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Where we are now

May 29, 2012

I’m sitting on my porch again, and it’s beautiful. It should be. I had the floor stripped and repainted, the screens redone, and spruced the joint up mightily. It’s time to list the house again. This time I’m serious. The slanting floors are being replaced and structurally re-configured at great expense, and things I’ve been meaning to paint for years are finally getting painted. I have been madly pruning in the yard. I have thrown away bag after bag of detritus, donated carloads of clothes/books/furniture/appliances, watched as passers-by removed item after item from the curb. (I should hold a garage sale, but there is something deeply gratifying about putting things out front with a “FREE” sign taped to them, and seeing who stops to pick them up. And god knows I have scavenged plenty off of the street–everything from armchairs to easels to oriental rugs–in the past.)

With help from my boyfriend and consoling-windows friend and my kids, I’ve filled a dumpster with–let’s be blunt, shall we?–crap from a decade’s worth and more of family life. A giant house, a garage, and a basement make it all too easy just to put the broken television set, the outgrown bicycle, the slightly-flat basketball, the ancient Macintosh computer, the crib and its mattress, et cetera et cetera somewhere other than the municipal dump, or Goodwill. We have cleaned and re-caulked, disassembled and reassembled various items of furniture (the bunkbeds are no more; the old smelly sofa is gone forever) culled the shelves of books (a phrase I never thought I’d type), rearranged, stored, stowed, dusted, wiped, vacuumed, and mopped. I’ve pruned and planted, weeded, raked, clipped, repotted. And nothing is quite finished, of course, but the end is finally in sight.

Will it all have been in vain–more work by far than I did the first two times I listed the house, more extensive repairs, more cosmetic touchups, more money by a factor of about twenty (my ex-husband, though he does not help, is bound by the terms of our divorce agreement to help pay) spent to try to sell the house? This time, as I said, I am serious, this time I have had enough. I wanted to sell as long as three years ago, of course, but back then the habit of living here was still very strong. When I think that I could have moved out in the first place and left my ex-husband here, and that I did not, I could weep. 

But there is no point second-guessing decisions made by whoever I was back in the throes of separation and divorce–I did the best I could. I honestly thought that the kids needed to stay here, and that I needed to stay with them, though I now think I was wrong–I think I could have taken even a tiny apartment somewhere close by, and they would have been fine. But no matter. All I can do now is finish what needs to be done, and try not to think about how little control I have over any of this.

The contractor claims he’ll be finished with the floor/ceiling repairs in a week. I’m dubious, but this is certainly good news. There are plenty of annoyances ahead–showing the house, coping with inspections and financing and so on and so forth, finding a new place to live, then moving–even in a best-case scenario. I am trying not to think about what happens in a worst-case scenario, trying (with varying degrees of success) not to fret and worry pointlessly.  Sometimes it all seems rosy and wonderful, and other times I think that I have stupidly thrown a great deal of bad money after good, and we will be stuck here–poorer, but with level floors–forever.

“Fortunately, it doesn’t matter one way or the other what you think,” my boyfriend wisely said last weekend, as we painted the fiberglass garage doors in ninety-degree heat. And he’s right. Whether I feel optimistic or hopeless has no relevance and affects nothing. Whether I find this particular powerlessness Zen or wildly frustrating also has no bearing on what will or won’t happen. I woke at three this morning having dreamed that the car I was driving had careened off a cliff–I watched my sons’ bodies float down to certain death, and knew I was falling too, until I woke up–and lay there trying to sleep for what felt like hours, pointlessly treading the same old ground in my head. Which is, as we all know, a patent waste of time and energy.

Right now the yard is sunny, the birds are singing, the windowboxes are blooming (though I accidentally killed a bunch of petunias by overfertilizing them) and it’s lovely on the porch. The kids and I saw the first lightning bugs of the year last night as we sat out here playing hearts. The cat, amusingly, went nuts trying to catch them in midair in the yard. The swim club is open, and we can ride our bikes down there. The house, once everything is finished, will never have looked more beautiful. Any intelligent person would try to enjoy her uncertain tenure here for as long as she possibly could.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2012 2:45 pm

    Whether you sell or continue to live there you will have bettered your home surroundings. So, there is an argument to be made that either way it’s a big bucket of win!

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      May 29, 2012 2:58 pm

      Except that I can’t afford it, but yes, I know. It will be vastly improved with many things gone, and others transformed, and the repairs were necessary….so. I just reread this post and I’m not quite as gloomy as it sounds…just apprehensive, worried I’m forgetting something or omitting some crucial step. I want so badly to move and yet I have to stay open to the possibility of staying…

  2. May 29, 2012 2:55 pm

    I always think it’s funny how people fix things up in a house to sell it, and then usually the new owners live with those changes and don’t get around to making it the way they would have chosen until it’s their own turn to sell. It’s like no one ever gets the carpet they actually want, they get the carpet the last person wanted. When we pulled the last piece of god-awful fake wood paneling off the walls of our first dining room we sighed in relief, and then it hit me that that was probably the same reacation the people had when they finished putting the last piece of it up.

    Good luck with the sale! And enjoy your level floors while you have them.

  3. Lea permalink
    May 30, 2012 8:58 am

    I’d love to see some pictures of the house; I feel like it’s played such a big part in your life story, that it’s kind of like an additional personality on your blog. If it’s too personal I understand, but I’d love to see it if you’re willing!

  4. Was Living Down Under permalink
    May 30, 2012 12:05 pm

    There is something gratifying about purging isn’t there? I too, love to watch people rummage through curb side junk and carry it off to a new life.

  5. May 30, 2012 10:36 pm

    Good luck with everything! Repairing/fixing up a house has a kind of satisfaction, and I really hope you can enjoy it in the next few weeks while you still live there!

  6. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    May 31, 2012 7:44 am

    Could be a couple of months, could be….FOREVER. Who knows.

    Purging efforts seem to have stalled as I simply shuffle things from whichever room is being painted into a room that isn’t. We are nearing Critical Purge…

    I honestly don’t know why I find this so infuriating and so stressful. It’s just a house, for crying out loud.

  7. June 1, 2012 5:27 pm

    Not just a house. A home. A foundation. Which saw you through your worst and best. Habitat change is always hard.

    Around here there are men who will come with pickup trucks and hand carts and walk around your house and point at stuff, and you nod or shake your head and then they write you a check, load up all the stuff you nodded at, and drive away. It’s great. Maybe they have that around there, too.

    I’ll be sad when you move. I’ll miss your porch. But happy for you. Holding my thumbs you catch a buyer soon.

  8. June 2, 2012 8:51 am

    i realize that you are not prone to leaning toward the esoteric side of things – i believe this is in part because yer brain is so mighty and capable, but i wonder if you are into experiments of the scientifical persuasion…? could it be fun (a challenge! something new!) to try to bend the world with yer (mighty and capable) mind? to just totally and utterly believe the house will sell, and for a good price, too – to spend those nights that you are awake, tossing in bed, leading yerself through a virtual reality of Exactly What You Want To Happen, seeing the details behind yer eyelids, step-by-step, precisely as you wish them to be? i only ask because of my recent experiences of Changing The Unchangeable with my (mighty and capable, but less so than yer) grey matter and so thought i would contribute the suggestion to the conversation surrounding the matter. either way, my twirly, hippie, (probably insufferably) new-age self is sending contingents of house-selling-faeries yer way and wishing you the very best of luck.

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