Home For Sale
Tomorrow, our real estate agent will drive a stake in our yard that will make it official: this home is for sale.
We came to the decision shortly before Christmas, and I am (mostly) at peace with it. The minute we signed the realtor contract, whatever energy that had been jammed up around money for the preceding year came dramatically unstuck. Jobs and checks began rolling in, and if Patrick were to bill every month what he's billed the past two months, we would be wealthy enough to hire someone to do his sleeping for him while he is working 100+ hours per week.
Trying to stage a house with three little boys, two careers and life with no pause button has been challenging. We were supposed to start showing a month ago, but week after week I've had to beg for more time. Just staying abreast of these kids and keeping the place picked up is one thing; actually getting ahead of them, into deep cleaning, decluttering and improvements is another.
I bought sixty bankers boxes on sale after the first of the year, and I wish I'd bought sixty more. I've been ruthlessly sorting and tossing, and it's been a kind of yoga. There's a first stretch, then a deepening of that stretch, and then a real, "I don't know if I can go there" moment of truth.
It's also interesting what the stacked and labeled boxesthe keepers reveal about values. Our inventory is hugely weighted toward memorabilia and objects of sentimental import. I suspect there will be more deep stretching to be done on the other side of this move.
Over the weekend we had a friend come in and do some painting for us. Patrick has been able to pick away at small repair jobs here and there. Items that have been on the to-do list for years are finally getting done, and we are now wondering what the hell is wrong with us that we lived in half-painted rooms with broken light switches for so long.
And there is a part of me that wishes we could stay, forever and ever.
The financial bleeding has stopped. All my utility bills are actually for charges incurred in the past 30 days. There is more than two or three days worth of food in the kitchen and gas in the van. Our creditors are getting regular payments. We've been able to go out and eat in restaurants, say "yes" to social invitations that require spending (one thing you notice when you can't is how almost all of them do), and think beyond our own immediate survival to paying forward some of our extremely modest, yet miraculous-seeming good fortune.
But caught up isn't the same as being ahead, and like Scarlett O'Hara, as God is my witness, I'll never go through the sustained level of stress over money that I did last year. Evah. Again. Our house is in a great neighborhood, buffered from the worst of the current real estate market woes, and has more than tripled in value in the ten years since we bought it. With this sale, we can pay off every cent we owe, put six months comfortable living expenses in the bank, put some liquidity into both our freelance careers, and still have a hefty downpayment on the next house. It's a no-brainer.
And now that the hand-wringing is over, and the decision has been made, I'm at least as exhilarated as I am sad to let go. "We are free, we owe nothing to no-one," goes the title of a favorite painting by favorite artist, and it is an apt caption for the excitement I feel at pulling up roots after being dug in for so long. In all likelihood, our move won't take us more than a mile or two away, but the idea that we could re-invent ourselves all over again, some place completely new, is thrilling enough for us to have put the word out with friends in Ireland and elsewhere.
In an odd coda to our Year of Living By Our Fingernails, I'm going to be writing more about our extreme money makeover and the yoga of letting go at WalletPop, AOL's money blog, starting later this week. For money.
When I told this to my girlfriend, Jane, the other night, she looked appropriately stunned, as I imagine you do now. Don't worry, I won't be dishing out any advice. I'll leave that to my fellow WalletPop bloggers. But writing about our situation here has been so unexpectedly cathartic and well-received that I've come to think there are people going through their own challenges who need perspective and encouragement as much as advice. So I hope to make that my little niche.
I took this photo of my kitchen window sill this morning as I was running water for the coffee pot. It's a sill that badly needs scrubbing and painting, but it has become an altar for an assortment of kitchen gods. It's as imperfect as anything else in this house, but the east light comes in and annoints it every morning. Lately it reminds me that the things I have really loved and valued most in this house are all things I can take with mea few beloved objects and a wealth of memories. The east light will find me through the next window.
Labels: lack and plenty