Our apartment is now officially on the market. After a week-plus of Operation DDD (Declutter, Deep Clean, & Donate), our home is looking pretty slamming, so I'm cautiously optimistic that it will strike some unknown New Yorker's fancy. I hope so because we are slated to move into our new place in two months or so. Right around the time of my book release. This isn't a busy time or anything. Nah.
Anyway, yesterday was our first open house. After yet another speed-cleaning operation, Husband, the girls and I left our place in the capable hands of our wonderful broker and drove to New Jersey to visit our good friends and their new home. While we were tending to backseat vomit volcanoes and touring our new friends' palatial abode, our broker welcomed scores of strangers into our home. Strangers who then trouped through our space. Seeing our pictures. Seeing our stories. Seeing those terrible stains on our beleaguered white chairs.
It was an exquisite winter/spring day. We couldn't have ordered up a better one. And we had a good time in New Jersey catching up with our friends and their two kids, watching our girls soak in the suburban splendor and run free in the space they will never quite have. And my mind was there. It was. On the laughter, on the appetizers, on the kiddie mayhem.
But my mind was also elsewhere. Here. On this house. On this home. This place that has pillowed me through so much. My safe haven. I kept imagining the parade of people walking from room to room. Running fingertips along surfaces. Our surfaces. Peeking through windows. Our windows. Loving or hating a layout. Our layout.
Yes, I couldn't stop thinking of all those who stopped by to glimpse a house. A home. A world.
Our house. Our home. Our world.
After the open house was over, our broker called with a report. She said there were twenty-four parties who signed in! That there was a lot of good interest, that many people would like to make an appointment to come back and see our place again. And this is good. This is very good.
So why doesn't this feel so good then? Why does this feel more complicated than good?
Because it is.
When night fell, we secured sleepy girls in car seats and made our way home. The drive was quick. And while Husband was returning Sister I's car (I - there is no aromatic or physical evidence of baby vomit - I promise!), the girls and I settled in at home. We walked in and I turned the lights on.
And our place seemed different. There were no precarious piles of mail. There were no dishes in the sink. There were no cat toys littering the hardwoods. There was no mess. There was no noise.
The place already felt a little less ours.
I took the girls up to bed. We picked pajamas. We read a book. We sang a song. And as we did these things last night, I looked around. I lingered on things I wouldn't otherwise notice. The pale yellow stripes on the wall we will leave behind. The black and white pattern on the carpet that won't be ours for long.
And then I kissed my girls goodnight.
And this morning, I realize as I write these words, that my surge of emotion about moving, about big change, is probably perfectly par for the course. That transitions, even the most exquisite transitions, can be both beautiful and difficult at once.
And I realize something else - right here, right now - as I type these words one after the other. I realize that it is open house every day here chez ILI. You come here, benevolent strangers, and poke around. Some of you sign in with comments and some of you just come and go. But all of you take it in - the stories, the pictures, the questions. Each of you glimpses me and my world through the crafty and clumsy evidence I leave for you - my words, my worries, my wants. Some of you like what you see and come back. Some of you shake your head no and never return.
And now my mind flits feverishly, going where the metaphor, this good metaphor, takes me...
Is this blogosphere a virtureal estate market of sorts? Are we bloggers selling ourselves and our stories? Are we opening ourselves up and inviting others in? Are we advertising the aspects of our worlds? The layouts of our lives? The fixtures and fittings of our fears? The rooms of our regret? Are we, in effect, saying, Stop by, walk around, take a look, see if you like what I have to offer? See if it's worth the investment?
Do we bloggers declutter our hearts and our heads and our homes before showing them off? Do we wipe down the surfaces of soul and psyche before letting people in? Do we touch up the paint of our parenthood or our personhood? Do we make ourselves seem more ordered, more open, more generic so that others will like us?
Or do we bloggers do the opposite? Do we welcome legions of strangers and say, I do not have it all together. Look at this clutter in my mind, look at this dirty pile of longing, look at the cracks in my ceiling?
Who knew that a simple open house would be (for me) not-so-simple? Who knew that contemplating good change would send me into a metaphorical Monday madness? Who knew that hanging a price tag on my past and my place would create a thicket of mixed feelings about permanence and progress?
How have you handled the moves in your life (between homes, relationships, jobs, etc)? Did you have mixed feelings too? Do you enjoy attending open houses? If so, why? Do you agree that blogging is - in some sense - like hosting a 24/7 Open House? Where do you think this metaphor breaks down?
ILI DAILY CHARMS
I am hard at work on Novel #2, so I am having a tough time staying on top of my favorite blogs, but I just read two posts from favorite cyber creatives. Both have been blogging for a year now and both write exquisitely and evocatively about the past year and the ways in which blogging has changed them (and not changed them). Check out these women and their words: