I am having a little bit of seller’s remorse. I’m having a little bit of buyer’s
trying to keep that in mind as I navigate these difficult emotions.
At first I was caught up in the excitement of finding our new home, so it wasn’t until I started really working hard to get our current home ready to put on the market that I began feeling a little stressed.
The first issues I had, actually, were panicky feelings about the damage we’ve done to this house over the years. The dinged walls, stains on the carpets, places where the kids took a Sharpie to a cupboard door or a pen to the window casing – those all became magnified in my head and seemed like total deal-breakers. The remembrances of septic tank alarms in the middle of the night and standing water in the backyard after weeks of solid rain – those things seemed insurmountable.
And then the listing agent came through the house with her critical eye and tucked all of my favorite things away. Down came my electric tea kettle – stashed in the cupboard. I had to pack the fragile blown Easter eggs the girls made one year in school for fear they would break if I simply put them in a drawer and the agent was certain they ought not to be on display.
“It shouldn’t look like you live here. It should look like someone lives here – someone generic and random, not you. No personal photos. No personalized towels or jewelry, toothbrushes on the counters or worn blankies on the kids’ beds.”
I feel like I live in a model home. And not in a good way.
One day before the Open House, the agent was here with a rag and some cabinet cleaner wiping down all of my kitchen cabinets and scrubbing the wooden pillars on the deck back to white. She mopped the dog prints off of the front door and asked if we had any touch-up paint for a few spots where the kids had missed the keyhole in their rush to get inside.
She assured me this is what she does with all of her clients and that I shouldn’t feel bad about her nit-picking.
She told me the house looks beautiful and it will show well.
And still, I feel like I am only visiting this place. This lovely house that has been my home for over ten years. This place we moved to before Lola was born. The only house she has ever known.
After a busy weekend of showing the house and nine families coming through for Sunday’s Open House, I collapsed in a lawn chair in the backyard yesterday for a few quiet minutes and looked around.
The beds are full of fresh barkdust – still red and cedar-scented. The flowers the girls and I planted to add some color are all standing tall in their pots, glorious after a few days of warm sunshine. The deck and front walk are newly pressure-washed and look lighter and fresher than I’ve ever seen them, and the outdoor kitchen is staged to look like Bubba’s heading around the corner with some thick steaks to lay on the BBQ. This place is gorgeous. This place is home.
Why am I leaving?
I closed my eyes and picture the new house, warm and inviting with hardwoods and sturdy radiators in every room. The magnolia tree in the front yard was blooming the last time I was there and sunlight was streaming through the leaded glass windows.
I forced myself to think back to last Thursday night when I had to pick Eve up from cross-country in the rain. Lola and I reluctantly climbed into the car at 4:15 for the trek across the lake and a few minutes later I realized this was likely to be a long journey. It took us the full 45 minutes to reach Eve’s school to pick her up at 5:00 and the first thing she said when she got in the car, her ponytail dripping steadily into the hood of her sweatshirt, was, “I’m starving!”
We drove back across the lake in the now-rush-hour traffic in the rain and arrived home after 6:00.
This is why I’m leaving.
The new house is 10 minutes’ drive from the school. I could have been there and back inside
But I still asked myself, “Am I doing the right thing?’
Of course it is an entirely moot point at this juncture. We have bought the other house. Closed the deal. Shelled out the money and the check has been cashed.
Besides that, it’s not “I,” it’s “we.” Bubba signed those papers, too. He looked at the house and fell in love, too. He agreed that moving across the lake was the right thing to do, too.
But I am still compelled to ask, and so I did.
Fortunately, I was able to recall asking myself the same question when we bought this house. And frequently over the years as we were forced to install an expensive sump pump and repair the septic tank and grieve over cats lost to coyotes who roamed the neighborhood, I had occasion to ask again.
As I sat there in the backyard looking back at the beautiful house we live in, I felt good. Ultimately, questions, concerns and all, we took this place and made it in to a home. We put our O’Driscoll stamp
some of the most delicious meals of our lives. We have spent evenings shooting baskets with the girls and wicked winters huddled inside near the fireplace when the power went out. We have cleaned up vomit at midnight and laughed until we nearly peed ourselves here. We have barbecued with neighbors and walked their children to the bus stop and received dinners made with love when Bubba was recovering from surgery. The girls have gone from making sandcastles and mud pies in the back yard to skateboarding and painting each other’s nails on the deck. We came in to this place a family of
three with a cat and are leaving as a family of four with a dog, a cat, two hamsters and a fish, richer for our experiences, older and wiser, and ready to move forward to whatever adventures await us next.
These thoughts gave me hope that no matter where we end up, we will manage to make a home for ourselves that reflects who we are as a family and as individuals. And while the stage may be different and we may wish we could take some parts of this place with us, it will be exciting to create new spaces where we can live and laugh and play together. This house, this home, holds a special place in all of our hearts and it will be hard to not be here anymore. It will be difficult to say good-bye. But like Bubba says, “Once you’ve made a decision, it’s the right one,” and so we will look forward to making our newhouse in the city a home for us as we feel the bittersweet sadness that comes with saying good-bye to this one.