You know when there’s something you must do, but can’t face it? You find yourself “backing into” the situation, pretending you’re not really doing it…even though you are? That’s how Randy and I feel about selling our home. We tell ourselves we’re only fixing it up after fifteen years – inside and out– because well… who knows?
Why is the decision to put our home on the market next spring so painful? Why is the thought of selling our place so hard to contemplate head-on? Is that a sign we shouldn’t be going? Or is it just a natural response to change?
We both agree the house has become too large and expensive for three people (we still have one son living at home, but he’s working. It won’t be long before he goes out on his own). It will soon be just the two of us. We use half the space as it is.
And there’s something else tugging at me. I admit to a certain excitement about starting a new chapter. The world is opening up. We can do anything we want.
Still, there are elements to this project that intimidate me…
The prep —
This is a touchy subject. Besides painting inside and out, repairing, and replacing ancient fixtures and appliances, there’s a lot of cleaning to do. Somebody (*cough*) has a lot of work ahead of him.
Randy’s a packrat. I’m a purger. This subject comes with a host of challenges, discussions we’ve skirted around for fifteen years. It actually goes to the deepest division in our marriage. In so many ways, we’re alike. But in this way, we’re different.
Border skirmishes have already broken out. I look around at the “collections” my husband has lugged from home to home over the decades– old albums, newspapers, coins, political memorabilia. What good are they, I ask? Put them on EBay and let ‘er rip. He looks at me horrified.
I gaze around at parts of our house – the garage and basement especially, chock-full of musical equipment, gadgets, clothing, wine, gizmos, and start hyperventilating. We’re giving ourselves six months to purge? We need two years.
The packing – Okay, let’s say by some miracle, we get the house ready. We’ve cleaned out the joint. And my God, what if we even sell? Then comes the next intimidating part.
We must take every possession we own, from chairs to silverware to that last box of macaroni in the pantry, and pack it. Everything.
It’s so daunting. It’s so much work. What if we regret it? What if we miss this house and want to move back? Will it look funny to be found crying under the living room window with the new owners inside?
Or maybe its what a friend told me recently. “You won’t miss it,” she said. “You think you will, but you won’t.” What if life goes on and we enjoy starting this new phase? What if we realize we did the right thing?
Then another friend says the opposite. “Stay. You’ll be glad when you have grandchildren. You’ll be happy you have a big house.”
But neither of my boys are married and something tells me grandchildren are a ways off, and I’m starting to feel isolated in the Connecticut sticks. Somehow it feels right to move on.
And that leads me to…
The Final Goodbye – I can’t imagine standing in this home for the last time. I can’t imagine closing the door on our lives here forever.
This house has brought us happiness. It nurtured and protected and sheltered Randy and me and our children. Our sons grew from little boys to teens to men, with all the birthdays, Pokeman cards, skateboards, teen bands in the basement, proms, graduations and family holidays thrown in.
I walk to the mailbox and can’t help wonder — will this be the last autumn I watch the swirl of golden leaves over the brook in the front yard?
Will this be the last winter seeing snow falling outside the living room window or spring daffodils sprouting in the backyard or summer meals on the back porch?
But if not now, when? Is it time to let another family start their life here?
In the meantime, like people whistling past the graveyard, Randy and I pretend we’re just doing a big renovation. We’ll figure it out next spring, we tell ourselves. But I know which way we’ll go.
Ready or not, a new era has begun. And my God, there’s a lot of work to do.
How do you feel about downsizing? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!