Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nothing waits

Our peonies bloom and then, in only a day or two, they are done and their petals scatter. We adore them, and understand that we must be vigilant and quick if we're going to see them on their glorious day. I love that I can spy a bud just coming out in the morning and then by the end of the day see the full-blown result.

Summer's coming just as quickly.

Dean will be graduated from 8th grade in 15 days.  He has school on only 5 of those days!  There's a hiking trip up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire next week, and parent-teacher conferences and, oh, field day (a day of fun and games) so really that's 4 days of school.  And then, if I'm counting correctly, 80 days of summer to relish.

Ready or not, here we come.

I want to be sure that in the insanity of moving we don't lose sight of making sure we make the summer count, that we carve out time for mini golf and ice cream and, because I'm free to dream, a trip to the beach.  I wonder if it will make sense to put the badminton net up on the lawn.  Probably not.  Maybe at the new house?  Sleeping in -- we can definitely try to do some of that.  And this really should be the year we go to the drive-in theater that's not too far from here, before we're too far from here.

What I realize is that while time is always whooshing by, there are certain points (big impending life changes and milestones being major ones) that make me so much more acutely aware of how there really is no slowing it down and that it's going too fast.  No turning back, just holding on tight and trying to enjoy the ride. Or, better, throwing your hands in the air and laughing all the way.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Trying to focus on what I'm learning about myself in this process, and breathing deeply to try to bring a state of calm to it as well. I know I can do this, moving forward into the unknown with trust and hope.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where the heart is

I realize, suddenly, that I do expect things to go a certain way.

It's not that I'm not flexible (I think); I can often imagine veering off a particular path and am generally willing to do so.  When Dean and I get into the car at the end of the school day and I offer to take him out for ice cream, or mini golfing, or down to Cape Cod to go to the beach (quite a trek from where we are), I really mean it -- at that moment, I'm willing take a sudden detour (he's yet to take me up on anything, but someday....)

I'm grappling with an intense feeling of seller's remorse, now that it appears we're really on track to sell our home, and I think the reason is because it just all happened a lot faster than I thought it would.  I thought we'd have the house on the market all summer.  I thought we might still be in our house when school starts in September.  I never for a moment thought that 12 days after listing it we would be signing off on an accepted offer (and, as it turns out, to the first person who looked at it).

I do realize that the world of real estate sales is no cake walk, and that there's plenty that could derail this freight train.  But somehow I feel that it really is going to happen (or at least that there will be a back-up for this deal if we end up re-listing).  And that's not at all what I expected.

It's made me review the list of reasons we decided to move in the first place.  All solid, still valid.  It's made me consider my emotional attachments, which run deeper than I realized.

I've lived in many places, but really have only had 2 homes -- the one I grew up in and this one.  And though it totally blows my mind to say it, the truth is that I have lived in our current home for LONGER than I lived in that house in Chicago where I grew up; there's some kind of twist of time and memory at work to make that true in a way I have a hard time accepting.

And the thing, really, that's throwing me for a loop here is that we are NOT finding our next home.  Remind me, people, how ridiculous it is that I'm saying that given that we've only looked at 3 houses so far with our realtor and gone to 4 open houses on our own so far.  On the other hand, I've looked at EVERY house listed in our target towns online so many times that I can look over the list the realtor gave me of all listings in those towns and I know just from the address which house is which.

Why is it that the only people listing their homes are the ones who live in ancient houses, or on corner lots of two busy streets, or next to power lines or within spitting distance of a hospital?  I mean, I GET why those people don't want to live in those houses any more (while respecting that some people are quite happy there, thank you very much), but aren't there people like us with nice houses on nice lots in quiet neighborhoods who want to move?  In the Boston area, you can easily buy a home built in the 1800s, if that's your desire.  It is not my desire. You can also easily buy a home built between 1900 and 1935, and then between 1946 and 1969.  It's not that I don't respect and appreciate history, and it's not that I'm clueless about the benefits of going with what's there; but I'm realistic about our lack of handyman skills and our inability to manage a home that turns out to need drastic electrical or plumbing or mold mitigation work (or the many other pitfalls in owning older homes).

There's very little from the 1970s (which could be a blessing, of course), and then stuff built from 1980 until now is few and far between.  Although often enough, some speculating builder bought one of those older homes on a tiny lot, knocked it down, and replaced it with a McMansion that's STILL on a tiny lot on a busy street (and of course ridiculously expensive).

I did see one of the most beautiful and unusual homes I'd ever seen.  In our price range.  Nice town, nice lot.  We would have needed to add on to it, but there were some possibilities there. However, the owners smoke (cigars and cigarettes), and my research shows me that, particularly given the way this house is built, those chemicals and odors can never be fully removed.  Ken's allergies, not to mention moving Dean into the House of Second Hand Smoke, take this one right off the list.


I guess one reason our house sold so quickly is that we've taken care of it, maintained everything, renovated what needed updating (the house was built in 1990), made lovely gardens, and listened to our realtor's advice about price (most people seem to be living in their own private Idaho when it comes to setting a listing price).  Oh well.

We'll keep looking, of course.  I'll be all on top of those new listings as they appear, and from our research we will certainly know it when we see it.  And buy it, hopefully.  And be able to move in on or before August 1, because otherwise we're hitting the road.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I have found my home
in the garden of a friend
you will find yours, too

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fun breaks out

I begin by giving up any hope or plan to be linear here. Two huge, momentous, life-changing months have passed -- all good! -- and while I truly haven't had a moment until now to try to post, I began by feeling too overwhelmed about where to even begin.  That is, until I decided to just roll and not worry about laying it all out in any particular order.

