Our realtors walked through our bedroom and pointed out that my jewelry (a.k.a. Pagan Bling) would need to go, as would our book shelf of Buffy DVD’s and the half-dozen, brown, wooden elephant figurines left over from our big, gay wedding. They were pleased with the size of the closet, though, if not a little concerned with the clutter.
People like to see space, they told us.
How metaphysical, I thought.
They surveyed our kitchen next, which is lined with glass-doored cabinets, and they said that we’d need to do something will all that food.
Keep only the food you’ll need to eat for a couple weeks at a time.
How survivalist, and barren.
They looked at the wooden counters tops, which were once doors in a previous incarnation, and they mused that wood would probably be ok; the counters didn’t have to be granite. Our appliances, on the other hand, they would never pass. Stainless steel, it seems, is a crucial element in the sale of houses these days. This cold, hard metal can make or break a deal, our realtors assured us.
It really makes a kitchen “pop”!
Popcorn makes a kitchen pop. I love popcorn. I make it often, and I eat it in bed out of an oversized bowl that my mom gave to me. But my air-popper would have to go, and so would the bowl, and so would my grandma’s “See/Hear/Speak No Evil” antique monkey mugs.
They moved on to my office, home to my altar, my books on Druidry and Paganism, and all of my magickal supplies. This room would need a complete overhaul, clearly. The tapestries would come down off the walls, and the candles, statuaries and divinatory tools would be put into piles, first, and then boxes.
This room would make a good office. Leave the desk, and maybe a lamp. Again – space is a good thing.
I couldn’t breath.
Checklists and Upgrades
After their inventory of our possessions was complete, they gave us a schedule, a list of names and numbers of general contractors, and then departed with a forced cheeriness that could not have been more disconnected from the achy feelings in my belly. This wasn’t a home-invasion, exactly, but I still felt a little violated.
There was little time for the trauma, though. We had our task: pack up the outward representations of our personalities, and do it quickly. Like, two weeks quick. The air would turn cold soon, and we didn’t want to miss the Fall market.
Since that initial visit, we’ve erased much of what was unique inside our house. We’ve created a spacious (empty) and simple (bland) environment to put on display for as many strangers as possible.
(I have some parenthetical resentment, I won’t lie.)
Making space for strangers is weird. It almost feels like hospitality, but not quite. Never before have I sought people’s approval in such a outward, physical way. My treasure troves of trinkets and journals, aura photos and drams of oil, each picked out for its beauty, its function, or the tingle it gave me when I first picked it up, began to appear different when I stared looking at them through the eyes of a potential buyer. Liabilities? Maybe. These things that are connected to my spiritual practice were transformed, passively, into potential barriers between us and our financial freedom.
They needed to be boxed. My hearth must be dismantled for the change I seek to occur.
A Change Of Seasons
There are still two weeks left before Mabon, but I’m feeling the transition to Fall begin within the walls of my home.
Autumn is the season where we are all forced to accept that the year’s growth is coming to an end. The green of the leaves, the fruit from the vine, all that we’ve planted and made from dirt and sweat and water, it all begins to cease; to draw back. It is not dead yet, and it is still plenty beautiful, but the beauty is different now. The color is harder to hold, for you know that in time reds will become browns, and browns will take over the sidewalks and become crunchy and brittle, and everything that is now will soon not be. There is a melancholy beauty to the whole process.
Autumn is a season where we all consider the coming cold, and we wonder how we will survive it. The season has turned metaphoric for me in a profound way, for I stand now with uncertainty about who will take ownership of this space, and where we will land once it’s all over and done with.
How will our plants fair the move? How will we manage the dogs in the midst of house showings? What sorts of sacrifices will be made, unplanned and sudden, and how will we fare them? As I take apart the evidence of my achievements, removing the postcards and bookmarks that show proof of my journey thus far, what am I left with?
