A moving experience | OPINION

Everyone’s known pivotal awakenings that cause things to change forever. One of mine was when I awoke to the utter stupidity of planning my life around the few days when grass is dry enough to cut. Those are also the days when one craves to be doing something else, right? So I asked myself, do I really want to spend the best days of the year yoked to a lawnmower?

That, plus being empty-nesters, set us to wondering why we were clinging to the old place. A part of it was nostalgia. It was our starter-house, designed by me, largely finished by Evie and me, landscaped, decorated and furnished by us. Our finger-prints were on every light fixture, faucet-washer and baseboard.  After forty-nine years I could walk the place blindfolded.

Should we leave it? That question had been working on us for the past eight or ten years. After all, the old place’s systems were aging — just like mine. We’re away traveling enough that it would be nicer to have a place we could lock up and leave without lingering fears about security. And it would be double-nice not to have a half acre of lawn and garden to keep up.

So, just as we once did a few years ago, we tested the market. We engaged an agent, composed a description, set a price and sat back to let our agent field any responses. Considering there were more than a hundred homes for sale in our price range in Marysville, many of them new, we didn’t expect much. Besides, we’d be away for some days on a long-ago booked vacation to New Mexico which didn’t worry us much because nothing in real estate moves fast around here.

Our changing climate sparked thoughts of relocating in the sunny south but one day in a row of blessed sunshine put that to rest. Stronger pulls of family and enduring friendships keep us on such a short leash that a new condo development located at Lake Stevens’ north boundary seemed a better choice. At 4.2 miles from the old place, it would take only an extra five minutes to frequent old haunts.

So on April 29th we listed our home at a mid-range asking price and it sold the next day with the proviso that we be out in twenty nine days. Wow! Considering that we had no other home to go to, we could have said, “Sorry, we can’t act that fast,” or we could give hearty thanks for the offer and see if one of those condos was still available.

So, guided by super-agent Dan Hall, we took the offer and committed to buying the condo of our dreams. Dan and I arm-wrestled bankers and escrow people into promising closure on sale of the old and purchase of the new by Memorial Day. The weeks ahead would be a frenzy of packing and discarding. A one-day yard sale turned into something more like a potlatch.

In a way it was somewhat like falling into Puget Sound. Having lived here for most of my life I’ve learned that the Sound isn’t nearly as cold when I fall into it as when I creep into its frigid shallows. It has something to do with shock. So it was with being blindsided by a lightning-fast sale. No time for fretting. We simply had a ton of things to get done, and with Dan policing the time-line, we did it, inking the last document on the twenty-ninth and final day.

The family converged on the move and ordered us to stand back. They moved, scrubbed the old place, installed furniture and appliances, and even unpacked boxes to store household things away in drawers and closets. And that was the root of an ongoing problem. We know everything is here—somewhere. We hate to buy new things when we know that the cornstarch, playing cards, my summer shorts, drill bits, and my Phillips screwdrivers will eventually surface. Some days are filled with fruitless searches for things that will choose to reveal themselves only in time. Oh, well.

As is our custom when one of the Graef clan’s households faces a massive project, the troops turned what could have been a nightmare of stress and struggle into a party. After nine hours of sweaty effort I declared a halt, ordered take-out for ten and popped a few corks. They’d earned a party.

Friends sympathizing with the agony of leaving a home after so long had it all wrong. The condo is a better fit for us now, the only down-side being its glistening newness and perfection. The contrast with easy living in our well-worn old place has so infected my mate that she’s morphed into a compulsive neat-freak, imposing new rules at each dropped sock or magazines left askew.

Life is chaptered by moves of one kind or another. First pages of this new chapter are already filled with a comforting sense of fitting-in and a wealth of congenial new neighbors. We’re gonna like it here.

Comments may be addressed to robertgraef@comcast.net.


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