In this series of posts I’m telling about the mercies I received as I relocated from East Lansing, where Priscilla and I lived happily for 15 years, to a new home in Pittsburgh.
Once I’d resolved that I should move to Pittsburgh, the next step was to sell my house. By now it was mid-December. I’d never seen for-sale signs in the winter in East Lansing before. They’d always sprouted on the lawns with the crocuses in the spring. But for some reason, this winter three houses on my street had already been put up for sale, and one of them had sold. So I thought, “Let me at least speak with a realtor to see what I’d need to do to get the house ready, and to ask for advice about when to list it.”
Some friends had agreed that whenever I decided to sell, they’d refer me to their realtor, who’d done a great job for them. Hearing about my intentions, they asked her to contact me, and she did so within hours. “Okay,” I thought, “this is moving kind of fast, but let’s see if God is in it.”
I was first able to meet with this realtor the day after I returned from a Christmas and New Year’s trip to visit my family and Priscilla’s. She was a Christian woman who considered it her ministry to try to match people with homes they could genuinely afford and that would suit their lifestyles and meet their needs. “Nothing beats getting the right person into the right house,” she told me. I was delighted to have her represent the property and signed her on as my seller’s agent right away.
She toured the house and declared it “move-in ready.” The only thing she asked me to do in preparation for the listing was to take down the Christmas decorations I still had up! She returned three days later, we wrote up the listing, and it went online the next day.
Over the next two weeks, there were nine showings. And some other things were happening as well. On one very memorable day near the end of the second week, I reached a point in my freelance work where I could put everything on pause for a while if necessary; that same day, an inspector came and signed off on some changes the city had earlier asked me to make to the outflow from the house’s sump pump. Now I was assured the city had no further concerns that could create a hindrance to the sale. And this was also the day when I came to terms with leaving the house.
As I’ll explain more in a later post, the thought of moving from the place where Priscilla and I had lived very happily for 15 years was a huge “grief trigger.” But I finally worked through to the recognition that “your house is not your home.” Your home is the dwelling you create through personal effects that allow you to lead your life distinctively somewhere. These effects become a storehouse of memories and experiences, and continuity is created when you take many of them with you to make a new expression of that same life in the place where you’re called to settle next.
So after that day I had a strong sense of closure, as if something were now ready to happen. The following day there were two showings, both in the evening, so we wouldn’t hear back from the buyers’ agents until the next morning. But I had trouble falling asleep. I kept tossing and turning. I was telling myself, “Something has happened. Something has happened.” Then it struck me: There had been an offer. I fell asleep.
First thing in the morning, I checked email, and sure enough, one of the people who’d toured the house the evening before had gone right to the office of their buyer’s agent and written up an offer. “I knew it!” I said. (Actually, this came out in French: Je le savais! I think I picked up from Priscilla, who’d grown up in Quebec, the habit of using that language spontaneously for special emphasis when the occasion called for it.)
The price that was offered for the house was quite agreeable and I was happy to accept it. I signed the sales agreement. This was less than two weeks after the listing was posted. My agent had said when she first toured the house, “Somehow I have a feeling this place is going to sell fast.” She’d been right.
But had it been too fast? The buyer requested a March 1 move-in date and I agreed to it. That was in less than five weeks. Could I get ready to move out by then? And where would I be moving to? I didn’t have anywhere to go!