Moving on

Young woman unpacking box in the living-room
Young woman unpacking box in the living-room

After months of angst (mine) and wailing and gnashing of teeth (the kids'), I made the decision to sell our house and move to a neighboring town. I signed a contract with a high-powered realtor; seconds later, or so it seemed, all hell broke loose.

A horde of painters, refinishers and workers I didn't even recognize descended like 17-year cicadas to get the place in shape for the spring market. First, the photos and paintings came off the walls; then, the wood floors were stained a dark brown to hide three children's worth of roller blade gouges, along with the toenails of two beloved dogs. Pumice paint rolled over my Chili Pepper kitchen, while Sea Foam obscured my son's Utah Sky. In the driveway, a dumpster filled with scarred night tables, broken appliances and -- after much debate with my college bound daughter -- a Hello Kitty TV set.

I wrote checks so fast my carpal tunnel acted up and I had to dig out my old wrist brace, which proved difficult, since all my belongings were suddenly in boxes in the garage. Evenings and weekends went by in a blur of sorting and throwing out. We held our Passover Seder in a sea of dust and drop cloths.

Next week, the house will be "staged" for some imaginary family who will (presumably) be entranced by our Restoration Hardware lifestyle. There will be flowers, tasteful artwork and matching linens in every room. The goal is to create a clean slate, inviting but neutral, on which a new family can write its story. But where does that leave us?

For now, we are in limbo. I won't be buying right away, and it's too soon to look at rentals. Do I want an apartment or another house? How much can I afford to spend now that college bills are rolling in?

And then there's my relationship. I am in love with a wonderful man with whom I can easily see a future. But is it too soon to move in together? How will those dynamics affect my family and his?

Some days, the stress rolls over me like ocean waves. But on others, I am content to drift. I no longer believe that my happiness is defined by where I live or how much I own. And I've learned that letting go of concern for outcomes leaves room for greater joy to enter my life.