Monday, October 26, 2009

If these walls could talk...

Eleven days until we close on both houses. Eleven days...

Yes, the selling part of selling a house without a realtor was actually pretty easy. Assembling the documents necessary for sale was not too taxing. Stressing about all of it has stunk like earthworms after a drenching rain.

I'm somewhat torn as the couple who has bought our house seems lovely, yet completely handy-man-helpless. As a result, we've had to make some last minute repairs and they now want to inspect the repairs. As if they would really know what was different... Some of the stuff was pretty minor -- like replacing a pane of glass in a window. They wanted to know if we'd had an estimate done to fix it. Umm... nope. The estimate is $15.00 for a sheet of glass and about an hour of Scott's time to replace the glass, re-glaze, and put a couple of coats of paint on it. Woo-hoo... But we did it as we were concerned that they would try to extract money for a $300.00 repair or something from the price of the house.

That's the part that has me a little stressed. We're not anonymous to the buyers. In fact, they know where our new house is as they, too, looked at it. Their adorable little daughters will be in school with our kids and we're bound to run into them here and there around town.

Are they gonna talk smack about us if, five years down the road one of our repairs goes bad? Are we forever going to feel like we need to hold our breaths lest a completely normal conversation contain the words, "So the deck fell in last night..." Even though the deck is actually in better shape than it was when we moved in, that kind of anxiety. We didn't sell them a lemon. We disclosed everything that we knew about the property, and then some. We completed all five of their requested repairs. We're ready to move onward and upward and north of town to our new home.

I'm sure there will be a moment of sadness as we close the door for the last time, knowing that we brought our babies home there and that our first memories as a family were created there. Thank goodness for photos! Thousands of photos documenting every step as we redid the house, scraping lath and plaster from the walls, re-wiring, re-plumbing, re-everything-ing. Images of my kids in the yard, sleeping in their beds, bathing in the tub... Snapshots of holidays and birthdays and just the joy of day-to-day life... These will always live on in my heart.

But it's time for a new family to grow in the house. And I'm not sure that the sole factor of owning the same house ties us an any way to the new family, much as they try to invite us for dinner and chit-chat as if we were friends. Maybe we will be some day? Who knows? Maybe Violet won't remember living there when she's invited over for a birthday party... I don't know. I do worry that we might get a panicked call some day, "Help! There XYZ happening and we don't have so much as a hammer! What do we do?" Will we be tied to the house as a retained handyman? Offered dinner to "Please come fix ABC!" How bizarre is it to step into a place that holds so many cherished memories, to reach for a glass and open the cabinets to find someone else's stuff? To sigh over wallpaper they stripped, not knowing how arduous the task of hanging it was -- to feel like a stranger in one's old home.

Truth be told, we never expected to be in the house for almost nine years. It is a starter home and we weren't planning to stick around the area for a decade. Our plan was to get Scott some teaching experience, then move to a larger university. But the rigors of working at a larger school, the academic pressures required to gain tenure seemed detrimental to what we wanted in life and with our family. And now we're staying put, just as surely as we thought we'd be leaving in 2005, 2006, 2007... We never intended to move back to Iowa, and now, it appears, we never intend to leave.

Sometimes I feel like I am shoehorned into a life I wasn't intended to live -- that my psychic twin is living on a coast, dining daily on sushi and living in a yoga studio and the I am the imagined twin planting my roots back into the Iowa soil where I was raised. I daydream about the places I'd like to go and the things I'd like to see and know that, for now, it's going to be a while before we can afford to travel the globe.

But then I take Milo to preschool and one of his classmates squeals, "It's Milo! Hi, Milo!" and he lights up, thrilled that his friend is glad to see him and I know that we are making the right choice for our family by living in a place that has soil rich enough to sustain our needs. Mount Vernon isn't a bad place -- it's an affluent, liberal, artsy community. I believe that it is safe, it has good schools, and we can reach nearly everything we need by driving a short distance to Iowa City or Cedar Rapids. Our community is growing, and if we were to get involved more deeply, we could have a large impact on the direction it takes as it grows. This is not a bad place to take root.

And so, little house in town, we're leaving you for a larger house on the prairie. I hope that you bring your new family as much fortune as we had while living there. Adieu...

1 comment:

Ht. Tom said...

What a beautiful post! Thanks LLM.

-Your imaginary other side living on a coast.