It’s official: the sign in the front yard says, “For Sale.” We’ve been boxing, finishing, polishing, staging, and stressing for the last couple weeks– all so we could put our lives on display for the world to see. See my clutter-free life? Would you like to buy it?
Of course, even pared down to what feels like almost nothing, it’s not clutter-free. We have culled once, twice, and we need to again. I’m trying to get used to putting the electric teapot in the cabinet instead of leaving it on the counter. My family is learning to look for the kleenex box and lotion bottle inside cabinets after every showing. And don’t even get me started on where in my tiny bedroom and closet I’m keeping all my perfumes and shoes (not that I generally keep them together… but hey, that’s not a bad idea, right? Just stick the perfume bottles inside the shoes et voila— 2 birds, 1 stone.) Then there’s the wide expanse of maple next to my bed– it used to hold an interesting array of reading materials and homemade gifts from the kids, but now it is a barren plain polished to perfection. (OK, I didn’t say the de-cluttering was a bad thing!)
So that’s what we’ve been up to. Yesterday was our first big open house. We had the local brokers through on Wednesday, and two showings on Friday. Still no offers. Every time we have a showing, I scramble to clean and polish anew, plus make sure all the stray stuff is put away. I stash away the small appliances in the kitchen, drag Guster’s bed out to my car, pack up my laptop and power cords, and see that the pillows are properly placed and the coasters are in one neat stack. The hardest part is being sure at the last minute that no one has dragged out the Barbie box, tracked mud through the front door, or left toilet paper trailing out of the toilet in one of the bathrooms… Then it’s a rush to get into the car and out of the driveway before the viewers arrive.
Once we’re out of the house, then begins the challenge of keeping a carful of kids and a dog happy during exile. We’re driving around, eating McD’s in the car (which is great for the Littles, but… bleck!… once was enough!). Or, if we’re lucky, the weather is nice enough to pick something up and take it out to the lighthouse or some other dog-friendly venue. So far, for every event, including the photo shoot last Monday, at least one child has been home sick (in the photo of the kids’ room, you can see Claire sleeping on the bottom bunk– but she wasn’t in the photos for the realtor!). Chloe got dragged around in the car Wednesday, and then she got sick again Friday night and was stuck in the car with us instead of in her bed. Quinn was sick yesterday for the open house. He spent some of the time lying on a park bench at the lighthouse.
And who can I thank for these refugee moments while our house is on the market? To whom can I attribute this obsessive fixing of every broken thing we’ve lived with (relatively happily, I might add) for the last several years? And who made me feel like I must “upgrade” our home by removing all traces of our happy chaos, from the dog bed to the coffee makers? Thank you, HGTV. I’ll send the bill when the prospective buyers decide we have to add a second bay to the garage to make the property inhabitable.
It’s ironic that there is no trace of the dog in the house when it is shown, and the kitchen looks like no one cooks in it. The animal and the well-used kitchen are two of the most identifiable aspects of our lifestyle, and we’ve erased them to create some illusion of the house fostering a clean, ordered existence. On second thought, I guess I do thank you, HGTV. This fiction you have us promoting– about the clutter-free, perfectly neat, cinnamon-smelling home– means that we are not, after all, selling our lives. We’ll keep them, messy and disordered though they may be. But maybe someone will want to buy this well-ordered space in which to create their own happy chaos.