Monday, April 22, 2013

Piling On

by Joan

Just one of many stacks of boxes
A few weeks ago I mentioned in a blog post that we put our house on the market and I got a jolt of reality when I learned I had no decorating sense. House staged and ready to go, comments from prospective buyers started rolling in: “Needs too much updating.” We were shocked – we had updated much of our house. 

Mom's gold wallpaper
We were like those old people who think their home is “hip” (when we were selling my mother's home, she absolutely refused that we remove the gold wallpaper and curtains – “That's good stuff!”) 

So, here we were, thinking it might be a long wait for the right buyer. 

The house in showing condition and busy season wrapping up at work, I looked forward to a little extra writing time and perhaps some quick weekend trips to enjoy the Texas five-minute spring. My husband would shoot some photos, I’d jot down some observations for future writing, and we’d have nice leisurely days.

On exactly April 15th, we got a contract on the house (three weeks after we listed it). But oh, by the way, the buyers have three kids under five years old (including a one-month-old) and need to be in the house in two weeks because they’ve already sold their home. Suddenly, we had no place to live and no idea where we wanted to be.

The day after we learned we had to move in two weeks, my back went out. I could barely move, let alone pack or look for a place to live. After a few visits to the chiropractor, I was finally able to sit in a car and off I went house hunting. We decided to rent for a while, but when I began to look at single-family rentals I was gobsmacked at the disrepair and filth of the homes. Stained carpet, empty food containers in the bedroom, sagging floors (not to mention handguns on top of nightstands). One of the owners had the nerve to request we remove our shoes before walking through! I would have given anything for my mother’s gold wallpaper. At least her home was spotless and in good working order.

Finally, we found an empty-nester condo, with a perfect-for-us floorplan, great amenities and solid construction for peace and quiet. One slight problem… the current tenants can’t vacate until June 1, which means we’ll have to stay at a short-term rental for a month. The logistics of moving our house into half storage, half smaller place, half long-term, half short-term has driven me off my self-imposed sugar detox wagon. (Pamela, those frozen lemon cake balls are divine!)

Meantime, my mother fell and earned some ugly scrapes. We’ve been pleading with her to use her walker, but as a prideful eighty-nine-year-old and the spry one at her assisted living facility, she refuses. "I'm too young for one of those cotton-pickin' things!" Before I could take a breath, another family member headed to the hospital. Thankfully after a few days, she’s checked out and back home.

So the two weeks is ticking, ticking, and we’re packing like fiends. In the midst of this, a critique partner called and wanted an emergency read-through on a scene she’s turning in to an editor. So I woke early to read through for her and then got back to the packing grind. I’m not getting any writing done, but my new story is playing in my head while I load and tape boxes, and when a brilliant idea strikes, I stop and send myself an email reminder from my phone.

As I pack, I find memories of our time in this house and others. Today I found my son’s silver rattle, three boxes of Mother’s Day and birthday cards from my guys, and my mother’s typed recipe binder from 1992.

As Susan said in her lovely Friday post, “… step back and take the time to focus on who we love and the joy in our lives, instead of the latest tragedy. Because when I look closely at the past seven days, my life has still been filled with beauty and art, not just the bombardment of tragedies.”

Yes, I've had a piling-on week. But in light of everything that’s going on in the world, my snowballing drama reminds me I have a full life, lots of friends and family to love, and books to read—and write!

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