Internet Explorer users may need to widen their browser windows to span all three columns. Or download Firefox.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

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 boxes—the 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 me—a few beloved objects and a wealth of memories. The east light will find me through the next window.



Blogger Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

I'm so glad that things are working out for you. And I think that continuing to share your experience will help people who are going through something similar. In the midst of any stressful situation, it's a blessing to find "perspective and encouragement." I, for one, take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only smart, well-educated, and hardworking person who has dealt with bad financial issues. We ascribe so much shame and secrecy to our finances, which just adds to the stress. Let the light in!

3:23 PM  
Blogger island sweet said...

this step takes bravery and kyran, you are brave. xxx

5:38 PM  
Blogger jennifer h said...

This was a beautiful post, all the way to the last line. So hopeful. I'm glad things are going well for you and your family. Good luck with the sale and the move.

I'll read you over on WalletPop! Congratulations!

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whither thou goest I will go. I look forward to reading whereever you may write. So glad to hear things are turning around for you and yours.

12:44 AM  
Blogger BubblesandMoney said...

I found your blog from the article in the newspaper. I have so enjoyed it. Thanks for being real.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

Wow. Wow. On top of everything, this sounds ultimately rejuvenating. I wish you much luck and daring for whatever comes next. I look forward to your new gig, too!

2:07 PM  
Blogger J Pyron said...

There are indeed people going through their own challenges who need your perspective. I just read your "Plenty" column and a sense of relief and solace washed over me just knowing that someone else out there has been where my family is now. Thanks again and again to you for your candor and honesty about tough subjects.

2:13 PM  
Blogger HRH said...

I am so glad that it is working out and in the long run will be best. What an adventure...

3:11 PM  
Blogger Julie @ Letter9 said...

Moving yoga. I like that.

7:59 PM  
Blogger KinnicChick said...

bankers boxes. Genius. I got moving boxes - big ones when we sold our place and they were way too big to be useful in the long run. I think you were very wise to use these.

I cannot tell you how cathartic and energizing it was for us to take this step of clearing and selling our place. It was for a different reason at the time, but had much the same effect.

I'm so glad things are looking bright on your path for the move. I wish you the best and will be following along because we could use a year of living by our fingernails as well!

11:25 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

I'm looking forward to reading your words in two places now!

1:38 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

the east light will find you, indeed!
home is where ever you are.


5:47 AM  

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

<< Home