I look outside my newly cleaned window (sparkling windows, our realtors told us, are essential when showing a house) I still see green. The tiny leaves which turn yellow and rain down on the grass and clog our gutters are still holding fast to their property. They aren’t selling just yet. They’re going to hold out until the moment is right; until the weather has turned and there is no sense in clinging to the life they’d grown accustomed to.
We’ve both got a little more time until we must become something new.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you been faced with the decision to sell or move out of your home, and did it give you cause to reflect on your life? If so, I’d love hear from you. Please share your experience in the comments. And, I’d be very grateful if you shared the post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or your social network of choice!
[…] Now, please direct your browsers to my first post on Patheos: An Early Autumn Chill […]
The first time we sold a house it felt like selling parts of ourselves, we had bought a broken stone shell of a house and added literally everything from the ground up — plumbing, heating, windows and plaster and roof, and very rich and wonderful gardens with flowers, vegetables, and three year asparagus. Seven years of sweat and love, sold to the highest bidder due to a job move. The next house, we expected to be in forever, but it was not to be — and the stunning two story treehouse built with my husband’s loving hands, along with the house, sold off the to highest bidder. We actually slept our last night at that house in the treehouse, with some tears. Third house, again, 8 years of love, but this time, I had held back from too much of myself being poured into the gardens. I was always heartbroken at “losing” the plants I had added, and by that third house, I wanted to wait and see how permanent all this would be. THEN, fourth house, we found this amazing place here in Denver, with prolific gardens that needed my love and care. I felt like I was gifted with the most amazing piece of land to tend, filled by past loving hands with roses and flowers and raspberries and more flowers than I can ever name. Certainly the previous owners who had left such amazing plants gave us a huge gift, and sort of a payback for the three gardens I had worked in, and left behind. So leaving a well loved space is sad, but also, empty space makes for new things to be able to come into our lives. Loss = room for blessing. Had I not said goodbye to those three other houses, I would not be in this, the magnificent house and gardens that exceed any garden I could dream up. Thanks to Spirit, for using our losses to help us move toward gains. It’s all impermanent, but I sure do appreciate being in this place now.
Thank you for this comment, Emily. You offer a message that is valuable to so many of us, especially to me and my family as we go through this transition.
“Loss = room for blessing.” — I love that.
The loss can be understood as an opening for something new, something better. Again, thank you for these words. They hit home…pun very much intended. 🙂
If your realtors are telling you not having granite counters is just OK and you need to upgrade to stainless steel appliances, then either you’re in a pretty ritzy neighborhood or they’ve been playing in one for too long. In case anyone hasn’t told them, there’s a recession going on…
As for hiding who you are to sell your house, you do what you have to do. I’ve done it three times. Didn’t like it, but it was necessary.
Glad to see a Druid on the Patheos roster. I’m OBOD, but I’ve borrowed from the ADF liturgy plenty of times. Welcome!
Thanks for the kind welcome, John. It’s great to be on Patheos. Yes, I am a member of ADF, and I’m working (slowly) through their Dedicant Path program. I’m also an OBOD member, and have a soft spot for the romanticism of the Revival.
We’re in an old neighborhood, filled with beautiful houses, many of worth much more than ours. So, there is a standard set on our streets that might be out of step with the rest of the country. You make a good point, though. In the midst of all of this it’s good to keep things in perspective, and do what needs to be done.
Thanks for joining the conversation. I look forward to reading through your blog!
Don’t forget that Autumn as a time of change, also means a time of opportunity! In a sense you are harvesting the value of the house and moving on to better things, and part of the work of harvesting is pulling up plants and turning them under.
It is an odd thing to imagine hiding away the trappings of your life to “sanitize” your home, but I’d try to think of it less like hiding, ans more that these strangers on Realtor tours don’t deserve to see the complexity of your life. The people who matter in your world take you as you are, the people who are looking for stainless steel appliances don’t matter. I hope your move goes well, and congrats on the new spot for your blog!
Thanks, Pink. Always love to see you here. We’re doing our best to remember the positive side of all this. And you’re right – there is opportunity for better things here. That’s why we’ve made this decision.
Thanks for the congrats! I’m pretty excited. 🙂