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It all happens in the middle of the dining room floor. Surrounded by Fisher Price, I entertain baby Zachary with a miniature car garage – “Ding! Ding! Ding!” goes the elevator – while I intermittently answer the phone.
“There are two offers now!” gushed my husband, Josh. “The real estate agent is working on a bidding war.”
To hang up. The silence.
I push a small car off the roof of the garage. “Annihilate!” I whisper as it crashes. Zachary laughs, his soft stomach and double chin bouncing in unison. Encouraged by his reaction, I throw a dump truck behind the car and watch him burst out laughing. I wish I could be so easily pleasant, but selling a house and moving across the country is stressful.
I mentally recite the reasons for our move: we’ll live mortgage-free, the kids will grow closer to their grandparents, and Josh will be so happy to be near his childhood home. I’m happy to make my family happy and give myself an imaginary pat on the back. But I know that martyrdom is a futile and tedious charade to maintain. People have moved across our vast country for centuries, so I don’t need to carry on as if I was the first woman to pack up and head west. Additionally, millennials are flocking to cheaper real estate and closeness to family. Thousands of us make the same decisions, sign the same forms and hire the same movers. I am not alone, even if it is like that.
The phone rings again – “We’re both online now,” Josh tells our realtor. “Tell us more about this second offer.”
The real estate agent launches. It’s a terrific offer, apparently. Couldn’t be better. No conditions, not even a home inspection. Just a huge asking price.
“Let’s let the first offer know we’re about to sign this one then.”
Hang-ups all around.
I trace the pattern of the rug, small pockets to collect crumbs under the table. How I fought this rug in its provocative whiteness. Or is it the children I fought in my quest to keep the Berber carpet clean? I wonder if our new house will have carpet. Tile? Hardwood? Click vinyl flooring? We haven’t bought anything yet. Selling our house in Ottawa was our priority. In addition, Saskatchewan’s real estate market is moving more slowly. We will have time to buy.
Time is funny, though. I always knew Josh wanted to go home. In the future. When the kids were older. But then the future came and the children grew up.
It makes sense to go back to your roots 10 or 15 years after college. When you’re in school, you don’t know how far your career will go or how well you’ll shine in the job market. You don’t mind seedy apartments or junky cars. You are going up! But when 35 is behind and 40 is ahead, your career potential feels fulfilled. If you were going to make massive waves, you would have done them already. Your kids need roller skates and bikes and safe streets to ride them. It’s time to reprioritize.
The phone rings again. It’s just Josh this time, with the real estate agent apparently foregoing conference calls – “The first offer is going to be reviewed!” More money!”
I lie between a partially destroyed block tower, a lumpy foam ball too soft to bounce, and a rubber parrot abandoned from its pirate ship. Zachary climbs onto my chest and happily claps my cheeks. Her nose is runny from a winter cold or something worse. Who knows these days? When I try to wipe his nose, he turns his head away, happy to smear my blouse instead. I’m going to have to find a new pediatrician in Saskatchewan, yet another thing to sort out. Will there also be a shortage of doctors in our new neighborhood?
The Phone – “Revised first offer is even better: way more than asking, huge down payment, no strings attached and our preferred possession date! Watch your email for the agreement.
I glance around the room, mentally counting the effort of moving. A grand piano, every six feet. So many shelves, not to mention the books. A fake fireplace. Would it be silly to take it?
The weight of possessions is not only physical, it is also mental. The duality of human relationships with objects is complicated. Does my piano belong to me or do I belong to my piano? Am I going to cringe to see him crated and pushed out the front door? Is it better to sell it here and buy a new one? Will I ever read those books that I’ve put away for years? Does the current edition of me even like the books I was so in love with in college? And why do we have six saucepans?
Again the phone – “Did you get the offer?” Did you sign?”
I open my tablet and read the contract. All the details are correct, written in legal terms: I am about to sell my house. The house I renovated. Decorated. Cleaned and paid. The house where I carried newborn Zachary. The house that I have loved for many years. I join the great millennial migration.
I choose to stop thinking about it. I create a computer generated signature and click on the confirmation screen. It’s over so quickly. I’m selling my house without even leaving the dining room floor.
Amy Boyes lives in Warman, Saskatchewan.
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