I’m ready to move. I found the house I love in the location I love, and, yes, it has a white picket fence and a wraparound porch. What else could I possibly need? Of course, it comes with a mortgage. There’s always that part, even when we’re talking about a “dream home.”
But first, I’ve gotta’ sell this house I’m in. Tomorrow is our second Open House from 1 to 4 pm. Somebody’s out there who will come along and love this one as much as I did 11 years ago. It’s bound to happen. I just need it to happen within 30 days. That’s the timeframe of my accepted purchase agreement with contingency. The sellers of my 1900-ish seafoam green house on the corner, as referenced above, expect me to be ready in 30 days — which has already shrunk to 20. Eek.
So what do I do when I start to panic about such things? I look to my favorite poem, and we’ll get to that shortly. But back to my panicking…
Yes, I know I’m supposed to remove all signs of personalization from this house before showing it to strangers. But I cannot bring myself to do it entirely. I did take down most of our family photos. However, I cannot magic erase the homemade growth wall away. I tried. I just cannot do it. I’ve decided though if someone comes through this house tomorrow and takes great offense at my children’s heights marked on the wall in pencil since 2010, then so be it. Those people can keep on looking. If they don’t have a sentimental bone in their bodies, I don’t want them to live here anyway.
After all the purging and packing and hauling and cleaning and staging, that wall is what stops me in my tracks. It’s the symbol that best represents our decade-plus of growth in this house and with these kids, and my gosh, moving sucks.
But just like like last time, I left one house broken-hearted and crossed the threshold of this new one encouraged and hopeful and excited. This house has given me mixed memories, but many, many happy ones that I will pack away in my heart, wrapped up in protective, emotional bubble wrap for life. I am obsessively grateful to be moving on to the third house I’ve ever owned and the first one I’ve ever owned all by myself. But before that can happen, panic. We need that special somebody to come along. My Buyer.
It might be a husband who convinces the wife to love it or a wife who persuades the husband. (“Happy Wife, Happy Life” they say!) Or maybe the kids will nag their parents into loving it. After all, we serve Break & Bakes at our Open Houses! So clearly this is an awesome house with awesome owners. And there’s a fenced yard for the dog and a big carpeted basement for a new ping pong table. There’s something for everyone here — enough to look beyond a few stains on the carpeting and 19 year-old oak kitchen cabinets. Just paint them gray! Everybody wants gray kitchen cabinets these days.
My Dear Home Shoppers, you are right about one thing. JoJo Gaines did not decorate my house, so please quit complaining about “interior needs improvement” on my showing feedback form. I decorated it — a full time working (now single) mom who commutes 2 hours per weekday and writes a blog in the middle of the night when she cannot sleep. (Timestamp: 4:27 am) So forgive me if this place is not perfect.
Am I defensive? Yep. After all, my house does not smell like cats, even though that’s what another recent visitor has claimed. My cat died in October, and I’ve had carpets shampooed and a professional cleaning lady here since then – not to mention we’ve vacuumed and mopped and scrubbed this place several times. Maybe it’s my pig-like pug you’re sensing in the air over the scent of my Lavender-Vanilla Wallflower. That’s far more likely. She snorts and grunts and sweats and lays around on the couch for most of the day. Surely, that’s who you’re detecting. Not a cat.
What about curb appeal? Thank you to the viewers who accurately deemed it “Excellent.” Yes, indeed it is. Wraparound porch and all. I even planted yellow pansies, and who even bothers with PANSIES. The name itself implies that no one does. They are for sissies, and they die within a month. At this rate, mine will shrivel up before my purchase agreement expires. To the people who claimed “cat odor” and rated my curb appeal only “Good,” well, we already know all about them.
This rant would not be complete without me mentioning the couple I will call “Cindy and Brandon” – names changed to protect the guilty. The infamous Nosy Neighbors who showed up here at the stroke of 1 pm during our first Sunday Open House. My Realtor, who we now adore and consider a family friend, greeted them at the door and quickly learned they lived here in the neighborhood. Nothing shocking about that. There are always Open House snoopers, and I’ve been one of them in the past. But Cindy and Brandon were unique. Not only did they want to know all about the house, they had several questions about my personal situation and why I was moving. Apparently, they wanted “The Scoop” about me. Ha! This is quite simply hilarious… and rude. Thanks to the inquisitive and distracting nature of Cindy and Brandon, my Realtor burned the Break & Bakes. So rather than a freshly-baked cookie smell wafting through the house, she had to burn countless candles to cover up the chocolate chip char scent instead.
So here I am on the eve of my second Open House, not sleeping, blogging and panicking. Thank God above for my favorite poem, written by a man born right here in Indiana and a fellow alumnus of my beloved DePauw University, where he attended 75 years before me. To the late Mr. Ehrmann, I say thank you for your wisdom, your calming spirit, and your lovely thoughts all wrapped up in this prose-poem that has brought me peace for the past 20 years since I discovered it. The title means “Desired” and defines what the poet wanted out of life for himself and what he highly recommended to others.
I have this hanging on my oldest daughter’s wall. I think at our new (actually it’s really old) house, I will display it in a much more public location like the kitchen or the living room so our visitors can see it and enjoy and soak it up for themselves. It’s advice that’s too good not to share broadly, which is why I’m sharing it now, at a time when I do need to be “gentle with myself” and “keep peace with my soul.”
This poem is the feedback I need to hear right now. I hope you will adore it as much as I do. I hope you will hang it on your wall.
On the Move,
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.