I swirled my finger on the screen of an I-Pad creating a signature that looked more like a four-year-old’s Etch-A-Sketch doodle then something normally found on the bottom of a legal document. Next, with little fanfare but much difficult hammering, digging, poking and wedging, a metal For Sale sign was finally wrestled into the famous hardened Texas summer clay/mud lurking just below my semi- pseudo-manicured-ish front yard grass. Was this a mystical sign from Mother Earth saying ‘don’t go’ or just another example of how every easy task this year seems to have turned out more difficult than it should have been.
After a few more obsessive swipes of touch up paint, caulking and cleaning the wife and I decided 9 hours of back breaking labor was enough; at this point anything else we might do or not do was not going to affect the listing or sell price of our ex-home, so we called it day. What happens is out of our hands now. I loaded the cars with that weird assortment of left for last odds and ends. A mixture of ‘I might still need here’ tools, paint and cleaning supplies along with that last strange little pile of ‘do I move to the new house or throw away’ stuff that that did not make the keep cut on the previous dozen trips.
“Do we need this cut piece of 2 by 4 wood at the new house?” I yelled from the garage through the now oddly echoy empty entrance way. “What about the ¼ full bag of Quikrete, the mop handle with no pad or wing nut on the hinged paddle or the faded cracked thermometer still hanging on the back porch that I think was a housewarming gift from somebody nine years ago?” She replied with a quadruple ‘no’ that reminded me of my long ago single days trying to extend an evening with a possible new friend at a closing-time pub. “Okay… ummm, yeah” I said in a voice that sounded more like Lumbergh than I had planned, “I’m gonna take that thermometer anyway, okay?” Expecting a ‘why did you even bother to ask’ which again was the similar reply to single Dan’s late night bar propositions of yore.
And so went what likely will be our last full day together at the old house. Maybe now we can start dealing with the 500 boxes in the new place, also known to the cats as the coolest multi-level play maze ever. I assume we will still be in and out of the old house a bit as our trusty realtor starts dragging critical eyed strangers through the sterilized, neutralized personality-less shell of our previous happy home. She wisely recommended painting over our bright red, silver, blue and black accent walls along with removing the red bedroom carpet. We understood not every potential buyer would like our Pee Wee’s Playhouse-ish decor sense.
About halfway through the move I noticed my wife had shifted to calling the old place her ‘dream house’. I am confident our new home can be pretty damn dreamy too, once we get the kinks worked out, but I have been trying to resist the urge to slip into ‘guy fix-it mode’ and let her ease into the change at her own pace. The new Casa de Dan y Dawn has some pretty cool features and is in an amazing location but it is 30 years older than our last place. Because of that, no matter how good a shape it might be in, it will always have more quirks. I think of how my body worked 30 years ago verses the way it is now. I still get around just fine, thank you, but I have a lot more aches, pains, creeks, cracks and plenty of things that work but just not quite as good as they used to three decades ago.
I really, really want my wife to be happy and I know she eventually will be but unfortunately every time I see her start to fall in love with the new place, something else breaks and I see that ‘I just bought a money pit’ look in her eyes. Nothing is critical and it will all get sorted out but we have been focusing so much on prepping the old house for sale that we have completely ignored the task of turning the new house into a home. All we have done is address problems so I think it has skewed our view.
Were those cracks in the wall always there? Are we supposed to have hot water? Are all the kitchen electrical outlets supposed to work? Until we have the time to dig in, unpack and make a new dream house maybe I should try to use my old advertising skills to subtly put a positive spin on things like when you call an unsightly mole a ‘beauty mark’ or when you call processed meat leftovers ‘deviled ham’ or when you refer to a scary snake as a ‘danger noodle’ or when you call a spooky graveyard a ‘campground for those that have passed’. Of course that task is actually very easy here because the place really is crazy nice; it just does not feel like ours yet.
We moved to make our lives easier, which is hard to wrap our heads around when we think of how difficult the past couple of months have been, but given time I am confident all will be well… if we don’t kill ourselves or each other getting there. I was really hoping this major change would be a distraction to all the other stresses in our lives this past year but it seems to have had the opposite effect and just added and exasperated things. Instead of enjoying the process of cleaning out the massive excess in our old house, hunting for a new neighborhood and putting together a new fun place, our lack of sleep and a feeling of being overwhelmed by how much has to get done, has made us depressed, tired and snippy with each other.
Please don’t take all this negative grousing the wrong way. We really did move into a dandy place in an amazing location for us. But it’s like the last leg of hiking up a mountain. You know just around the next few bends is that beautiful view from atop that will make it all worthwhile but that last part is steep, hard and tough to navigate. You constantly question yourself if it is worth all the work and effort. We will get up there and it will be great… but maybe I can take a short cut to that peak and make it easier by building a giant staircase out of our 500 unopened moving boxes.