On July 21, I moved out of the condo that was home for sixteen years, fourteen of them with the man who is now legally my former husband. Most of my things went to a storage space on Aurora. The rest of them, and I, moved into a MIL apartment by Green Lake that dear and generous friends offered to me “for as long as you need it.” The offer came a few days after I had made the decision that — even though I had no idea where I’d be moving to – it was time to put the condo on the market. An affirmation that I had made the right decision and an act of love and generosity that blew me away.
I think it was in May that we told the realtor who had bought and sold for us in the past (when there was an “us,” other than just co-owners of property) that we were planning to sell, the market was red hot. “In this market,” he said, “we don’t need to do any work on it. Just sell it As Is.”
But the red hot flame, at least in the real estate market, had cooled by the time I moved out and the condo was listed. Hardly anyone came to see it. Going back to the empty townhouse to get my mail and do my laundry (I love my washer-dryer), less than a week after it went onto the MLS, I was struck by how off the place felt to me. Neglected. Abandoned. Not cared for. The silent testimony to a marriage not cared for for too long.
A coat of paint wouldn’t have saved the marriage. I’m not sure that anything cosmetic could have done that, nor am I convinced that even deeper work would have done the trick. I suspect we were unfixable practically from day one. But I knew that a coat of paint was exactly what these battered and nicked walls needed.
We pulled it off the market. A friend’s husband does house painting and was willing to let me assist in small tasks like taking the plates off light switches and outlets. (Who knew there were so many?) Then he assigned me to dabbing a little paint on the spots where it was completely wrecked to prep it. By the third day, I was painting the pantry, which hadn’t been part of our original plan. But it clearly needed it, as did the closets that I moved on to.
It felt redemptive to be part of the process of freshening up what was still my home, even though I was no longer living in it. I know the history of almost every nick and scratch and dent. I know why there’s two-sided sticky tape on a variety of surfaces (it had to do with the cat). I recognize every nail hole and know what picture hung in what spot. I don’t want to disappear the history that was lived there, but I do want to put the best face on the home we inhabited and send it off with as much positivity as possible. It deserves it.
I wrote those paragraphs about a month ago. Since then, we finished painting and a stager completed the transformation. Three days after the condo went back on the market, we got an offer. It’s due to close before the end of the month.
I am now on a plane flying back to Seattle to do the final packing of my things before driving to Minneapolis, also before the end of the month, where my (step)son and his family now live. The divorce did not separate us; they are still my family and I am moving to be close to them. I’ve known I wanted to leave Seattle for quite some time, that I want to start a new chapter of my life in a new place. I just didn’t know, until very recently, that it was going to be Minneapolis. It’s daunting to move to a new city, where I don’t know the territory, either literally or figuratively, but it’s also exciting. I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to be both grandma and single woman in a new city.
Flying to Minneapolis last Tuesday, a very tall man kindly lifted my suitcase into and out of the overhead bin. Today, no tall willing men in sight, I hefted my bag up and stowed it away on my own steam. It’s a metaphor and an affirmation. At least, I’m taking it as such.