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Posts Tagged ‘starting over’

This past week has been the most emotionally and physically exhausting time of our lives. We’ve sold our house and moved into the home of a very dear friend. We are thankful for his generosity, but are grieving, nonetheless. A part of us is gone. For the first time in our lives, we have no home to call our own.

People quickly find metaphors for times like this. They say that selling our home to correct our financial situation is like an amputation – painful, but necessary to our survival. Someone has said that we exchanged an “ace, two, four, six and seven” for a “two queens, two jacks, and a ten.” Play the hand correctly and maybe we’ll last the entire game.

We’ve imagined the sinking ship, the jump to a lifeboat. Even more so, I found myself comparing our situation to the evacuation of civilians in a war-torn country. Like them, we ran out of time to think. We threw out what we could not carry: items too bulky to transport, some of sentimental value, some, to our frugal minds, still salvageable. We balanced the replaceable value of an item against the cost of storing it; the sentimental value of one keepsake versus another, knowing one would be thrown out. There were sad goodbyes and outbursts of grief that surprised even us. In between, we held on to the sensible logic of the move. “This house is too large for us now. The new owners will be so happy here.” All of it true.

There can never be enough hours to move what amounts to a lifetime of possessions and memories. We filled a twenty cubic foot garbage bin in our driveway, two sixteen foot storage units, and still had to drive five carloads of goods to our friend’s home, forty-five minutes away. We arrived at three a.m.. While others were asleep, we tiptoed inside (limped might be more accurate), dug for nightclothes in hastily packed suitcases, and tried to sleep. My husband’s exhaustion won over and he was snoring within minutes. I lay awake, unable to stop the thoughts looping through my head: the way things used to be and how it came to this, and even more, would we get through it? I closed my eyes and replayed our visit to the lawyer earlier in the week: the look of compassion on his face when he heard about our situation; his quick glances at my husband between each clause of the contract, as he probably imagined himself in our shoes. I heard the words that seemed so out of place as we signed our house away. He said “Life is a journey.” I remembered the way he shook my hand and held it just a little longer than necessary. “Good luck,” he said. I avoided his eyes, because if I looked into them and saw sadness or pity, I would have crumbled.

So here I am, four days after our move, lucky enough to be welcomed into our friend’s big, comfortable home, but still “bleeding on the page,” as someone once said, and likely embarrassing myself. But it is honest and it is real and it is all I know how to be. Faking cheeriness right now isn’t possible.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog since its start might say that this is our roadblock, the biggest one we have ever faced, and that the detour ahead leads to a much better place.

I hope you are right. We are more than ready for a fresh start.

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Today was our thirty-ninth anniversary. It marked more than our thirty-nine years together though. It defined our point of transition, because today the young couple who are buying our home visited us, and our upcoming move became real.

For two months now, we’ve had to keep their identity a secret from our neighbours. The reason? The wife, who I’ll call “T,” grew up on this very street. She went to school with our sons. Her parents still live down the street. And more than anything, she and her husband “P” wanted to surprise our wonderful neighbours with the news that they will be moving into our home. Today was the day.

Could it feel more right? For twenty-four years, we have lived and loved in this home. It isn’t perfect, but it’s part of us, and one of the hardest things about moving was the idea that the new buyers might neglect it, or divide it into apartments as a business venture. Then we learned exactly who the new owners would be, and it was kismet. Bittersweet, but sweet nonetheless. This house will be loved.

While we women chatted, my husband walked the property with the young man who would soon be its owner. He already has plans for what he will do: a treehouse here, extension there, gazebo where the old poolhouse stands. My husband said the conversation reminded him of his own dreams when we bought all those years ago.

There was sadness, which we tried our best to hide. But there was also acceptance and happiness for this young couple. This home needs the spirit that their family will bring. As for us, it really is the right time for us to leave and begin a new chapter in our lives.

Tonight we celebrated our anniversary at a local Italian restaurant. We talked of what the future might bring, of the kind of life we want to live. Right now, it is surreal and a little frightening. We can’t help but compare it to abandoning a sinking ship. For three years, we plugged leaks and bailed out water, but it wasn’t enough. Now we have a lifeboat that’s seaworthy, at least for a while. We just have to find the shore.

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