We signed the papers and the “For Sale” sign appeared in the front yard the next day. The sign’s presence makes me happy -- and sad. It reminds me of many good times in the past, and also of good things to come.
Earlier this year, we decided it was time to move. We’ve lived in the same house for 27 years, having it built to our specifications when we were 20-somthings with a dog, no kids, and our whole lives ahead of us.
Through the years, we’ve maintained, updated, raised two children and numerous pets, renovated, and landscaped. We’ve celebrated new beginnings, bid fond farewells, and hosted countless birthdays, holiday meals, Scout meetings, and sleepovers within the house’s walls. In return, our house has provided us with shelter during storms and a comfortable place to live and just BE.
And with the sign’s arrival began the process of de-personalizing our home and preparing it to be marketed in the sluggish housing market. Wallpaper? Get rid of it. Paint everything neutral. Family photographs and knick-knacks? Remove them. It’s hard for potential buyers to visualize themselves in a home if it’s filled to the rafters with someone else’s stuff. Those little fix-it projects that got put off? Do them NOW. Most people don’t want to buy somebody’s problems. Our local hardware store and a nearby Lowe’s store have become frequent stops.
At our realtor’s suggestion, we decided to continue living here until the house sells. So after removing boxes and bags of stuff and extra furniture, plus deep cleaning, our old friend is “on the market.” The hardest part in all of this is keeping the place looking pristine and shiny while it continues to house three people and two pets. We’ve had realtors and potential buyers come through (sometimes with just a few minutes’ notice), a deal that almost happened but fell through at the last minute, and comments both positive and negative.
What I’ll miss the most is our back yard. When we took possession of the property in 1985, there was no “yard” – just a newly-graded section of dirt. In other words, we started with a blank canvas.
Through the years, we planted, pruned, transplanted, and divided countless plants, bushes, trees, and flowers. I brought seedlings and plant cuttings from the yard of my childhood home in Tennessee. I went to my mother’s farm and dug up buttercup bulbs that had been planted by my great-grandmother in the early 1900s. Friends passed along herbs and various perennials, which I promptly planted. The seasons passed and we developed a beautiful back yard.
And with the plants and fauna came the wildlife. There was the raccoon our dog chased up a maple tree. There was the duck that insisted on living beside our driveway for two years. There were also turtles; frogs; countless squirrels and rabbits; a family of skinks; many generations of cardinals, mockingbirds, and swallows; a few moles; and even several small snakes. In truth, the yard was never really ours. We simply shared it with the creatures already living there.
What we purchased and plan to move into is a 20-yearoldhome with “good bone structure,” but, like many of us of a certain age, in need of somecosmetic updates and a little TLC. It also has numerous mature trees and beautiful landscaping. We met one of the sellers o the day we closed the sale. With tears in her eyes, she told me of the many memories the house held for her and her family. I promised we’d take good care of it.
As a sentimental plant lover, I’ve transplanted dozens of bulbs, herbs, and seedlings from our current residence to the one we hope to move into later this year. Sadly, we can’t take our beautiful apple trees with us, but we plan to plant some in our new yard. On a positive note, our new yard has two mature cherry trees that are loaded with tiny cherries. Guess I’ll need to research cherry recipes and add them to the collection of apple recipes!
I’ll no doubt shed a few tears when we finally move everything from the old house. It’s played an important role in our lives for more than a quarter century. At the same time, I’m anticipating making many wonderful memories in our new home. After all, change is part of life!