My home was running like a well oiled machine. If I were to get up in the middle of the night I could find most anything I need in complete darkness. Whether it is children’s cough syrup, or the exact location of my softest T-shirt, everything is in its place. I know what time the daylight will creep into my children’s rooms waking them from their sweet slumber. I know around 5:30 AM our dogs will come to my side of the bed, sniffing, whining and eventually barking to wake me out of my sleep. When I go downstairs I can let them out to our generously sized fenced in backyard, where they will do their usual routine of walking the perimeter that they know so well. Our children have a bus stop that’s at the end of our driveway in a quiet little cul-de-sac. When they come home from school they are free to run across the street and safely play, running in and out of neighbors yards and into their homes. I know that I can borrow milk, wine and firewood from our generous neighbors, during sunshine or a snowstorm. I have a fun, responsible babysitter who can walk home after we return from a night out. It’s quiet and peaceful here. After 10 years of home projects and organizing our life is up and running smoothly, and we are about to throw a hand grenade and blow it all up.
You see we are moving, not across the country, not to a different state, we are moving just up the road. We are throwing our lives into a complete upheaval to move 3 miles away from our current home. Why? True love. Not with another person, but with a house. Specifically a stone home, built in 1938, full charm that stole our hearts. Only instead of it being a one night stand or a brief affair we decided to leave our current home, with no advance notice, just a for sale sign hastily thrown up on the front lawn. Essentially, we may be having a midlife crisis. The good news is we’re having it as a family, as a unit, going about this insanity together. The bad news is I may be a sadistic weirdo who likes throwing monkey wrenches.
It was only two short months ago when we were swept off our feet. Truth be told we would look off and on, very casually, for about the past 10 years, dragging our friend and ultra patient realtor out and about to indulge in what seemed like just a fantasy. Something always drew us to the spirit and character of older homes. We also found out, when we took a closer look, we were completely freaked out by basements with dirt floors, repairs that were beyond any amount of sanity, and strange old rooms that our children were too scared to go into. But this house? It was different. As soon as I walked in the front door I turned around and said to my husband “shit.” I said shit because I knew that this was it, this is going to be the one. And if we were going to do this whole “old house” thing, this was the house. We had to make the leap.
As I write this I am drinking pink champagne out of a beer pint glass, an unusual combination for sure. The champagne glasses have been packed away with the china, we are in full-blown “clear out the fridge” mode, and I just cannot pour out champagne. Truth is the drink is helping to calm my nerves, because Lord knows I am terrified. I know real terror is things like a pit full of snakes, a deadly disease and of course, clowns, especially at night. This a “fear of change” type of terror. What if we are making a mistake? What if the charm wears off and turns us weary? Will all this coziness suffocate us as a family? This house is only a few hundred square feet smaller but the storage options are way different and room sizes way smaller. What if we, and all of our stuff, just don’t fit?
I may sound overly dramatic, but like any normal mother I’m always convinced I am on the cusp of ruining my children’s lives. I’m yanking them out of their perfectly happy little lives at their perfectly happy little schools, just because mommy and daddy decided they wanted a different house. They will have to switch schools, make new friends and wake up in a home that will feel strange to them for a while. Our kids don’t understand why we have to move, and its not something that I can easily explain to them. Honestly, I don’t know that I can put it into words. I know there are people who move every day into places all over the world, but usually it’s for a job or family reasons. It feels weird to be moving, just to move. I just know that something hit us hard when we walked in the house, and I felt like we had to make this decision. It just goes to show you love will make you do crazy things.
On (financial) paper these two homes are a fairly even swap, although no one can ever say that moving is inexpensive. If you want to give yourself an ulcer go get a quote from your local moving company. And packing up your home is far from fun, in fact it could quite be the seventh circle of hell. We are lucky the process went quickly, but listing, selling and moving in 3 months feels like you have the flu and are forced to ride Disney’s Space Mountain while downing redbull. But I would have been in the loony bin if it took much longer. No one tells you that you will end up living out of your car due to showings, I’m talking laundry basket and all. Your spouse will hate you because you won’t let them use the bathroom after you have cleaned it. You will be broke from eating out all of the time in an effort to not dirty the kitchen. Oh and don’t forget your lovely children and adorable pets, pawing and slobbering at windows (the dogs), hiding “Don’t buy this house!” notes “somewhere” before showings. You will jot down notes reminding yourself to buy stock in Febreeze, Windex ,and Pledge, because you are convinced you are keeping them in business. You will be convinced that you and your family are filthy, as you do a deep clean like never before and find things you wish you didn’t find. You work really hard to eliminate clutter and stage everything in your house to make it appeal to someone else. Even though it is still your home you suddenly feel homeless, and you look and smell like it.
