Moving on to stay put

Six months ago, we started the process of buying a new house.  We made the mistake of falling in love with a lumbering timber frame with a view of “the big lake”.  It took eight weeks to negotiate a price, and we thought we had lost it three separate times.

Four months ago, we listed ours.  We thought our updated five-bedroom, three-bath ranch would sell quickly.  The house has it all – newer construction, a stone fireplace, covered front porch, screen room, walk-in closets, attached garage, wood floors, updated kitchen, and amazing views like none other in Mason County.

We cleaned every closet, filled every nail hole, and polished the stainless appliances.  We even buried St. Joseph in the front yard by our shiny For Sale sign.  Then we took a deep breath, sat back, and waited for the phone to ring.

And it did – we had multiple showings those first few weeks.  Everyone loved the house, with the exception of a few minor concerns.  We were sure we would have an offer soon.

After each showing, we waited again for the phone to ring.

Over four months later, we are still waiting.  While we waited, two sets of new neighbors have moved in.  My husband changed jobs.  We got a new sofa, new bedding, and new rugs in the living room.  We have taken two trips, invited houseguests, and hosted multiple gatherings.

We have also missed graduation parties and weddings, given up countless hours of weekend relaxation, sacrificed sleep, and rescheduled work commitments.  I have turned into a stressed out raving lunatic who nags constantly about the towel on the floor, the pee on the toilet seat, and the dog hair in the kitchen.  I have become the only one in the house who can put away dishes, fold towels, or make beds to keep the house “show ready”.

I have gotten up at dawn only to be running out of the house, dripping with sweat, laundry basket in one hand, trash bag in the other, three hours of snapping at anyone who crossed the threshold of a “clean” room, later.

And still, we wait.  Cognitively, I know a visible toothbrush or misaligned throw pillow is not what makes or breaks a house sale.  Emotionally, I am not so sure.

Our house is more than studs and drywall.  It is the private place where we put on our public faces at the beginning of the day, and where we drop them at the end.  Our messy pantry hides our Hershey bars and potato chips; the linen closets our mismatched “extra” sheets.  Our bookshelves tell the story of our journey – from trash to treasure and back again.  Behind every door, the rooms scream, “We live here!”

And yet, every blog and DIY article on selling a house instructs you to remove all traces of life in your home.  No family photos, no personalized décor, no half used lotions or anti-aging serums on the counter.  Neutral paint, stowed appliances, fresh flowers on the counter.  No scents, unless it is fresh baked cookies, and nothing “extra” in the closets.  Absolutely, positively, NO dog hair on the rug.

It is exhausting to both live – then erase the signs of living– in a home you are pretending is only a house.

As disappointed as I am to give up the house that we fell in love with last winter, we have decided it is time to let go.  It just isn’t worth the stress anymore.  Tomorrow, I am looking forward to getting up late and leaving my bed unmade.  I will appreciate every fingerprint on the glass front door.  I might even leave the jelly smear on the counter until – gasp- it dries.

I can’t wait for bedtime when my home looks like a day well lived.

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