“Ultimately, the only way to get through something is to get through it- not over, under, or around it, but all the way through it.”
-Alla Bozarth-Campbell, Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello
She kept her photo journal of the house construction in a book that is full of surprisingly appropriate quotes like that.
Lots of getting through to be done this month. On February first I took the new car up to the new place and got my keys. There still was more work to be done on the house in order to hit the closing date, but if all went well by the end of the shortest month the house was supposed to be home to another family, and I would be settled into a more appropriately sized place which won’t be full of memories waiting to ambush me.
Well, that was the theory, anyway.
After we picked up the keys and checked out the place my daughter and I went across the border into to New Hampshire for some dinner and furniture shopping. She found a terrific Indian place on Yelp that was nothing to look at from the road but had great food. Feeling sufficiently fortified, and perhaps a bit overstuffed, we headed out to look at televisions and furniture.
There was a Best Buy right next to a furniture store, so we parked there and went in to get a rough idea of the television shopping landscape. It’s funny, when we built the house I was working on a contract to develop control systems for television transmitters. It was just as High Def broadcast was coming on-line, and I joked that this was going to be the house that HDTV built. We never got the follow-on contract for the HDTV transmitters, and instead, I will leave the place having never even put a High-Def set in it.
Once we were done getting an idea of the options for TVs we headed out to go across the lot to look at the furniture, but as we started towards the door I noticed the appliance section, and realized what I really should have been looking for was a washer and a dryer.
You never know what is going to get you, but I certainly never thought considering what size laundry equipment I was going to need would be a semi-traumatic experience. Something about trying to find a washer and dryer sized for one instead of a whole family just hit me as totally wrong. The following furniture shopping was only mildly less traumatic. I ended up not buying anything that day.
Like so many things I have experienced over the last year, the second try was much less traumatic, and a month later the condo has a new mattress set in it, a washer and dryer, a really nice TV, and just this Friday a new couch and chair arrived for the living room.
I have moved virtually nothing over from Amherst yet, as I was waiting for the work on the house to be completed. And the more I look at the condo and the furniture back at the house, the less of it I want to bring. We built a neo-Victorian, and furnished it accordingly. Right now I’m somewhat glad our budget restrained us from some of the furniture we contemplated on the way, as it would be just that much more stuff to get rid of now.
The place you live can really strongly affect the way you look at things. We spent far too long in our little starter ranch, and the big house was partly about reasserting who we were and how we saw our place in the world. We built a house big enough to be the anchor for the extended family we valued so much. The scale was set up so that we could easily handle all the holidays, and so that the kids could bring their friends over without anybody feeling cramped. When I first started looking for places to move to I kept trying to maintain a scaled down version of that, thinking about space for holidays and room for the grandchildren to play.
The first few places I locked onto were very much in that vein. I could have just dropped a lot of the furniture from here into them with a minimum of hassle. But then what? My children are grown, my wife is gone. That isn’t my life anymore. I would be living alone in an empty house that was sized for a family. For that, I could just stay here.
The weather delays in the construction actually helped me out here. The more I looked at what I was doing, the more I realized I needed to force a change. The new place is intentionally too small. The architecture is modern, the old furniture won’t fit. This is a place that’s perfectly sized for one, viable for two, but way too small for a family. I can have a few people over, but nothing like the bashes we hosted here. That’s fine, this year is not for that. This is the year I stop looking back and start looking forward.
Meanwhile back at the house, the siding work is finally finished, and all that remains is a little drywall work to close up the areas in the office and garage where they did the structural repairs. There is yet another dumpster in the driveway, full of construction debris this time, but that will be gone tomorrow. By the end of the week, the house should finally be contractor-free. It has taken five months to get this place fixed, largely thanks to the wonderful winter weather we have been experiencing. It only took seven months to build it in the first place. Come to think of it, that may help explain why it needed so much fixing only seventeen years later.
I have rescheduled the closing for March 28th, a full month after the original date. That leaves me with less than three weeks to completely empty this place out. This would be somewhat challenging if I could take some time off from work, but the next two weeks are wall to wall critical meetings. I have no idea how I am going to pull this off.
The only way to get through is to get through. I have gotten through much harder things already.
One month from now I should finally actually be rid of the house, and at least some of the chaos of this transition year will be behind me. I don’t care if I have to get another two dumpsters and just trash everything that’s left in the house. I’m done here.
I have spent well over a year writing an epilogue to the life that was. The hassles with the house have kept me in limbo for the past four months. It’s really time to start writing the prologue for what is yet to be.