selling house to relocate


Image by palindrome6996 via Flickr

Rain, rain go away. Come again some other day. Sheets of water that pool on the lawn and overwhelm sump pumps remind me of the June and July of 1993 when it rained all but six days. Torrents that forced you to pull over to the side of the road because you literally couldn’t see past the hood of your own car. Water that ran like rapids along the curbs, spilling onto the easements like swollen rivers jumping their banks. Whenever it rains too much or too often or too hard, I become a little anxious like my old junior high school friend Lisa J. who for months after seeing Hitchcock’s The Birds for the first time would go running for the nearest shelter whenever she saw crows lined up on the telephone wires. The rain of late has vexed me with water in the basement. Not opportune as I am trying to sell my house, but fortunately so universally common in this part of the state that most people accept it as a matter of course. Which leads me to the conclusion that most of us operate under the motto of “good enough”.


I will admit to a latent perfectionist streak that never seems to manifest itself unless the attainment of perfection is nearly impossible, and the pursuit will tax me beyond measure. I don’t just want things to work out. I want them to work out in best case scenario mode. And that simply isn’t possible. It just isn’t.


The house is in need of update. Flooring. Walls. Fixtures. It will take money but more, it will take time. Many people today are conditioned to expect perfect but not work for it. When perfect is only possible through their own efforts, then good enough is okay.


And there are the details of the move that include mail forwarding and canceling utilities that if I had my way would be done already. There are plastic totes that need to be emptied of contents that should go to the Goodwill and then refilled with clothes that need to come with us to our new home. There is the letter to my in-laws that begs to be written and the little voice inside my head that reminds me to mail it once we are across the border if I want to avoid tears and tantrums and unwarranted questioning of my judgement. There is a job that irritates me beyond measure most days though I still feel compelled to do the best that I possibly can and leave it in better working order than when I took it over.


And I need to just make a cup of tea and tell myself that it’s really good enough. My efforts so far. The completion of things yet to do. Good enough. No one is actually grading me on any of this. It’s not a matter of collecting red, blue and gold stars on a chart. My “good enough” is the best I can do given the circumstances and frankly is probably better than most others.

Dream House Country Inn (1852)

Image by origamidon via Flickr

Selling the house is proving to be more traumatic than I would have ever guessed. In so many ways the house has been my prison these last 3 years. There are very few happy memories and the majority of those are recent ones, but I have been feeling more and more down as prospective buyers traipse through. In part, I think, because of the silent (or in the case of one snotty woman not so very) judging that goes on.


Mick remarked to me in an email early on in the listing process that she found the whole process of showing houses to buyers weird. That it would feel as though they were checking her out too. In a way she is right. The walls need paint. The flooring is outdated and worn. The bathrooms need a bit of updating as well. Nothing monumental but if you didn’t know my story, you would wonder what kind of lazy home-owner I have been.


In an even odder way, it makes me feel more like a failure than I already do when I reassess my care-taking and early widowed days. Leave it to me to seek perfectionism in roles that I never wanted in the first place.


This house was supposed to be our future. We had spent endless hours speculating and planning. Thinking about it now, our dreams were so cliche. A suburban life. The kind that everyone else lives. At the time I wanted to be like everyone else. I guess if I am being honest I sometimes still do want that. To be like everyone else. I am not sure though that I am like everyone else or ever was. The root of my discontent perhaps is that I have spent a large part of my life trying to not be myself.


When I go into the basement, I see the pool table that Will wanted. The patio out the sliders to the backyard should be a deck. Dee’s room upstairs should be occupied with the baby brother she has always wanted, and the spare bedroom should be green with Disney princesses on the wall. The kitchen should look like someone actually cooks, and the living room should actually have furniture in it that we shopped for on a Sunday afternoon while the kids climbed on the displays as though they were at the playground down the street. His white truck should be sitting in the drive and the creepy guy who lives next door shouldn’t have ever felt free to watch me like he still sometimes does.


It’s silly to let all these endings drag me down when I have so much love and life surrounding me and so many happy events and happier days and nights to look forward too. But the past must be bid a proper farewell and tucked in to rest for awhile. I want to meet the future with my heart and mind fully present and that means letting certain memories and regrets have their moment when they come knocking. Acknowledge the past that could have been while remembering that you never were meant to live there.


Tricky business, like letting go. I didn’t realize until recently that I had let a certain part of myself go back there from time to time. I had always thought that I was moving forward at all times. Surprise, eh?


My favorite couple to come through so far looked to be first timers. I could hear her gushing about the color of the upstairs bath which I had loved myself when I first saw it though the realtor and Will thought it was awful. She was animated and excited and bursting with enthusiasm. The house deserves someone like her after what it has gone through. It should have laughter and life to look forward to again.

a nice starter home

Image by girl_onthe_les via Flickr

I came home this afternoon to a “For Sale” sign in the yard. I had actually been a bit worried about my reaction. This was the house that Will and I wanted to make a home out of. Have another baby in. Live the future we had planned. None of those things ever came to pass. It is still just a house. There is no baby and never will be. Ironically we’d never had even the slightest chance at a future from the day we first met because he was already dying.


There was a message waiting on the machine already from the realtor who had found the buyer for our last house asking could he bring clients by later and could I call him to confirm. I decided to take that as a good omen.


I would love for this house to be sold in a matter of weeks. It has held me prisoner long enough. It was meant to be someone else’s home and future, I think, and I have just been “keeping it warm” for them. But I am realistic enough to know that finding a buyer in the current market could take a while and, regardless, we are leaving for our new home in Canada with Rob mid-June.


All this packing and realtor stuff has brought back memories of selling the last house and all that was going on at the time. The house we were living in was mine. I had bought it the summer before I met Will. I loved that house. I loved the area which was the original part of the suburb we live in. The neighborhood had been flooded out in 1993 and the house on my lot torn down and replaced with the tiny starter home I ended up buying. It was just a couple of blocks from the old shopping district. I could walk to the farmer’s market on Thursday evenings and over to the post office. There was a walking path not too far off that I did my daily running on. I had an old-fashioned front porch where I would sit on the steps and listen to the trees whisper to the skies on windy evenings in the summer.


When Will moved in, we put in a brick patio in the back and grilled out with friends on the weekends. Actually, we grilled all the time as soon as the weather was warm. He loved to grill. The epitome of the male stereo-type if you want to know.


We decided to sell and find a bigger place when our daughter was about 9 months old. Will was already quite sick but we were still choosing to believe the doctors who told him that it was stress and depression. I am not sure I ever really believed that but I know that by the time we had begun the process to sell the house, I didn’t believe it at all.


The house sold the weekend of July 4th. It had only taken about 4 weeks. By the end of that week, he had been placed on leave because of two accidents he had with his cube van. Ultimately they would fire him, but at the time I was so angry with him for keeping his troubles at work from me. I still sometimes wonder what he was thinking then but I doubt he had any clear comprehension of what was happening by that point as he was just weeks away from the point of no return physically and mentally.


The day we moved I had to forge his signature on some of the documents because he couldn’t really write anymore. It was obvious to anyone who talked with him, looked at him even, that he was very ill. Moving day was a blur of people and an overwhelming desire to throw my baby into my car and drive as fast and as far away as I could get.


I had loved this house the first time I had gone through but from the moment we were moved in all I wanted was to leave. I didn’t hang pictures on the wall. I stacked unopened totes and boxes in the basement that are still sitting there today. I just knew somehow that this was not permanent.


Selling feels right though I can’t deny that it is stirring up memories of times past. Feelings of being overwhelmed, helpless, lost, cheated, trapped. Not good times. But, they are just memories.