It’s totally freaky.
Cars are going by more slowly and I swear they can see me swimming in my fishbowl.
Yesterday, a ‘for sale’ sign went up in our yard. My first.
I know that people sell their houses every day, but I also know that people are stressed about selling their houses every day. And now I am in that boat.
We’ve sold houses before. Exactly two.
The first was our condo in New Hampshire. We were so excited, so young when we bought it… in 1988. Just before the housing bubble in this area burst with the force of an economic hydrogen bomb.
By the time we sold it, we were already happily nestled in our first house and had been renting out the condo for five years or so. We were reluctant landlords to say the least, but we were underwater on the condo – couldn’t sell it for what we owed on it – so renting was our only choice. When it finally made sense to sell, we sold it to our renter. No sign necessary. And we got a check for… wait for it… $128.
We took our friends to dinner to celebrate our not being landlords anymore.
Our second house sold in a day, a bit of a surprise, and before a sign could even go up. This was a little funny because one close friend was convinced we had it priced all wrong and was laughing at us – literally laughing at us, to our faces – for weeks before it went on the market. When that house sold, we forced him to make us dinner and we all laughed and celebrated.
So, for the first time in my life, I am living what so many have lived through before – a ‘for sale’ sign in my front yard. My home sort of ‘out there’.
At thirteen, she is fully exposed as she navigates the middle school hallways and lunch rooms.
The other day, someone worried about her ‘bigness’.
That’s fat shaming.
I don’t even know how to prepare her for mean girls.
The thing is, this is indeed just a house. But it is a house I created. I worked with amazing people to bring her to life, but she is one of my creative things. And putting her ‘out there’ for the consideration of others is, as it often is with our creative work, hard.
From the architectural era she’s based on, to choosing just the right black – called ‘oil rubbed bronze’ – for an artisan created hand-blown glass lamp that sits above the kitchen table.
From shakes and shingles, doors and windows, to stones for stacking and wood for laying down as floors.
Why this room is this size, how the light will fall into that one, where will the laundry room go so it’s easy for Granny to get to, and how much space will be enough for Grampa in his garage?
The answer turned out to be that there was never enough space in Grampa’s garage, which is why he spent so much time rummaging around in OURS.
A ladder on wheels leading little boys to a ‘secret’ loft lit by a full moon…
A floor with sea glass chosen by a certain twelve-year-old girl…
The perfect spot for a Christmas tree.
So many considerations and choices to create the places and spaces we would gather in, be in…
Laugh in and cry in and celebrate in and grow in.
A place where we did all those things and so manymuchmore.
And now she’s out there, this creation… not just any girl, looking for a kindred spirit.
She’s my girl.
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, talks about the fact that – when she puts her writing ‘out there’ – it rightly belongs to the world, and no longer belongs to her.
She says she feels that the humans of the world then have the right to misinterpret, love, hate, condemn, and celebrate her words as they will. None of her business. Out of her control.
I get that. I feel that way with my own writing. Sure, I wince periodically when I’ve tried to make a specific point and get a comment indicating that a reader didn’t pick up what I had thrown down. I think, “Well damn. I didn’t write that very well!” and then I’m on to the next thing. A forcefully expressed differing opinion and/or the occasional insult don’t really leave big marks. I truly believe I have no control once I hit ‘publish’.
But the house.
This is a different creation.
Once drawings and plans, then wood and stone and steel and copper and other construction stuff…
Somewhere along the line the inanimate object of a house Frankensteined herself into a living being.
Our family gave her a soul.
All I can do now is embrace the meaning she has for me, and help to guide her toward her next soulmate… or soulmates.
So I’m telling her to hang back. Don’t be too eager. Just be herself, because I know from experience that she is wonderful. And somewhere out there, there is someone who is going to see and sense and feel that when they step through her door.
I’ve also told her to be careful, to not open her door to just any Tom, Dick, or Harry who wanders by. A girl could get a reputation, after all.
That being said…
Slut shame my house, and you’ll have to deal with me.
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