We’re selling the house in California. This has been difficult to write about because there are more people involved in this issue then just myself or myself and Beloved. Beloved’s two sons grew up in this house. They were a family with Beloved and their mother and then, well, change happened. Then they were a family with their father in one place and their mother in another place. Then, I moved in and we became a family, kind of. In the way that step mothers become family when step children are nearly grown. I’ve always thought of myself as more “interested Adult” or “Aunt-like” rather than parent, step or otherwise. But you can see how writing about selling the house is complicated. There’s more then just my story in this and I can’t write about what selling this house means to the other former residents.
But when I don’t write about something big in my life, I stop writing about everything else. So, here are some thoughts about selling a house, about selling a house we thought we might return to, about selling a house from the other side of the world.
We’ve been getting ready to sell the house since last fall when we learned that Beloved’s home company, Fireman’s Fund, was going to be closed down and parted out. This new reality means the following hard truth: When we are done in Munich, we will not be returning to Northern California. There are no employers for Beloved north of the Golden Gate Bridge, at least along Highway 101. There’s maybe a handful of possible employers along the I5 corridor in Oregon and Washington but for the most part, Insurance folks are concentrated in cities with bad weather on the East Coast. Like Chicago.
Actually, Chicago is starting to grow on me. Starting. Haven’t been there in August yet. I can live almost anywhere for a little while. I think.
We have a contract in hand to stay in Munich at least through 2017, but we don’t know what happens after that. We might stay longer, we might try to go someplace else in Europe, we might be coming home to something somewhere. Its odd not knowing but in fact, who really knows the future anyway? Chosen or unchosen, change happens.
When we first arrived, we rented an apartment that still had the name of the owner on the front door. I hand wrote our name on a sticky note and pasted it over the more permanent nameplate. At first I intended this to be temporary while we got all our stuff sorted out. But then I started liking it as a permanently temporary signal that our presence in this apartment was temporary. Kind of an extended vacation rental or something and I shouldn’t get too attached.
But then we started selling the house. Signing papers and getting a real estate agent and everything. One morning, out of the blue, I became obsessed with buying a dirndl. That very day. I think that I wanted to belong someplace and right here was good enough for now. I was ready to appropriate whatever traditional dress or custom was necessary so I could belong, right this very moment. (Well, anything short of actually mastering German but that’s another day’s struggle.) I was surprised at the fierceness of my longing for Tracht (German for traditional dress).
Which of course was actually all about my longing for security or rootedness.
I have not yet bought my very own dirndl. For one reason, I discovered there’s not a lot of stock in the stores when we’re two weeks away from the new season. For another reason, dirndl shopping needs friends to assist picking out the right one. No woman should be left to shop for one alone. But mostly I haven’t yet bought one because I figured out that I can’t really replace a house with a dress.
I’m not really sure about the difference between buying a place to live and renting a place to live other then several inches of paperwork and the opportunity to get some of your money back when you move out. I’ve moved a fair amount so far in my life. As an adult, post college, I count about 11 moves so far with at least one more in my future but probably more like two or three. Or five. Who knows, right? Maybe the secret is figuring out how to live both settled and ready to go. Which sounds like one of those zen life master aspirational goals we use to both imagine our perfect selves and to then beat ourselves up over when we fail. Of course we want to remain settled and of course we want the freedom to move about. We want the fresh starts and we want the connectivity.
I miss California. I miss the weather and I miss my friends. I miss the folks at Windsor Presbyterian Church and I miss the members of Redwoods Presbytery. I miss my friends in Oregon too. I miss my family. Some of my friends have friends they have known since kindergarten and they still go on girl-weekends together. I don’t have that in my life. I have big cuts, big jumps where everything in my life ends and a whole new one begins. I don’t like that about my life. These breaks are a source of grief actually. However, I am aware that neither a dress nor a house solves that problem.
I hope I can remain connected to the people I fall a little in love with. I hope this blog and the Facebook posts sustain our connections even as we fall more and more out of contact. I hope we can keep telling each other our stories, little ones as well as big ones. This is how we tend our friendship. This is how we maintain our connections even as we travel through our lives together and apart.
Yet, if our connection must end then let me say thank you. Thank you for investing your time in me, thank you for sharing your life with me. Good luck to you, I hope you travel well even if you stay home.
In the meantime, let me tell you, its weird selling a house. Especially long distance. And the new Dirdlin (plural! I looked it up) are hitting the stores most any day now….