Selling the house

Our house was sold yesterday.  I’d say, “We sold our house yesterday”, but the truth is, my mom handled all of it — preparing it for sale, dealing with the details of selling it and getting it finally done.  She’s the best mom (and realtor) ever.  She saw us through 4 contract negotiations, and just when we were about to give up and rent it, we finally found a serious buyer . . . and one who was in a hurry, which was an extra bonus.

It’s strange.  For the first time in 17 years, nothing is tying me to Virginia.  My family is in Maryland, our “official” US address right now is in Florida, with Dan’s parents.  I am, truly, no longer a resident of Virginia.  It makes me a little sad, because Virginia is home to some of my most favorite places on Earth, and has been my home for a long time.

It’s further strange, because I’m no longer a property owner.  I don’t own a home or a car.  The bulk of my “stuff” (in both a physical and financial sense) has been removed from my life.  I’m back to being part of the proletariat, after years amongst the bourgeoisie.

It’s strange, too, because what has been our home for so long now belongs to someone else.  We bought this condo nearly 10 years ago.  It was the first home either Dan or I owned, and the first home we set up together (the apartment we lived in before that was the apartment Dan chose and set up after finishing with college in 1997 — I joined him there, but it wasn’t ever really “our” place).  It’s the home where we built our family.  It’s where we brought our babies home from the hospital, where Benjamin took is first steps and had his first birthday party.  Liam won’t even remember this house, but Benjamin might, a little.

The fact that it itsn’t ours anymore is a little sad, but not as much as I expected.  It had really stopped serving our purposes.  Although it was huge, the space wasn’t set up particularly well for a family of 4.  The location was fantastic — convenient and beautiful — but that made it so expensive that it put a tremendous burden on our single income (when we first bought it, both Dan & I were working as software engineers, without kids, and money wasn’t much of a concern).

The truth is, we are now more flexible — we can settle anywhere that serves our purposes.  We can focus on a house that serves our needs when we come home, instead of being stuck in a house that we chose back when we had two incomes and no kids (which is a little like wearing shoes that don’t quite fit anymore, just because they’re cute).  Adding the fact that our immediate financial picture just became much better, and there’s very little downside.  I will miss our old home, for sentimental reasons . . . and because Benjamin still tells me from time to time (as he did today) that, “I miss our old house”.  Knowing he won’t be going back there makes me a little sad, but I’m excited to be moving forward, and with less baggage to weigh us down.

We have a place!

114We signed the lease on our new apartment this morning.  Woo hoo!  We are so excited and relieved to have taken care of finding a place.  And even better:  we love it.  It’s big, it has great light and it’s in a wonderful location.  The boys will each have their own room, and we will again have a tub for bath time (we only have a shower in our current place, and B has been great about it, but he can’t wait to get in the new bathtub, and Liam has largely gone unwashed since we’ve arrived in the second temporary apartment).  We were very fortunate (partly due to Dan’s persistence) to have gotten our relocation money just in time to sign our lease and pay our (huge) deposit on the apartment.

136Of course, we don’t have any furniture, or nearly anything else, to move in to our apartment.  That is still incredibly frustrating:  so we now have a place, but if we move in, it’ll be like we’re camping (with a 2 year old and an infant).  We still have not received our air shipment (nor our sea shipment) — we’re hopeful that either or both might arrive next week.  (So for the time being, we’re going to try and stay in our temporary apartment.)  And having our new place means we have a whole new list of “to do” items to take care of:  getting the electricity and heat transferred into our names, purchasing appliances, having appliances delivered, arranging for internet and cable service, getting renters insurance, baby proofing, getting curtains (because no one is going to sleep past 5:30 in the morning if we don’t get them) and then unpacking and arranging all of our stuff once it arrives.

138But, ignoring the monumental list of tasks ahead, for the moment, we’re so happy to have our place.  We interrogated the owner about the property and the neighborhood.  The building has been there since 16-something, but the apartment itself is less than 20 years old (so no worries about lead paint or anything).  He filled us in on the locations of the good restaurants, grocery stores, open-air markets, butchers, bakeries and pizza places nearby.  Interestingly, his kids were the same ages as ours are now when they first moved in to this apartment, so the place has even been kid-tested.  We even met some of our new neighbors in the building on our way out (including a retired American couple who used to work at the IAEA) and they were all very excited to meet us.

After signing our lease, we took the kids to the nearest playground (location also supplied by our new landlord) and had lunch in a cafe around the corner.  It is so comforting to feel like we’re starting to find our place here.