Leaving Home: Stages 1 & 2
This is a possibility—but the words of a local woman ring in my ears: “Well, if you want a music CD, your best bet is to go thirty minutes west or an hour east.”
Hike up your big kid panties.
Time to commit: We engage realtors in Seattle and Dayton, spend a month “staging” our 1954 house, which means getting rid of a fifth of our possessions accumulated in 30 years. Our mantra: Would you rather have this or a happier life? Life always wins. We spend precious funds having the crawlspace, attic, and roof spruced up. Lots of painting, mending, polishing wood floors, cutting back plants, taking excess to the dump, refurbishing the waterfall. In the process, we get rid of one of our favorite things. And, our coworkers, family, and friends are not pleased—sad, angry, or inconvenienced by our defection. This is not a process without collateral damage.
Realtors, everyone, says we’ll sell in a week—five to eight days. Time to do a contingency contract on the Dayton house. First, I want to rent it for a month, so I pry the $1550 for first and damage from my little purse, biting my lip.
Open houses—cats not pleased. U-haul to Dayton where we are both enchanted and horrified by the reality of the house we liked. After two trips and four nights, we recognize this one will not do for us…too old, too many things to fix, too many stairs between floors for a guy with bad joints. We make a fourth trip to see more homes, have a miscommunication with the realtor, and end up responsible for a tank of oil to heat the elder house we’ve only spent four nights in. Hiking those big kid panties, we note that now our Seattle home has been on the market for about a month with no offers. It’s autumn and the market has suddenly “gone soft”—many owners cutting prices. The next day, my elder car spits up its engine and our last budgeted money goes for a better used one. The following day, it snows and I-90 is backed up for hours...our only route to move between homes.
The next day, my husband’s long-term disability insurance company okays paying him sixty percent of his earnings. With sighs of relief, we toss cat toys across the shiny bare wood floors and tell the realtor to stop listing us.
So, here we are with an imperfect but improved house, $10,000 poorer, but appreciative that we have a paid off home close to every kind of resource including our friends, family, and my jobs. We count blessings that will follow as our income declines—assistance with property taxes and some utilities, for example. COBRA health care for him, Medicare for me. We decide to ignore the imperfections in all these things, the future realities we may have to face, the change of mind we may have to make at a later date.
For now, we have a reprieve—doing our best to make this house, this little section of Seattle suit our needs the best they can. This has been an expensive lesson, and we still don’t know the outcome. However, we’ve had a lot of enjoyment in the home restoration, the travel, the dream of a vintage house…and the relief of giving it up to cuddle up in our familiar habitat for a while yet, at least.
Ariele Huff hosts the Sharing Stories website and is a third generation Seattleite still living in Seattle…so far.
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