So it’s the first of June and what better time for a recap on Life Lately while I’m feeling like the month is all fresh and new and untouched and lovely. I’m such a sucker for Fresh New Start.
Speaking of fresh new start…plans for Into Africa (wait..is the reference to Out of Africa here obvious enough because without that it’s a pretty bizarre way of referring to this whole thing so I just wanted to make sure?…)
Ok where was I, yes, plans are progressing ie: no that wasn’t just my hormones/general disgust at the weather/general instability talking…we’re still very much planning on this Doing This Thing.
I have this notebook. It’s very nice. I bought it the day I wrote this post. I thought the sentiment on the outside was appropriate and when I found the elephants inside it was a no brainer. Anyway that day I got all organized and divided that notebook up into different parts so that I could keep notes on everything revolving around this adventure in one place. Yes, I know that’s what an iPhone is for but I’m a pen and paper kind of girl and I love the feeling of checking things off..in ink.
So I reviewed it today and out of approximately 750 major things that need to be done to make this move happen…I was able to check off 3. So I’d say we are coming along really nicely considering the fact that we are planning to leave in approximately 62 days. That’s 12 major things to accomplish a day…right on track.
Here are some things I am learning about preparing one’s house to sell.
1. It is super expensive. Everything that you didn’t notice or lived with for the last decade is suddenly a glaring liability and hideous flaw in the matter of Getting The House Sold Quickly And For A Decent Price. And fixing all those things costs money. So much more than you would imagine. (Which is why you have lived with those things for the last decade).
2. It is one big gamble. If you invest in anything you have no idea whether or not you will make that money back with interest, or if you just fixed up the stuff that has bugged you for 10 years and then paid someone to take what is now your dream home off of your hands…Oh that I had a crystal ball and could figure out which things will pay off (if any).
3. Hiring people to do work on a house is almost as hard as persuading people to do it for free. Actually it might be harder. It is the weirdest thing! If you can get the person to a) call you back b)show up to do a quote c)actually give you the quote. You then have to d) inveigle them to give you a general ballpark time in which they might deign to do the work for you. Then they may or may not show up to do that work (we have only reached step d with couple of the several contractors we have contacted so I’m going on the sad experience of others who say that when they actually do show up they only show up for a day or two at a time and then they just leave and come back whenever they feel like to finish things off.) CONTRACT PEOPLE!! What the actual HELL is that all about??! I do not understand this! If there is anything that people want done well and quickly the first time (apart from dental work) I would have to say it would be you know..getting a roof put over one’s head or a functional kitchen/bathroom … I can’t imagine how people stay in business with this weirdo work ethic. It’s bonkers. I am hoping that this will not be the case for us and that I will have only glowing reports of work done in a timely and efficient manner but….we will shall see. Given the struggle it has been to get to d) I do not hold my breath.
4. It’s a ton of work. And we’ve not even halfway BEGUN the process. I’m pretty much constantly engaged in some sort of “getting the house ready to sell” endeavour and once again I don’t feel like we’ve even scratched the surface of the project. I’m not just saying this to sell it but it really is going to be seriously the CUTEST HOUSE EVER when we are done with it and I’m already jealous of theoretical new owners and a tad bitter that we didn’t have the means to do all this when we could have stuck around to enjoy it. Oh well! Bygones. (There’s always the possibility that the house will not sell and my husband will not find a job in SA and we will be back?)
5. All first world grousing aside, it’s going to be hard to leave this little house much as it had its little quirks like pink counter tops and the much hated little bathroom…and much as it gave me fits trying to stuff 5 growing kids and all their crap into it, this house sang to my soul the first moment I stepped over the threshold. I always say it gave me a hug and I was helpless to resist it after that. I knew we had to have it. I could feel the good spirit in its lovely old bones. It is a happy house, filled with over 100 years of memories of families being raised here. It is the first house we have ever owned. It’s where we raised our kids.
And now for some of the many many Feelings I’ve encountered over the last month or so regarding Moving In General
1.Excitement-there are so many things I am thrilled for. I can’t wait to see my family again, I can’t wait to show my children so many things, I think of at least 100 things a day I just can’t wait to experience or for my kids to experience.
2. Paralyzing inertia from contemplating all that needed to be done. Like there were a couple of days when I just said, “screw it” and I literally threw up my hands in despair at it all…and did nothing and figured it would just have to magically happen or we weren’t going. I think I just needed a break because the next day I woke up and suddenly everything was somewhat feasible again. Sometimes you just need a break. Nuff said.
3. Guilt-my kids are mostly very happy here. They have lovely friends. One of them has really struggled with the idea of moving (although seems to be coming around). We have lovely friends. The idea of leaving our friends and causing them or their kids sadness makes me feel so bad. That sounds so arrogant I know as if we are so irreplaceable and I don’t feel that way, but I do feel as if I’m blithely abandoning people here who have been so good to us and I hate that it might seem that way. I also hate the fact that my kids will be leaving friends who have become almost as close as siblings over the years. That is no small thing. On the other hand, all these years I have felt guilt for the fact that they have no extended family in their daily lives. Being a mom=Perpetual Guilt No Matter What. C’est La Vie.
