Sunday, March 11, 2012

OMG We're Selling the House

I heard a lecturer discuss resiliency once. He said people who have a strong resiliency factor meet challenge head on, or go around it to the next thing. They don’t lie down in the road to get mowed over. Having been through some very difficult times and come out on the other side still standing, I figured we were good to go with the resiliency thing.

That was before we realized the house we’ve lived in for twenty years doesn’t work anymore. Maybe you can relate.

It is the most gorgeous place. We raised our children here. We’ve loved and laughed and done a whole lot of crying here. But, for lots of reasons, it’s time to let it go. After we chewed on that for a while, and finally came to grips, we agreed to sell the family home.  

The realtor came over and walked around with a notepad. When his eyes landed on the chipped paint in the living room, he made a note. We came to the torn wallpaper along the staircase, another note. The dripping faucet in the bathroom seemed to have picked up speed as we poked our heads in there. And, man, how many years had we been growing mildew in the shower?

Suddenly, the plaster was cracking everywhere. The floors were so scuffed it was sad. And the windows…it’s a wonder we could see outside. They looked like someone had thrown up all over them. Needless to say, we had some work to do.

First we started hauling stuff out of the attic to make room for the stuff we needed to haul up into the attic. It took a 28 foot truck to offload the small portion of our collection that we could bring ourselves to part with. We had a yard sale. I watched the years being snapped up by bargain hunters. When a woman tried to get my daughter’s bassinette for a buck-fifty instead of two dollars, I said no. It was the principle of the thing.

The six thousand pictures that had been excellent dust collectors all this time had to go, as did the several absolutely essential stacks of paper that covered my desk, and every counter. The closets were not the safe havens I’d imagined they would be. As it turns out, prospective buyers open everything and look in, so we couldn’t just shove it all in there.

Then there were those windows. As much as we rationalized, they had to be done. It was snowing that day, but we’d run out of time. As an aside, let me mention that Windex all but eats the skin off your hands if you use enough of it, and no amount of lotion will bring it back. You just have to grow a new batch.

The windows took days, as did the floors and the bathrooms and the zillion crevices into which every kind of filth had made its way. My God, we’d been living like a bunch of pigs.

Next we started painting: hallways and doors and walls that went on forever. There was no place to stop. How could you leave that dingy mess there right next to this fresh coat here?

Slowly we got things cleaned up, but then came the ordeal of living that way until the house sold. You make your damn bed up behind you as you’re crawling out in the morning, no questions asked. Not so much as a spoon gets left on the kitchen counter and you should expect a much deserved tongue lashing should you ever leave your toothbrush out on the sink. Shoes go in the closet. I found it easier to just step in with them on, then pull my feet out and shut the door. That way, I don’t have to bend over.

We dust two times a week and feel guilty it’s not happening on a daily basis. We haul the vacuum out of the neatly arranged coat closet each night before we call it quits, and even that’s not enough. When we flush the toilet now, we just grab the brush and give it a swirl right then and there.

Should someone drop by and toss his coat on a chair, we stare at it and wonder how long before the friend will leave. There will be no overnight guests anymore because the spare room has been staged and they will mess it up. And we don’t even think of cooking. It took several hours to clean the stove and I’m not about to do it again.

It’s a frightening existence and we were getting the tiniest bit snippy with each other. So, we went looking for a positive spin. Suddenly, there it was, dancing before us on layers of the life we had laid down. Beneath the debris were memories, rich and textured. We’d almost forgotten them. The clutter of time passing had begun to cover over the beauty of time spent.

When we cleaned the house, we scraped away the dullness of spirit that can sometimes gather. All the focus on where we’ve been has led us to where we want to go next. We are, at last, looking forward.

That being said, I am fairly certain we will never stage a house for sale again. Ever. We’ll just give the next one away, as is.


  1. My house is on the market, Donna. For a whole week now. I live alone, and I have been here only 5 years, so not your experience. However, it is disconcerting to come home to evidence that strangers have been in my house. The lights on that weren't, and off that were. The toilet lid that was down, up. A book askew. But when I found Mr. Potatohead, on a shelf for visiting grandson, had been explored, I smiled. That was a good thing.

  2. I understand the grief, though. My house doesn't have history, but it and the garden have been my primary relationship for five years. The grief is enormous. Thoughts are with you.

  3. Selling a home can be a long and complex process. For you to find out how much your home is worth, you need to have a realtor assess the market value of your property. This usually involves revamping the entire house (just like what you have done) so you can ask for a competitive purchase price from buyers.

    Ofelia Bertrand