Last week I closed on the sale of my house that we had resided in for the last 7 years. I had written the note below when I first put it on the market as a love letter of sorts, hopped up on wine and emotions. My plan was to edit it a bit and then actually give it to the buyers at closing which in my wine-fueled cry-fest seemed like a beautifully poetic idea. Then it became one of those ridiculous house deals that so many of them become without warning and while wine-fueled cry-fests continued, they became much less beautiful and poetic.
First the buyers found a silly little HOA rule about only allowing two 2 pets per household and freaked out, requiring me to convince them that the HOA police weren't likely to show-up at the door and demand that they produce all of their pets for a surprise count. Then after a quick walk-thru to show one of their relatives on the day I was moving, it came up that maybe she didn't like the house as much as she liked my stuff. To which I about offered her all of it because packing up all my crap ended up being the most complicated and exhausting thing I've ever done (and we are counting the unmedicated childbirth thing and the divorce thing and that time I had to put together a 324 piece MDF bookshelf from IKEA thing). But we make it to the closing table. An hour late because apparently when you are the buyer you can show up whenever you want. I kid. I'm sure they had a good reason. Like having to get that big down payment check prepared for the SCREAMING DEAL they got but, I digress: we get to the closing table. Where a few extremely random things happen and get said and I immediately get about 50 Shades of Pissed Off and spend the next hour not looking at anyone or saying a word until I signed the last document and I asked my realtor if I was done. Then after wordless placing (okay, slamming) a handful of keys and 2 garage door openers on the table, I stormed out, managing to get to the parking lot before the tear duct cleansing began. No doubt living my unsocial ex-husband who was beyond supportive of the whole thing having to explain that I was tired or upset or drunk or whatever story he went with. Hopefully not "she pissed as hell at you fuckers and here is her new address if you want to talk to her in the future".
Writing is often my go-to therapy, mainly because my therapist is unwilling to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week just for me, and also because sometimes she's extremely rational and that doesn't always work with my pissed-off-ness. In that spirit, I wrote a different letter to the new owners that ended with something like "AND GOOD LUCK TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE GARAGE CODE NOW!". Sadly, given that I moved roughly 8 houses down, they are neighbors of sorts and I decided that maybe it wasn't the best idea to ever let that little love letter see the light of day. And truth be told, I think my realtor has the garage code and would happily give it to them if only because she knows that I am hanging on by a thread and having to field one more thing about that house would likely make me lose my shit in a way I haven't before. At least not in a long time. So, in the name of closure and trying to find crap I can update this damn blog with, I present to you, dear loyal reader (Hi Mom!) my original letter with a few edits………..
Future Resident of My Humble Abode People That Bought My Damn House,
Congratulations-you have purchased a wonderful, lovely, and sturdy home in a
much desired neighborhood, hopefully for top dollar after a long bidding war in which I profited in substantial ways neighborhood with weird HOA rules for an amount that makes me sick and will surely end up being one hell of an investment for you, that perhaps later you will use the profits of to buy a beachfront condo or something, laughing at how smart it was to low-ball a woman desperate to sell and move on right when interest rates went up. It is contains some happy memories, some painful ones, and many more just average in weight and importance. It does not, however, contain any of my personal property that you apparently really loved because you got enough of my very soul already. Purchasing this house was a great dream of mine that didn't work out quite like I thought it would. I know that because I am not currently buried in your backyard which is the only way I had originally said I would leave. I think we are both glad that isn't how you came to own this place though.
While it is lovely and straightforward for the most part, there are some things you should know…….
The stair third from the top squeaks. But for reasons I could never figure out, it only does this if you are leaving a sleeping child in the next bedroom after spending hours trying to get him to fall asleep. The closet in the big bedroom sticks a bit—you'll need to pull on it from the inside. Don't bother with WD-40—it will only serve as a lesson in frustration. Someday you may catch the light just right and see that the wall at the bottom of the stairs has been patched; that happened the first time and last time my youngest was able to push through the gate at the top and luckily only the gate went crashing down the full flight. Also, you'll notice that I have left you a tremendous gift—screws in the most likely places you'll want to hang things (actually, it turns out that in an effort to be helpful, my ex-husband took it upon himself to take all those out the day before closing. Luckily he didn't patch anything so the holes will be real easy to see. Let's call it even for that punch-list of inspection requests you promised you wouldn't ask for when I accepted your offer, but then did, and I kindly completed them for you on my dime).
Use these—they were left by the family that owned this home before me and they are not just well placed, but have been put in properly and with great precision. That and the red and yellow tulips in the front yard were the most wonderful surprises left by them and you will likely enjoy them even more than I did. As for the surprises (let's call them gifts!) I am leaving you…….
