Saturday, June 27, 2009
A recurring joke around our house, since we decided to move, is the sentence that begins with "You just...," as in, "Oh, that's not hard to fix, you just knock out the old plaster and re-do it," or "Why don't you just refinish all the floors downstairs? It will make the house sell faster," or "If you just get rid of half your stuff, this space will show better," or "You just seal all that up with some caulk."
I've had four months of "you just." I'm starting to relate to the people who have to flee after foreclosure, the ones who don't have the time, energy, or space to "just" take their plasma TV with them, or their books or tchotchkes or anything, so that it all winds up in a dumpster when the inevitable strangers come to clear the place out. Why didn't they just take some of their cherished possessions? They'd reached their just limit.
Goodness knows, it's great to have a shelter over your head, especially a beautiful, well-tended one like we hope to pass on to an equally loving next occupant, this museum of fine details from a time when craft, taste, and material each held their own and justified the others, this archive of happy family memories—ours and, you can feel it the moment you walk through the door—many others'.
But an old house, above all, is a giant neon sign flashing "You just." If I didn't have so many other "You just" lists, I wouldn't so much mind the length of this one. Still, there's something supremely satisfying, even amidst the smoking embers of burnout, about crossing items off the "you just" list. Tick, tick, tick.