Knowing our MLS listing would go up today, I left the paint brush alone and set my mind on cleaning, planning to vacuum, dust, and mop, room by room. But before getting through all that I became obsessed with the rigorous enterprise of scrubbing creosote off the inside of the glass fireplace doors. I gave myself a good cardiac workout returning them to transparency and pondered times spent in front of that fireplace—hanging out with friends on Christmas day, reading books on the little couch we pulled to face the blaze; Power Day Off evenings lit by firelight and, sometimes, the oil lamp from my great grandparents' farm. I don't know whether it was the exertions of steel wool or memory that sent me upstairs after that for an hour's deep sleep.
When we first moved to our house, we sent out a postcard with a picture of us sitting on the front porch, and this quotation from The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard:
And after we are in the new house, when memories of other places we have lived in come back to us, we travel to the land of Motionless Childhood, motionless the way all Immemorial things are. We live fixations, fixations of happiness.
My husband and I started talking seriously about selling about a year ago, and the pendulum swing from yes to no has slowed, but not yet ceased. I can only imagine the pain of people who've gone through foreclosure, the rugs literally pulled out from under them, how it must feel to flee and leave one's possessions, or have strangers come and take things away.
I would like to say I've gotten used to the idea of leaving, but I haven't.
Maybe I need a clearer idea of where we're headed. For a place to replace this one in our hearts it must be just as magical. I hope the next owner will feel as strongly as we did about making the house greener and more energy efficient while preserving its history.
Here's a whimsical sale blurb I wrote for Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn (hoping another Brooklynite might move up here and take over!):
Amenities: Cozy sun room with hearth, overlooking peach tree. Rainbow fairy staircase realm, favorable flow from room to room, wall-gliding sunlight panels, forehead-cooling marble mantelpieces. AAA hide-and-seek rating. Squirrel antic observation corner. Breakfast with birds. Airy mansard attic fit for future majestic master bedroom or eccentric artist's playground or use your imagination. Seat 16 for Thanksgiving. Backyard foraging for raspberries in summer.
I wish all real estate listings could be written that way, knowing that what is really bought and sold, paradoxically, are intangibles that can never be bought and sold—memory, childhood, yesterday.