I have a big DIY spirit with slightly less know-how. Every light fixture in this house has been replaced. A few just days before you saw this home for the first time. The green dining room? It's been beige, purple, blue, and chocolate, and it's never been used as a dining room. I hope you wrote into the contract that you wanted to keep the black bookcases on either side of the fireplace that were used as faux built-ins (you didn't. Good luck trying to figure out a seating arrangement that works!). If you didn't, you'll find that the quote to do it for real comes back several thousand more than believable. Plus, you'll want to put wood floors in there first, so let's call that the 10K project I never got to. Maybe you'll get to it. But tackle the backyard first. And while we are talking about the backyard…..I'm sorry. I'm just not the gardening type. I'm not even the "outside" type. The brick patio works well for toy cars though. And kids do learn how to short throw as to not land footballs and such over the fence, but until they do, both neighbors are nice about you going and retrieving what inevitably ends up over there. Plus, since I graciously left the trampoline at your request, your kid will have plenty of other things to play with.
Speaking of neighbors, you have a lot of them. A young family to the west—people I thought that I would watch their kids grow a few years behind mine but will probably not talk to near as much in the future. To the east—he is endearing if you give him time. He's had a tough life but has a good heart and lots of tools. Try not to catch him on an off evening or it will be a long conversation for you and whatever you do, don't get him started on the HOA; that's a passionate conversation that no amount of vodka can make pleasant. Across the way you will meet a row of 5 different families of all shapes and sizes. They will tell you if you leave your garage door open late at night or if your sprinkler system is leaking. They will likely even snow-blow your walkway—and it's a long one so don't screw that up. And all of them always have a cup of sugar or an egg and are used to the people living in this house, not.
A family of bunnies lives under the front porch. Just let them be—they are really no trouble. Monday is trash day which is good if you entertain but is a true bummer of a long week if you forget. Both of my sons came home from their first day of kindergarten here and if you lean just right from the master bedroom, you can see the bus stop and watch your children safely board. Or maybe you'll be more social than I was of late and actually hang out with the other parents there. My divorce was decided in the kitchen, but nothing was thrown so you won't find any evidence of this. My dog died in the front hallway, but again, you'll likely never know this. In the summer when the trees are at their full glory, the whole upstairs feels like a treehouse. Try to remember this when you are noticing that the AC never kicks in upstairs like you want it to and maybe the treehouse bit will be charming. This is also likely when you will be grateful for the remote-operated ceiling fan in the master bedroom that I installed myself—a project that tested my physical strength and electrical abilities far greater than I imagined possible and didn't end until months after it had started. It's no small miracle that every light switch in that room works as it was meant to and that it's all to code—something I was able to make sure of after dating an electrician, which in itself would have been something handy to have done before starting the project on my own. I spent a lot of time in an adult version of a time-out in the master closet. If this is something you end up doing, a pillow can be nicely stored under the shelves and both the cell phone reception and wifi signal in there is fantastic.
I was always going to change the outside light fixtures…….pull out the dogwoods in the back…….put knobs on the kitchen cabinets…….paint the island……replace the fireplace surround with slate……but I didn't get to it. You see, everything that was done to this home I did on my own. And a girl can only replace so many light fixtures and paint so many walls before she realizes this wasn't the original deal. And then she gets really tired. There isn't a corner of this home that I haven't touched, that I don't know by heart. There are Legos in the vents. Dog hair buried deep in the carpet. And a lot of random paint choices that didn't turn out exactly as I expected.
My kids didn't take their first steps here. I never could get a living room furniture arrangement that worked well. And the half bath downstairs drove me crazy from day one. But…….my nurse friend pierced my ears in the master bath. I was 32 and it was a bloody mess, done in whispers because the kids were asleep down the hall. I tried pot for the first time at the age of 29 in the garage. (Don't worry—that didn't happen much.) I had my first huge fight with an 8 year old in the upstairs hallway and the reason the door to the far bedroom swings so quick is from constant slamming, that was no doubt involved in said huge fight. The kids bathroom is my masterpiece; you will likely hate it, but as you are changing it, know it took me 3 years to get it that way. For two months I shared this home with the man you met at closing after we had decided to divorce. And on that note, I can tell you that anything you say in the master bath, in even the quietest voice, can be heard in the guest bedroom.
There are outlets in all the right places. In all the faucets, hot is actually hot and cold is actually cold. The garage can hold more than you will ever need to store in there, possibly compelling you to bring more stuff home if you are anything like me. There is excellent hidden storage for Santa just under the stairs in the basement. And if you have talked me into leaving my beloved washer and dryer (you didn't--I won that one, suckers!), you will love them almost as much as you love the big fancypants refrigerator. If I may offer you a little advice—take the change filter light seriously because water goes from tasting perfectly fine to like you're sucking on a penny in about a day. And so you never have to wonder, allow me to mention this: there is no possible angle that allows viewing into the master bathroom window, so you can walk around in there naked as the day you were born. You know, if you're into that.
I leave behind a shell. It has great and beautiful possibility. I take the memories, both good and bad, the karma, and unfinished hopes with me. So that you may start fresh here, perhaps creating what I was never able to in this space: comfort.
Oh, and the driveway gets really slick and this one time my car rolled right out of it in. With a Christmas tree strapped to the top and my children screaming from the garage. But that might have been more how my life works and not anything to do with the steep driveway. Still—I suggest lots of salt.
And call my realtor if you want the garage code.