The day of closing was moved up three days. We thought we’d have the long Labor Day weekend to pack up shop; our fleet of friends and trucks at the ready. But when we agreed to move it up, our plans went out the window. Friday became a hectic day of stuffing boxes, no time to say goodbyes or stand in empty rooms watching memories unfold around me. The new owners of our home are lovely, and we were glad to accommodate their desire to move in quickly, but it’s just not the experience I thought it’d be.
When we listed our home just over a month ago, we did it with every intention of taking our time trying to find a new place. Maybe we’d build, even though land was scarce. Maybe we’d find a gem that needed polishing, even though homes in our area were few and far between outside the restrictions of a cul de sac. Bottom line, we thought we’d have time, after all, we’d been through this before.
Last October we’d stumbled on our dream home, put an offer in, and it was accepted. We listed our house and were suddenly flooded with showings; 24 showings in 40 days, to be exact. Twenty four times I had to load my car with all our dirty laundry, cats, three kids, a dog and a litter box to drive around the country roads for an hour or so while strangers meandered around our house decided if they saw themselves there. (This experience, by the way, is why I will NEVER request to be a shown a house I’m not interested in buying. My guilty need for voyeurism doesn’t outweigh the poor folks who scramble to keep their homes clean and allow you inside of it to snoop around at the expense of their hope. Don’t do it, it’s cruel.) Then suddenly, the deal was off the table, and our dream home wasn’t ours to buy any longer. It doesn’t matter why, though we’ve asked ourselves that only four million times, at the end of the day, you can’t force someone to sell you their home, no matter how much you love it.
Having no other house options, and heading into winter, we pulled our home from the market and began licking our wounds. I had never really considered how emotional the home buying process was. I watch tons of HGTV, and heckle the screen during obnoxious episodes of House Hunters, but it never occurred to me just how invested people got into four walls and a roof. We adored our current home, and enjoyed living there, but it didn’t evoke anything in our souls or whatever.
I remember driving down the street on Sunday afternoon, passing our now-lost dream home, and seeing balloons tied to the mailbox, announcing a child’s birthday party there that day, and I lost it. I had walked into that entryway and immediately foresaw every holiday and birthday in that home, and now someone else was experiencing those, not us. I stopped taking that road to town. I couldn’t keep letting one stupid house make me crazy.
A few months ago, we started to refloat the idea of selling our home. The timing was better, being summer, and we felt we’d gone just about as far as we could go in our current home, and were somewhat sticker shocked at the costs of additions and renovations. Yes, our home was lovely, but there were a few things we’d outgrown, namely the lack of privacy and the kids being tired of sharing a room. Jude is four seconds from puberty, and apparently with body odor comes a need for not sharing your space with younger siblings, and we also need the space for out of town guests, we which get often, with all of Andy’s family living out of state and country. I don’t want to touch the boys’ sheets, and I gave birth to them, I can’t ask others to lay down and bath in them over night.
So, we quietly listed our house. I didn’t say anything because when you do something like put your house up for sale, inevitably the next question is always, “now what?,” and to be honest, I didn’t have one single answer for that question.
(So actually, you would know all of this if you followed me on Periscope, a new app (iPhone & Android) from Twitter that allows me to live stream video and interact with you in the process. You can follow me there, my screen name is @brittanyherself. Andy and I live stream from bed, sharing our days and big news, and this particular news item was privy to our broadcasted pillow talk.)
Who knows, we aren’t going to rush it, we want to find the perfect place to lay down roots.
So we listed the house and planned on hunting around and then boom, 3 days after list, before the sign had gone into the yard or the listing had hit the MLS, our house sold to the first couple who walked through.
Suddenly, “Now what?” became I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE!?
Because we’re optimistic and very stupid, we happily agreed to possession at close, and spent our final rushed day in the house with friends able to skip work and help us hastily box up our lives and shove them into a storage unit. The day was frantic. Emptying rooms in a rush then trying to close the door to mark each one done. It’s hard to remember everything, especially the hidden stuff. Did I grab all the lube from the top of the bathroom closet? All the candy bars hidden in my walk in closet? The booze in the crawl space for tornado season? NOTHING GETS LEFT BEHIND.
And so we pulled away, making our temporary bed in a strange guest room, falling asleep to new sounds and smells, realizing very quickly that we’d be spending this time in limbo probably celibate. It was in that guest room that I awoke in a cold sweat one night, realizing that in our messy quickness, we’d left behind something important, and also, so revolting, that the thought of the new owners stumbling upon it is both completely embarrassing and also, a fucking horror movie. Incisors, cuspids, and random pesky molars removed by the dentist. Tiny tooth fairy stolen trinkets that, without any real guidance or handbook on where to put this shit, I lovingly stored pushed back on the top shelf of my medicine cabinet, behind the tiny Bluth Stair Car a reader had given me. In my haste, I’d left behind disgusting human teeth. Of all the things I could have forgotten, this made me the saddest. My mom has a brown jug on a shelf in her living room with the word rum painted across the front, and I remember the day as a kid turning it upside with my brother and having handfuls of old teeth fall out of it. Obviously, our first reaction to that was to assume there were bodies somewhere inside our house. But now as an adult, I appreciate that my mom had saved them, as disgusting as it is.
Now we impose on on the kindness of our family.
Now we all cross everything very hard that we find the perfect spot.
Now I wander around our room searching for things because mother fucker, we packed the checkbook. And the field trip permission slip. And my favorite bra.