We’ve decided it’s time to move. Our children are living their lives in other cities and don’t intend to return to Atlanta any time soon. Even if they do choose to put down roots and build their own families here, they won’t take up residence in the large empty rooms upstairs. So, the rational, practical, and fiscally responsible thing to do is to sell the house and buy one that suits the lifestyle of working, empty nesters.
In order to list the house, however, we knew we were going to have to do some work first – starting with neutralizing the look of some rooms by repainting; de-personalizing by removing family pictures; de-Jewing (my term!) by putting away my collection of Hanukkah menorahs; and de-cluttering by cleaning out closets and removing excess furnishings – all of this to properly stage and show the house to a potential buyer.
On the one hand, this type of “whitewashing” and purging can be liberating and even cathartic. On the other, it can be daunting and overwhelming. I still am not sure how to categorize my feelings after tackling the first room…my daughter’s room.
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I lay on her bed and closed my eyes. Visions of early morning snuggles and late night chats flooded my mind. I was sure I could smell her freshly washed hair and feel her warm breath on my cheek. I quickly fought the tears and pushed away the memories, as I willed myself to pack up her trophies. What does one do with dozens of soccer and basketball trophies from over a decade of sports seasons? I called a local trophy store and was dumbfounded when the clerk told me to throw them away. Uch, I thought, this process is going to suck. I saved four cool-looking trophies, bagged the rest, and moved on to the bookshelves.
My emotions were under control as I tackled the books. It was easy to box up the paperbacks and toss the SAT prep books. But then I weakened when I got to the collection of Nancy Drews. The series had been mine. When my family moved to Israel when I was ten, almost forty-five years ago, my mother allowed me to bring along these beloved books that were given to me by a cousin. I cherished and kept them safe for all these years; only sharing them with my precious daughter.
I reached for the first book and smiled. Boy, had I loved this story. This book caused me to fall in love with Nancy Drew. This book made me want to BE Nancy Drew.
I lovingly caressed the cover and opened the book. I froze. I had not remembered exactly who gave the books to me, but here on the cover page – in her own handwriting – I was reminded.
I couldn’t resist. I texted my cousin Joanne and told her about my discovery. Much to my surprise, she asked if she could have her books back. “I have almost nothing from childhood. It would mean so much,” she wrote. How could I refuse her request?
With bittersweet emotions, I gathered, separated, tossed, and boxed for the entire weekend. I never imagined that down sizing meant touching, feeling, and reliving so much history. I had no idea that the decision to move – even though it was my idea – would bring so many tears. Whether or not I feel ready, I know it’s time to move on.
One room down. Twelve more to go.