Thursday, September 6, 2012
For all of the angst and drama, hard work and worry, mood swings and paperwork and more paperwork, the thing is done. We are moved. We have moved. We have packed up, or given away, or thrown out the entire contents of our home of 22 years and moved the boxes and furniture and ourselves to our new home.
There were a couple of things about the whole process that really hit me hard. I was totally unprepared for the emotional side of the process. Only part of that is the journey of letting go of the place where Ken and I really got our life together underway, the place to which we brought our baby boy home from the hospital, the first home we bought. The gardens we worked on and created from nothing, filled with plants placed in memory of loved ones lost, or plants that forever reminded us of the day or the place we first got them. The scratches and chips here and there that had stories that went with them. That was the stuff I expected to have to face, and all in I would have to say that piece of it was easier than I thought it would be.
But there were these other lessons in store for me that took me totally by surprise.
I was unprepared for the huge, huge portions of uncertainty and ambiguity that get served in this process and how hard it would be for me to live with that. To find ourselves with a buyer for our house but no house found yet for us to move in to. To have to really define what we did and did not want, and what we could and could not afford, to have to face who would be compromising and who would be getting more of his or her wishlist boxes checked. To imagine a place already inhabited by a family somehow becoming OUR place. (We bought our first house pre-construction, so no one lived in it before us!)
The big one was the uncertainty. I kept being hit with that lesson like a wave crashing over me; as much as I think I manage change well, I discovered that I do NOT manage the complete unknown well at all any more. I believe that piece is about not having my life be just about me anymore, but the weight of the responsibility of knowing that my family is counting on me to make a home for them and to know where that home is – that it will be safe and feel like home. Just taking deep breaths and having faith that it would come together was important, but it was very, very hard.
The worst part kind of all got boiled down on that night when we had moved everything out of our old house but wouldn’t be doing the legal pieces and moving into the new house until the next day. To have leapt but not landed. To feel myself suspended in that space and having to reassure Ken and Dean without truly knowing myself what was ahead. There were a number of late challenges with the literal process and timing of the two sales, and we didn’t know right up until about noon on the big day whether or not we would actually get into the new house. It got to the point where I truly had to accept that big pieces were out of my hands, and as desperately as I might have wanted to hold them tight. I did finally reach a point, for my own sanity, where I let go and believed the lawyers who said that things would somehow work themselves out, sort of.
And somehow, they did.
There are still challenges and adjustments. I remind myself how lucky we are – we have a lovely home in a place that’s safe (I think about how for so many in the world that is an unimaginable luxury). Being our first “used” home, and one that’s core is 35 years old, we are getting used to discovering things – some good, plenty enough not so good (the list of what needs to be replaced or fixed is growing a tad more quickly than we’d hoped. ) The house has been added on to twice, and at one of those points the entire original house was gutted and re-done; the result is one house that flows nicely from space to space and has a unique floorplan. But, it also means that some windows are very old, some floors are noticeably less-than-level, and stuff like that.
I did know that I dreaded the Mountain of Boxes. And so I do.
But this place also has a yard like no other and a lovely small pool. Sitting out there feels truly like being on vacation (except for the part where when you are on vacation you usually don’t start making mental lists of the plants that should be torn out or moved or added, or where the firefly lights should go, and whether it makes sense to add a vegetable garden…).
The neighborhood is more populated than our old one (hard to beat a cul-de-sac with 6 other homes where everyone is on at least two acres), but it is SO much closer to stores and movie theaters and we were EVEN able to have a pizza delivered – right to our door! – which is a luxury I haven’t known since my Chicago childhood. A neighbor already stopped by with a gooey plate of brownies and a warm welcome (although perhaps a little diabolically – she runs a women’s fitness center and I certainly feel the need to check it out after having wolfed down so many of those brownies!).
Where I am rambling to with all of this, for now, is that I do still believe change is good. I think it’s important to shake things up sometimes and start fresh. I now believe that houses themselves need it – they need someone new every now and again to care about the things that, once we live in a place for a while, we tend to overlook. We’re working in different ways, thinking different thoughts, waking up to a slightly different mix of birdsongs and neighborhood sounds, and finding out what it means to be home.
[Please excuse the oddly random photos; I hadn't been taking many pictures because I didn't know where my cable was, etc. These are from the day we moved in and reflect my inability to think much about what I was doing -- so no pictures of the front of the house yet and all...]