Took this pic of Finny and his friend Thompson on his birthday on May 5th. They have grown up together, they play together in the park between our two houses almost every day. Today Finny read me this epic essay he wrote at the beginning of the school year on why Thompson is such an awesome friend. This picture makes my heart explode with joy and sadness.
4. Sadness-*see Guilt above.
5. Joy-*see Excitement above
6. Worry –well duh.
7. Confidence strangely enough for someone who is prone to freaking out about pretty much everything, I do feel an increased sense of confidence as D day approaches. (*See Evening of Emotion described below)
8. Disconnection/loneliness. It’s a weird thing when you know you are leaving a place and others are making plans for the future here without you. It makes it hard to feel a sense of connection. Everything suddenly looks and feels a little bit different. The familiar suddenly feels slightly foreign. It’s not quite yours anymore. You are an interloper…you don’t quite belong. I almost have the sense that I don’t have the right to be taking up space here in a place where people are contributing to its future and I’m ditching. It’s weird and a little bit lonely.
So there you have it. May was a MONTH. There was the physical pain and misery of the tooth. (So much better now! Hooray!) And then there was the emotional rollercoaster described in 1-8. It was May-hem at it’s finest.
One evening which encapsulated every emotion in the space of one hour happened when we attended the boy’s last orchestra concert a couple of weeks ago. The orchestra is far and away my favourite thing about the schools here. Their teacher has created an amazing program and watching my children perform with an orchestra has been nothing short of magical for me. I was so anticipating and dreading this evening. I am a disaster just watching the last concert every May because it is the senior’s last performance. And they aren’t even my kids! But now they were! And I was ripping them from the bosom of this awesomeness. I was afraid that it would be emotionally devastating to have to truly face the idea of THIS IS IT. We are leaving! I am taking them away from all this…they will never play with this lovely orchestra with their lovely friends again…..all these thoughts set to highly emotive music, music performed by my very own beautiful tuxedo clad offspring (who were JUST BORN by the way). Too much, too much. And I didn’t know the HALF of it.
The picture of Benj above was the crowning emotional moment at the end of the Evening of Emotion. I told him I really wanted a picture of him in his tuxedo (they put it on at school before they come on stage and leave in regular clothing so other than on stage I never have a chance to see/photograph him in it.) Anyway, Benj declared that this would NEVER happen as he cannot fathom anything more mortifying than posing for a picture in public for his mother. I resigned myself to the fact that it would never happen. At the end of the concert. Benj (who usually stoically pretends that we do not exist in these situations) caught my teary eye on the way off of the stage. He broke away from his group, turned around, came down the stairs off of the stage and stood to allow me to take this picture. I was so stunned that I barely managed to grab it before he came to his senses and departed... (the first shot was actually blurry, this one was taken as he was leaving)
It turned out that Benj’s orchestra group and Gabe’s orchestra group combined for a few numbers. This alone was emotionally fraught. My two babies. Performing together on a stage. Making gorgeous music. Ahhh all the FEELINGS! Also…one sits on one side of the stage and the other…all the way on the other. Where to point my phone for recording purposes?? Where!? (the recordings will make you seasick to watch).
Ok but wait…WAIIIIIIIIIT. Guess what they performed together? No GUESS. Ok I can’t stand the wait..I’m going to tell you. Music from the Lion King. The LIOOOON KING. Back-story: first date with Aaron was to see the Lion King. We were both desperately homesick for South Africa/Swaziland. We actually decided to get married on that very same first date. We had a whole “Lion King” theme at our wedding. (I know…we were really young, ok). This concert was held just a couple of days before our 19th wedding anniversary to make things extra sentimental.
*Here we are on said 19th anniversary
So to recap the emotional trauma: Our two oldest kids played “our” song, the song we had our first dance to just days before our wedding anniversary, at their final orchestra performance.
To be honest the the number that made me the most verklempt was The Circle of Life because really and truly…was there ever a more circle of life moment than this one? 19 years later, watching our kids playing the music that defined our courtship, preparing to take them back to the place that brought us together. Oh em gee. It was too much.
It was like this silly twitterpated little couple:
had become these ridiculously proud parents in this bewilderingly blindingly quick blink of an eye.
We really did keep glancing at each other in just that way like..wow, can you believe this? We are all grown up! Those are our kids playing our song! I guess we are old now! And it’s strangely awesome!
But surprisingly enough even though this was to be the last time our kids would perform with this amazing orchestra surrounded by their childhood friends as we sat in the audience beside our friends who had been on this journey with us for the last decade… the overriding feeling was not sadness. Although it was certainly there. Sadness, nostalgia, general sentimentality. But also peace and joy and excitement to be moving forward with the circle. I do feel like we are on the right track and as truly difficult and heart wrenching it is to contemplate leaving behind people and attachments here, I do believe those relationships will continue from afar and be renewed at a future time and that this adventure is the next arc of our circle.
Here’s a video of the selections from the Lion King pieces (they played so much INCREDIBLE music that night wish I could share it all). You can see glimpses of Gabe between the conductors feet from time to time-on violin in the red. Benj on the far right on cello. But I warned you about the sea-sickness. I was so taken with the moment that the videoing was a secondary concern (as it should be no?) So close your eyes, crank up the volume and enjoy.