Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Closings, The Move and The House.

Back into blogging after a brief break to sell a house, buy a house, move into my parents' house, move into the new house and unpack 5,837 boxes.
Shockingly, it all went smooth as silk. Except when I sobbed at the closing.

There I was last Friday, sitting at a big conference room table, with my steadfast Danny next to me, our attorney next to him (interesting side note: our attorney looked ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like what I thought he would. I imagined a dad-type, mildly schlempy guy with bushy hair. Turns out he's short and thin- he's a triathlete- with reddish hair and very trim and buttoned-up looking. The difference was so shocking and I was so emotionally off-kilter that when I shook his hand for the first time I said, "WOW! I imagined you TOTALLY differently!" Thanks, Brain Filter, for taking the day off.) and the buyers of our house sitting across from us with their real estate agent and the settlement representative at the head of the table (additional interesting side note: the settlement guy was VERY Italian, and the most barrel-chested man I've ever seen in real life. He didn't say much, and mostly talked with the attorneys and shuffled paper around, but was vaguely hot. Like I said, I was a little emotionally off-kilter. And for some unknown reason, he left between our closings- we stayed in the same room to both buy and sell- and took off his tie and changed his shirt, which he unbuttoned about a third of the way down. It was a little jarring.) as we all passed papers back and forth and signed our names. I was pretty agitated during the whole thing, sad and excited and nervous and desperate to get a sense of the people who would soon be living in my house. Unfortunately for me, they were pretty flat and quiet and didn't really offer too much about themselves. So I peppered them with questions, anything to engage them, make them see what a great house they are getting and they gave me mostly one or two word answers. So I start blurting out things that I love about our house (big mistake) and started with the maple trees.
"They're really beautiful trees and they are such a great way to watch the seasons change,"said I.
"Great," they reply politely.
"And on the one side of the house is a little perennial garden, with peonies and lilacs and irises... the irises are from my aunt's garden..." And that's when I started crying so hard that I had to turn my chair around. Because I am abandoning my garden, living things that were given to me by several different family members, plants that were given to me as gifts for my birthdays, and leaving them behind. And they will not be as special to someone else as they were to me.

And the room got really, really quiet.
And finally the buyer's agent said quietly, "You're getting a house that is well-loved."
Someone got me a tissue, Dan rubbed my shoulder and the girl buying our house said very helpfully, "I like flowers."

Part of the problem, I think, was that the day before I went to our house to clean it for the last time. I walked through the empty rooms, the hardwood echoing off all the walls, and as I cleaned the bathroom that we renovated and washed the floors that we refinished and vacuumed the carpets that we laid down all I could think of was the way my family lived and grew in this house. This is where my girls ate their breakfast. This is where I tucked them into bed each night. This is where we opened gifts on Christmas morning. This is where we all sat around the table at dinner every night. I wasn't sad, necessarily, just wistful and flooded with memories. But I think that at the closing, when we physically handed over the keys to our house to someone else, it all hit me that I was never going back to that house again.

Thankfully, our second closing went a little better- the sellers of our new house were very matter-of-fact about the transaction and were lovely people, chatting with us and giving us little bits of information about the house. It all went very quickly and when we were all done, we stood up, shook hands and I blurted out,"We adore the house and will take good care of it!" and I think that what I really wanted our buyers to say to us. Oh well.

The really ironic thing is that we actually did go back to our old house after the closing. We asked the new owners if we could stop by just to have a picture taken of our family of five to match the picture we took the day we bought the house 10 years ago. They said that was fine, and wouldn't you know, as we are standing around, mentally saying goodbye for the last time, capturing the moment forever, all-rosy-eyed and wistful, who pulls up but a contractor coming to give an estimate. A CONTRACTOR! AT MY HOUSE! To do work that I DID NOT APPROVE! Jeez louise! How about letting the ink dry on your new deed before ripping the house apart!?! Man!

In a way, it was a good break for me to make: it truly is not my house anymore and I have to let it go. So I did.
And that was made infinitely easier by going to our new house and imagining all of our stuff being moved in the next day.

Moving in day was also smooth and problem free for the most part; our movers were respectful and nice and laughed at all of my nerve-induced stupid jokes. They did not break one thing, leave one mark, nothing- they were really wonderful. And, as a bonus, one of them looked EXACTLY like Spanish from the movie Old School. His name was Jose and he was awesome.

The moment I was dreading was the moment when the truck was unloaded and they pulled away and we were left to process 11,000 pounds of stuff. Did I tell you that? Our estimates from the movers all calculated that we have 11,000 pounds of furniture, clothing, boxes and bins. Wow. Holy First-World-Consumer, Batman.

But it wasn't that bad. Thankfully, unpacking goes infinitely faster than packing, and we have about an extra 1000 square feet- plus a basement- to put everything in. Our main priorities were getting the kitchen together, then the beds for the kids and us. Our aunt came over and cleaned all the bathrooms for us- a real labor of love. A friend of mine came over that night and organized the pantry and helped with placement of things in the kitchen. My mom watched Alec for me all day and helped manage the kids and our meals. My dad moved furniture from his house to our house, moved furniture from a relative's house to our house, moved our deconstructed swingset, and moved a ton of boxes all day. Michaela, God bless her, unpacked her entire room by herself and worked like a dog to set it all up. It is neat as a pin and perfectly organized. My other daughter, who shall remain nameless, spent the day tearing into boxes of dolls and babies and toys that she'd been separated from for the last few weeks and they are still splayed all over her bedroom floor.

Long story short, we are in this house a week and we are all in love. The house is spacious and airy and we can BREATHE in it. We are really enjoying spending time in every room and getting used to living, really living, in the house. We love our backyard and our deck and have eaten many meals outside. We have a few boxes left in each room to process but for the most part are unpacked. We have pictures to hang, little projects to do, and have spent the last week doing all the kinds of things you need to do when you move into any new place. And it's such exciting stuff: we replaced the toilet seats, changed a doorknob, bought some curtain rod rings to hang curtains, shopped for a new stove (this one works but is pretty beat up and the smooth cooktop has been ruined by someone) and bought a new water filter for the fridge and a new water dispenser drip tray. Whoo-hoo.

The swingset has been re-constructed, curtains have been hung, the garage has been organized and Danny has even washed all of the downstairs windows. The girls have taken (or have been allowed to take) two baths in the garden Jacuzzi tub, though they ask juuuust about every day to take another one.

One of the most exciting things for me has been setting up the dining room. We were lucky enough to inherit a beautiful formal dining room set from our aunt and uncle and it has a china hutch. I was able to fill that hutch with things that I have had for over 13 years but have never had a place to display. My cousin was stationed in Japan for a year and when he came back, he brought me a set of three beautiful Japanese vases. I have moved those vases from apartment to apartment to our old house to this house and now they finally have a proud home in the china hutch.

That alone thrills me.

Contrary to plan, we did not sit out on our deck last week and suck down Sam Adams Summer Ales: I was so tired that I was almost sleeping standing up when Danny finally said to me,"You need to go to bed." But we have enjoyed a few of them this week in the evening and we have the rest of the summer to relax and enjoy them.

We're home!


Anonymous said...

What a perfect summation of your odyssey! You captured all the emotions-sad, wistful, nervous, happy-that accompany a big change like moving. You have done AMAZINGLY well in one week and we predict many years of family happiness in your beautiful new home. Congratulations-you did it! Love, Mommy and Daddy

Anonymous said...

What agony! What joy! What exhaustion! What relief! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us! Love, LW