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Sunday, March 05, 2006
The Beginning of a Long Goodbye
On Saturday, T was all geared up to get the house ready to sell. We've decided to put it on the market ourselves (for sale by owner, no realtor) March 15 through April 15. If we don't have any leads by mid-April, we'll enlist the services of a realtor. Since March 15 is not too far away, we spent almost all of Saturday cleaning and putting things in boxes.

T rented a small storage space on the outskirts of our little town, and we started filling it with boxes and odd things that made our basement look cluttered (e.g., a cradle T's grandfather made in 1970 that we can't bear to part with but also couldn't use for ST, since the cradle tips over with excessive rocking!). In my home office/guest bedroom, the closet was and still is full of the books I've collected during my years in graduate school. I boxed most of them up, those books I'm sure I won't need for the remainder of dissertation work or syllabi writing. I also boxed up non-essential kitchen items, like the deviled egg plate and the extra cooling racks and cutting boards I had lying around cluttering my cupboards. Most difficult, however, was packing up all of our framed photographs in an effort to "depersonalize" the space. With each frame I wrapped in newspaper and set in a cardboard apple box, my house seemed to be less mine.

I cried a lot on Saturday afternoon as we packed and cleaned. I cried because we built this house; we chose everything in it, from the retro chandelier in the dining room to the knobs on the bathroom cabinets. We've painted every wall, some of them more than once. There's a small ding in the ceiling leading up to the bedrooms where T and my Dad knocked it with our king-sized mattress the day we moved in. There is a tiny, almost unnoticeable red food coloring stain on the carpet next to the kitchen where ST went a little crazy while baking with me. In the kitchen, there are three pellets of cat food in the vent on the floor where ST decided to hide our cat's leftovers when he was about 15 months old.

There are things about this house only we know. We know all of the plants outside and where they came from (usually our local greenhouse or cuttings from my Mom's garden). We know that if you walk on a certain place in the living room, you'll hear a spooky banging sound as the vibrations travel along the ducts under the floor. We know that every night at around 11:00pm, you can hear the FedEx plane fly over our house on its way to our tiny regional airport. We know that our backyard, which now overlooks neat little houses separated by privacy fences, was a corn and soybean field the first three years we lived here, invading our yard with strange bugs and large frogs whenever it rained. We know that the most beautiful place to be in the late afternoon is ST's bedroom, where the golden sunlight floods through his big window and illuminates the clean lines of the hallway beyond his room.

But someone else will learn these things. Someone will paint over the walls we so lovingly covered with Sherwin-Williams Superpaint in colors like "Sands of Time," "Pacer White," and "Ivoire." Someone else will figure out that you have to cut down the sedum in the early spring. Someday someone will rip out our carpet and get rid of that little food coloring stain forever, not knowing the adorable toddler who created it or the mother who tried not to fret over it. Someone will get rid of the ancient air compressor in the garage, not knowing it once belonged to my grandfather. This is the way it is supposed to be.

As much as this place means to me and to my family, we are letting go. It will be a lot easier to do once T finds a job in New Town and we can buy a house there -- it will be easier when we have a specific "destination," a new place to call home. But for now we're beginning the process of a long and leisurely goodbye, one box at a time.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 3/05/2006 09:10:00 PM  
1 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    Thanks for sharing, ProfessorMe. It's all true, and it's all real.

    We didn't take care in leaving our old house (the one that hasn't sold). My father died there. But, it was our first house, the one we returned to, after more than three years away, at grad school; after renting the upstairs for two (my dad had an "in-law" apt in the garden-level basement).

    There are many memories there. The garden was all mine. I transformed it in the time we lived there: I planted over three dozen rose bushes, and severely pruned the lilacs in the front, so they framed the porch, rather than obscured it. I dug up the grass, all of it, and put down mulch. I dug up and divided the gorgeous irises (especially the "apple" ones with their mottled yellow and red coloring), and transferred them from the fence-line, to the the front of the house. And I built a retaining wall there, and...

    The house holds many memories, the last few months of which are too painful even now to recall. It was the house where I wrote my dissertation, after I said goodbye to my father (who at 69 died way too young). And it is the house where we brought home #2 (who takes his middle name from my father) from the hospital. We loved that house. But right now, we're ready to say goodbye. Ours has been too long.

    We've decided to lower the price to unload it. Good luck with your plans. You've taken such care in preparing the place. I'm sure your trek will be more pleasant than ours has been.

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