They won’t see tacos for Thanksgiving dinner. They won’t see the student attending college meetings for the free food. They won’t see the five-block walk for a candy bar because the subway stand had them for 50 cents cheaper than the corner store. They won’t see five years spent without a car and six years without cable.

They won’t see the IAB investigations. They won’t read the snarling anonymous letters of false accusations. They won’t hear the quiet of the gym chosen over the negativity of the lunch room. They won’t notice the girl crying in the bathroom at work. They won’t feel the stomach aches while lying in bed. They’ll never know the determination it took.

They’ll see 10 years condensed into one Facebook post. But they won’t see the grit.

They won’t feel the relief of promotions. The quiet tucking away of extra money. They won’t notice how she lives within her means. They won’t see the hope. The formation of the goal and the patience to arrive. They won’t notice the purchase of a Honda over the lease of a Lexus. They won’t hear of the plan to save at a New York rate and spend at a Michigan rate.

They’ll just see a house.

But she? She’ll see a castle. She’ll see 75% less taxes and double the square footage. She’ll see four rooms to sleep in and three rooms to bathe in. She’ll see a two-car garage and a finished basement. A second floor laundry and walk-in closets. She’ll see plans for an office, a library, a bar, and a man-cave. She’ll look out on the back deck and imagine cookouts and cocktails.

She’ll remember the day she left the malcontents behind. The day she walked out the door for the last time, threw her hands toward the sky, and smiled. She’ll remember the lieutenant’s laugh as he scoffed at her plan to move back to Detroit. “I hear it’s a lovely place,” were the sarcastic last words he said to her as he walked away laughing.

He won’t see her smile at his empty life.

She’ll remember her friends. Their gift of endless laughter and the healing of her soul. Days spent at BBQs and nights spent on rooftops. Peruvian feasts and beer gardens. Kind coworkers who used their eyes more often than their mouths. She’ll see chaperones of encouragement and forgiveness of friends. She will harbor gratitude for every little moment of her stupid little life.

They’ll just see a house.

But she will finally—finally—see


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  • Nancy Le

    Oh, I love this. Thank you. #relate

  • Personally, I like hearing about the “10 years” much more than the “one Facebook post.”

    As someone who majored in her favorite subject in college and was mocked for it by her adviser (“Oh, so you intend to starve,” he said), I needed this.

    As someone who left Washington, DC, for her native Ohio to be closer to family/live free of roommates/live with lower costs/escape the stress of the Capitol, and was met with disgusted “WHYs?”, I needed this.

    As someone who is working hard to build up a freelance writing business while facing financial difficulty and naysayers, I needed this.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle. (I’m not too far from Detroit. Let’s grab coffee sometime. :-D)

  • Rich Kaczynski

    This made me smile; I can truly identify with your dream and admire the sacrifices you made to realize it. Enjoy!!!

  • GlassMask

    My wife and I work in a large-ish NC city, but we live across the border in a tiny SC town, debt-free and happy. Absolutely worth being where you’re happy…

  • Sisofnine

    I, too, am one of the many who finally gets the opportunity to find a more peaceful life. Moving from LA to a house on a river in Ohio has healed many years of self-doubt and trying to accommodate. Your story is familiar; every bit of it. I “love” how we are made to feel that we are the crazy ones. Enjoy the space and silence and finding a place to put your stuff!

  • Zazaza Papp

    Awesome! Happy for you and your family. I recently re-located from Wisconsin to Ohio to be closer to family and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  • BSR

    Awesome. Good luck and enjoy your new life. You have earned it.
    Best regards from Spain.