It does start with Dean, as I think about it -- here, contemplating and experiencing the ocean on the entire opposite side of the country than the ocean he was exploring in my last post. Kind of neat and perfect, if I do say so.  He was accepted at all 3 high schools to which he applied, and he enthusiastically (after about a month of great reviewings and backings and forthings) chose the school we thought was pretty much made for him.  He'll be a day student there of course; I couldn't even begin to contemplate sending him to boarding school. Although I will say that the fact that it does include boarding students really appealed to all of us -- he'll get to meet and make friends with kids from throughout the US and the world. We have visions of inviting his boarding friends over for weekends and holidays when they may not be able to travel home. But that's a side story for now. The big one was just getting through the process, having him get his acceptances, and making The Decision.

And here it is, kind of all falling in time order after all, but seriously -- a day after that, the boy turned 14. Just like that. While mothers anxiously await and watch for and track and celebrate each tiny milestone of an infant, there's this astonishing, magical thing that happens at the twilight of childhood that deserves just as much attention. There's even more happening, and happening even more quickly -- growing up, literally and figuratively. All of a sudden, here's this entirely new, yet entirely familiar person emerging. Capable of so much, so wonderful to be around, so ready to bloom.

 Now is where my story is going to be gaining a kind of crazy and out-of-control speed, just so you know. And Natalie, of course, has already said so much and said it so profoundly; right after Dean's birthday we hightailed it out of town to celebrate -- both his birthday and my own -- by flying clear 'cross the country to California, and our dearest friends whom we'd never met but feel we've always known. Natalie and I met through our blogs (she figures it was 5 years ago, and I believe her), and when Ken started asking me last year about how I wanted to celebrate my birthday it didn't take me long to figure out that I really, really wanted to meet Natalie and her family in person.
We met them one day at the San Diego Zoo -- just like we were old time, all-along friends who just planned a trip together to the zoo -- and then Dean, Ken and I just kept showing up at their house and having more fun than we knew what to do with.
(In addition to meeting Natalie, we also achieved a big wish-list item of seeing real, live pandas.)

I hope that everyone who blogs, and who makes good friends through blogging, makes a point of getting out into the world to meet at least one of those friends. I can tell you that it's better than you can even imagine. For me, Natalie's friendship and the connections between our families is a gift of such magnitude that it goes beyond anything I would have dreamed of.  Usually, you know, when you make friends in your usual walk of life -- people you meet through work or your child's school or sports or your neighbors -- you certainly appreciate those friendships, and when you're lucky they last for years and years, and the friendship itself reveals itself over time and takes the kind of journey that every day life is made of (in the best possible way). It's normal stuff, is what I'm saying. And maybe we should try to stop and feel more fortunate about those connections, and honor the magic that IS in there, too. But this was something, well, special-er. 


To come face-to-face for the first time with people that you've been cheering on and learning about and getting to know online was, for me, kind of like meeting some movie star or something (but better than that, truly).  What I mean is that I felt I KNEW them all already, even though we'd never met -- it's that piece that has the kind of celebrity sighting feel to it. But these are real people who are truly our friends, and we had to figure out together how to BE friends together in person and it all just fell easily into place.

 We hiked at Torrey Pines, just as Natalie envisioned that we would. What delighted me about getting to know her in person was the opportunity to experience the things that just don't come across a computer screen, such as her wonderfully lilting, musical way of speaking. Her sparkling sense of humor is even more effervescent in person, although her humor certainly comes across in her writing.
 See? Dean just blends right in -- one of the gang. He adored all of Natalie's children, and had a particularly nice connection with Max, who is just his age.

Natalie's children adore her, they adore her wonderful husband Geoff, and they adore simply being at home. Who wouldn't, when it IS the place where fun breaks out? We hope they can come visit us someday, and/or that we get to get out there again some time.

 And then, from there, we drove north. Up to Disneyland. I will start THIS by saying that for as long as we have dreamed of visiting Walt's park, we were heartbroken to leave our friends and ultimately did have the BEST part of the trip with them.

 I would like to try to do a separate post about this part -- or maybe I'll just end up dropping in photos along the way --

 Plenty of people don't get the whole Disney thing -- the same ones who can't fathom why, if we've already been to Disney World in Florida we would want to go to Disneyland in California -- and I guess those are people who don't see the value (or haven't experienced the magic) of riding a carousel with your 14-year-old son and your altogether grown-up husband and laughing pretty much the whole time.

Sigh. I do need to go now, and make dinner, and then clean up in a spectacular way because our house is for sale. Right after we got home from our trip we called the realtor, because that new school of Dean's is fairly close to Boston, and Boston is where Ken works, and we live far enough away from Boston now that we need to move closer. We've lived in our house for 22 years, and perhaps when I tell you that there were only 3 weeks between our having that initial meeting with the realtor and today, and you imagine all that it might take to get a house ready to be on the market that has been being filled up with stuff for 22 years (and frankly not cleaned as often nor as thoroughly as it should have been) then you'll further get why I've been away from this space for so long.

I do hope to tell more of our stories, and show more of our pictures, and be back here a little more often now. Even though we've got a mountain to climb ahead of us, I feel such a weight has been lifted that's been on me for a long time. I understand where we're headed, and that was such the great unknown for so long -- and the way ahead seems so inviting and warm and wonderful. Fun will just keep breaking out.