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A Lament

A Lament

Twelve years ago, I went out on a limb and bought a house without Lia even seeing it. Not advisable. But under the circumstances, it was the only way it could be done. She was in her last month of residency AND pregnancy – a wicked combination – not one that was suitable for flying across the country to go house hunting.

So the house hunting was on me. The key was trying to figure out what she would like. I could live in a well-duct-taped cardboard box and be all right, so in many ways this decision was all about her (I knew the duct-taped thing wasn’t going to cut it).

I flew across the country. I brought in help in the form of Lia’s mom. She graciously came down to help. So Sue, our realtor and I spent the day shopping for houses. We made out rank list. There was one we really liked. It had a pool. I never had a pool. I called Lia. She wasn’t sure about the pool. So we kept looking.

Finally, late in the day, we found a suitable house and we went for it. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about the house with the pool. I thought about how my friend Mark had a pool at his house and we spent all our time in the summer over there and not at my house because he had the pool and I didn’t.

I thought I want that kind of house for our kids. I want the pool. So as I was boarding the plane to fly back across the country I called our realtor and told her to get me out of the first contract and to draw up a contract for the house with the pool.

And that’s what she did. Twelve years later, I’m typing on a computer at the table that the family graciously left for us when we bought their house from them.

We love this house. Not just all the memories that we have made in it – which is what a house is really made for – but the actual house. It’s a great house. The pool has turned out to be a great thing. We have hardly had to fix anything. We have one of the prettiest yards around.

Anyway, a few months back, we decided to make a move. A house came on the market that really was Lia’s dream home, and we put in an offer not knowing if it would be taken and it was!

Oh boy. There was actually two oh boys. The first was OH BOY!!! And then there was the second Oh boyyyyy….. we’ve got to sell our house!

The first thing we realized is you accumulate a whole lot of stuff in twelve years. It was time for a purge. Not easy. Not fun. But we sparked joy and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The next thing was, oh yeah, that light switch that you always have to jiggle to get it to go on that doesn’t bother us might actually bother someone else. After twelve years, you don’t realize how many little things you end up putting up with without even thinking about it.

The third thing was, oh man, we have to keep this thing clean, like all the time. And we have to find something to do with the dogs. And we have to make our beds.

The fourth thing was, oh wow! We have a zillion showings. This is awesome. Oh, wait. They all keep giving us feedback like they don’t like our knobs on the kitchen cabinets.

The fifth thing is the purgatory rollercoaster that we have ridden of hopes and defeats every time it seems like a family has gotten close to pulling the trigger and then for some reason or another backing out.

The sixth thing is people saying they love our house but we are asking too much for it. Well, friend, make a freaking offer! You don’t know who you are dealing with – at this point we would give the sucker away!

The seventh thing is how it has created this base level of stress. We have been using a hundred point scale. Say, normal daily stress rides at about 25-30. Selling a house stress has taken our base to about 80-85. What happens is that any added bumps in stress almost always take us up over 100 where things are NOT GOOD.

The eighth thing is “Come on, Lord.” We have prayed all kinds of prayers, so where is the flippin answer? What is the Lord up to when his timing is not your timing and your timing has some pretty clear deadlines.

The ninth thing is that it has changed how my wife sees the old house – it is now the enemy. This makes me sad. This house has only been good to us. It is not the enemy. But throughout the selling process it has felt like things are against us.

The tenth thing is the difficulty in making the transition. When do we move? How do we move when we have to keep the house looking good? What should we leave? What should we take with us?

All these things have made the last couple months harder than I wished they had been. I know we will get through it. I am hopeful that we will one day look back on this and say it was worth it. Even if we don’t – I’m glad I have a champ like my wife to go through this with me.

I am confident in this, says the Poet David, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Until then, we wait.

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Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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