After shipping the kids to the grandparents and a glass of wine with lunch, my brain activity seems to have calmed somewhat after the insanity that was this last week and weekend. Phillip and I are hanging out at the local Panera, hanging out in front of our respective laptops, waiting out the last half hour of our open house and somehow, everything feels fine.
On Wednesday last week our agent, a maddeningly calm sort of person, called and asked us how things are going, how we were doing and maybe would we be ready to go live on Friday instead of Monday? I spent the rest of that day in a state I described to friends later that night as Tightly Controlled Panic. I think on the outside, I looked pretty capable, extremely focused and managing quite well thankyouverymuch. In my head I was going INSANE. I don't know how many times that day I stopped everything I was doing, stood still for five seconds and waited for the breakdown to happen. It never did. I got everything done, absolutely everything that absolutely needed to happen, by Thursday night. The kids woke up the next morning, I left them in their cribs while I took a shower and then we immediately drove to my parents' house. At 7:30 in the morning.
I was a wreck all day long. I hit refresh on our Redfin page about nine thousand times, waiting for the pictures to show up. I worried about what the agents who toured our house in the morning thought of it, if Phillip left things neat in the afternoon in case anyone wanted to see it. Was the duvet fluffed? The shades up? The counters wiped down? Did I forget a baseboard or the kids' plastic water cup in the bathroom? Did I leave the Mickey Mouse stepstool in plain sight? What would people think about two cribs? What if they hated my lime green wall? What if they could tell the linen closet was too shallow? I could hardly think about anything else and I'm sure (I KNOW) my parents were sick of hearing about it and my mom kept saying things like people are looking at the HOUSE not the FURNITURE. But I know that when Phillip and I were townhouse shopping five years ago, peoples' furniture TOTALLY influenced how I felt about the house. I remember one in particular, where the paint colors upstairs were so pretty and the trinkets in the bathroom were arranged just so that I wanted to buy that life.
And when I wasn't thinking about what I had to do to sell the house, I was thinking about whether we should even sell in the first place. In order to break even we can't accept an offer much lower than our asking price. There are lots of rental houses, but most of them look like dumps. And are we being selfish? Entitled? Because this house is beautiful, it's new, it's close to everything we want to be close to and still it's not good enough. The carpet cleaner was telling me about living in a 700 sf house with his wife and three kids until they were in grade school, and he was a great guy and told me this story as part of his House Selling Pep Talk, but I felt SO guilty. Why isn't this house good enough? What's wrong with me?
The kids were up in the middle of the night (we stayed overnight) and I couldn't go back to sleep after I settled them down. And the next day my inner control freak was so anxious to get home. I drove home in record time and saw that there were messages on the phone that Phillip hadn't noticed, that the shades were down, that the sheet on our bed was hanging unattractively from underneath the duvet. THIS IS WHY I HAVE TO BE HOME!
But today? I don't know. I don't know if I just needed a few days' distance from my numerous almost breakdowns on Wednesday, or if I'm just present or I made it look as awesome as possible for the open house. Whatever it is, I feel like it's okay. I feel like it's okay for me to want three bedrooms and a fenced yard, house I can live in until Jack drives me over to the nursing home. I feel like everything will be fine.
After the kids drove away with the grandparents and the agent set up his signs, Phillip and I drove a little bit north to check out a house we'd seen a few days earlier. We're not buying another house - we keep telling ourselves that - but this one looks like the kind of house we want, at a price just barely out of our range. We had to go see it.
It was huge and open and sunny. Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, an enormous kitchen, a family room, an overabundance of closets and storage space, a giant yard with garden boxes and a shed and a beautiful blossoming tree and a deck just begging to host a summer birthday party. It's also the former home of 90-year-old woman, recently deceased, in dire dire need of new carpet, new paint, new appliances and and a good weeding out of the yard, the shed and the garage. The kitchen counters are a horrible pinkish red, the master bath has dreadful tile, there are holes all over the walls in one of the bedrooms, the fixtures are hideous. It smells like an adult family home, and I know, because I used to work in one. It has one of those bathtubs-with-a-door in the half bath downstairs. There's a ramp built over the front steps. The hardwoods need refinishing big time.
And we loved it. We stayed upstairs way too long, long enough for the agent downstairs to know that we wanted it. We talked about what we'd immediately want to fix if we moved in. Where we'd put Jack and Molly. Which bedroom we could double up if we needed to. I told Phillip that there were a million ugly things about that house, but all of them felt manageable and doable and that that was the kind of house I could live in for a long time.
We left, had our lunch out and glass of wine, and here we are at Panera and I still feel fine. I don't feel married to that old lady's house. It's priced pretty low, so it's likely it will be gone before we even have the opportunity to make an offer. And weren't we going to rent for a year or two anyway? But I feel okay, I feel like things will be fine, I feel like we're in a good place and I can sit in this limbo for a little while and maybe this IS horribly stressful and stomachache inducing, but also hopeful? And maybe a little exciting too.