If the stars align correctly, and a buyer wants your house, the next steps are not as simple as just signing some papers. It’s a whole series of back-and-forth and back-and-forth and back-and-forth type of conversations, regarding both money and time, that feel very tense.There is a brief moment of bliss, after you accept the offer, because that’s when you decide to send your vacuum on vacay, because you both need a break from each other. You eat popcorn on the couch in the family room, you let the laundry pile up and leave dishes in the sink. The dogs track in wet paws and mud and the kids toys lay everywhere. This will go on until you look around and realize you are now living in what looks like the aftermath of a frat house party. Then you start yelling at everyone that the house is filthy and uh-oh, you remember you need to pack all this crap up…
Family room Before –
So are we crazy, sadistic weirdos who like living in a maze of boxes? I feel like we have lost touch with family and friends, as our whole lives this past month have been consumed by “The Move.” Like some looming deadline, it feel like an apocalypse of sorts. The monkey wrench has for sure been thrown, as nothing has run smoothly for the past couple of weeks. Our poor dogs need Xanax as they cry with anxiety and follow me from room to room, convinced every time I take a box outside I’m never coming back to get them. I have brain fog that is bordering on dementia. I’ve had to unpack boxes at 2 am, looking for children’s Tylenol that I accidentally packed up. I’ve run to the storage facility we rented in search of my son’s (also accidentally) packed hockey stick. Yes, of course it was in the very back of all this stuff. For those of you that have to move frequently for work? Mad props and respect because I don’t know how you do it. I tried to pack it all up into neat and orderly (and labeled!) boxes but as we hit the home stretch I am basically just tossing crap into boxes based on what will fit where. That should be real fun when it’s time to unpack.
Are we running away from something? Maybe… but maybe we are running toward something, at least I hope. Racing toward simplicity, wrapped up in the form of a new challenge, a new adventure. It’s feels like I am reading one of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that I loved as a kid, and I am choosing to turn the page to the obviously less popular scenario. Our home we are selling has the traditional open floor layout, with high ceilings and generous rooms. Most people love the flow of an open floor plan but I never felt fully comfortable in it. When we cooked in the kitchen the scent would linger into our bedrooms… and stay there. If one TV was on in the house you could hear it in almost every other room. My brain is terrible at multitasking, and I think physically I also need things around me to be compartmentalized. I need noises to be more contained, and rooms with doors to help me feel comfortable and cozy. Please don’t take this to mean I am ungrateful for what we have. We worked so very hard for our home, and on all of the projects in our home, but somehow there was always something that was just missing.
I do know we need to shed some of our stuff, actually a lot of our stuff, because truth be told it is making me tired. There is too much of it. We are fortunate but foolish, having way too many things that we have never used and probably never will. Packing is not generally considered a fun activity but there is a part of me that is kind of enjoying it. Purging and sorting is a huge part of my job, I help others to let go of what is not needed in order to curate a closet filled only with items that make them feel good. I feel we have a chance to do this during this move and I’m really looking forward to shedding all the extra stuff.
I’m purposely writing this story without an end or conclusion, because I know it is going to be an open story line. There will be good times and bad times, but I feel confident that home is wherever we are together as a family. The home is in great condition and you can tell the current owners have given it so much love. We move at the end of this week and I am feeling both excited and anxious for our new start. My mom gave me (as she always does) great advice and warned me that I will probably not like it at first. She knows I like things organized and running smoothly so she asked that I be patient in taking my time to get settled. She reminded me to expect the crazy and the chaos and not to be surprised by it or fight it away. I am hoping to hit the reset button on a lot of things, one of the biggest one is being more present in the moment. Life is going by too fast and I really don’t want to miss any of it. Oh and if you have any words of wisdom regarding moving please share! Or other war stories so I feel less crazy! Thanks for reading! Suzie
*Insider Tip – Edit, edit, edit, organize.
I love helping my clients to get rid of the extra “stuff.” For some that means getting rid of clothes they don’t or won’t wear. I often ask my clients to evaluate each item in their wardrobe as if they were shopping in a store. Would they buy that same item today, right now, full price? If there is too much hesitation it usually gets tossed. For other clients it’s about getting all the other “stuff” out of their closets. If you have the room, I strongly suggest taking out anything that is not related directly to your wardrobe out of your closet. So often our shelves become cluttered with books, boxes of old photos and miscellaneous knick knacks that have no where else to do. I encourage my clients to get those items out in order to make better use of their space for organizing their clothes. Don’t worry about sorting through all of it, because that is what often prevents us from dealing with it. Just put those old sentimental items in one general bin and store it away into the basement, the attic, or anywhere but the valuable real estate of your closet. When we can simplify and spread out it makes getting dressed in the morning so much more enjoyable. Take the time to give yourself the gift of a clean and organized closet, I promise you it will pay you back every single day.