If I’ve been suspiciously silent over the past few weeks it is because I was caught up in end-of-summer business frenzy combined with selling my old home and moving to my new home. I held onto my home of 12 years after having decided when I initially moved in, to move in 3-5 years. And before the blink of an eye, I had stored a decade plus of memories inside those lovely walls.
It was very hard to make the choice to move (I had my house on and off the market for about 2 years) but I saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To sell my house (yes…at a big markdown because of the housing market collapse) and convert the remaining equity to a home that would satisfy my needs for another decade.
As a self-employed person, it was almost impossible to get a mortgage (just as it is impossible as a small business owner to grow a business other than self-financed and organically in this bank-driven market). I can personally say that the banks have the money and don’t want to lend money, even to those that can prove they can repay their debt. But I found the one bank and loan officer that were willing (and excited) to partner with me.
The conversion from one home to another will only increase my monthly outlay by a small bit, and one that I can shoulder, even if the economy recedes a bit. So that was the financial challenge.
The process of moving, both financially and emotionally, so greatly parallel the political arena that I am compelled to make the comparison. In order to get the credit, my past laurels didn’t count. I had to show I could repay debt in a way that the banks would accept. That was tough. Virtually impossible and required leveraging every possible opportunity. My family came through where I needed them to, and I’m financially beholden to them now, in addition to the banks. I doubt that blood will pursue me for favors as a lobbyist would, but, say I were running …. I don’t know…let’s say…a country…those that had given me money for my house might want to use a bedroom, or a bathroom, or part of the garage from time to time, if they needed it. And I’d have to agree.
The emotional challenge was something else and much worse. Like a political party, my memories and emotions were deeply entrenched in the home I had lived in. My daughter’s childhood flavored the wood walls. My dogs scratched their ways across the oak floors. My mother and I enjoyed many an afternoon breathing in the scents of rose and lavender and jasmine from our beautiful garden. We had a multitude of family gatherings and celebrations around our dining room table. We shared zucchini and freshly baked muffins with our neighbors, watched their cats and dogs when they needed help with a feeding or a potty break. My daughter learned to ride a bike on our street. We ate peaches and apples from our trees. Knew the best candy at the best houses on Halloween. Built a community. Shaped my life and my business around my home.
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Packing up was painful. What to toss, what to keep, what to donate. What furniture was a must keep and what was a do not move? In the end we tossed about 50 full garbage bags of unusable items (found in every nook and cranny you can imagine), donated about 20 full bags and boxes of items to Vietnam Vets, gave away a piano, washer, dryer and fridge. I deliberated over so many items and cried many times due to my reluctance to give up my past.
When we walked away from our home for the last time, I thought my heart might break. My daughter hated me for ripping her away from her home and my mother was definitely a bit wobbly on her feet after, literally, a month of packing and a couple of years of wavering upheaval.
Fast forward, exactly a month later. I didn’t think about my old home with any sort of regret from the moment I set foot in my new home. Nor has my mother. Not one second. That surprised me more than anything else. My daughter hated me for a couple of weeks, but is starting to love me (and her new room) again.
Big lesson learned? Much of the furniture I had such angst over keeping (and which is now here) doesn’t match this house in character or style, and I should have donated or sold it without batting an eye. We took our old memories and let them drift into this new home. What is really clear is that those old memories really are in the past. The new home is for new rules, new memories, new celebrations, new budgets, new neighbors, new resources, different and new.
When I ponder the standoff between the two political houses (well, really 3 now with the fractured Republican/Tea party) I see them sitting in their houses, glaring at each other across the aisle (like neighbors fighting over building a shared new fence), holding onto past glories, past doctrine and…basically…the past.
Obama gained traction because he really thought he could effect change, and in our imaginations, we thought he might be able to. The Tea Party (I don’t agree with their position, but recognize their popularity) gained traction because their supporters really thought they could effect change. No one expected this level of stalemate, posturing and obstructionism. Occupy Wall Street is continuing to gain traction, because the people have had it. The political dysfunction needs to end. To change a house, all parties really, really need to move from the old house. Toss out old, carefully choose who they accept favor from (not just go for the money) and create a different house. New, different, no old furniture. A new kitchen and see how to make an omelette in a differently configured workspace. Shore up the infrastructure, fix the electric panel so the house doesn’t fry, forget the fence feud and make friends with the new neighbors, cut down the big tree if the roots are threatening to pull up the entrance to your driveway (cuz you HAVE to be able to go in and out), fix the sprinklers if the grass is dying of thirst, and change the pool water if it hasn’t been emptied in 25 years, cancel DirecTV, Netflix, and landlines, if you need the extra $ to balance the books, buy local and organic to support your new ‘hood and build this new experience from a new perspective.
Hang an old picture in a new spot. Buy a new picture.