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It all goes down in the middle of the dining room floor. Surrounded by Fisher Price, I keep baby Zachary entertained with a toy car garage – ”Ding! Ding! Ding!” goes the lift – while I intermittently answer the phone.
“There are two offers now!” gushes my husband, Josh. “The realtor is working on a bidding war.”
Hang up. Silence.
I push a toy car off the garage roof. “Wipeout!” I whisper as it crashes. Zachary giggles, his soft tummy and double chin bouncing in unison. Encouraged by his reaction, I flick a dump truck after the car and watch him roar in laughter. I wish I could be as easily humoured, but selling a home and moving across the country is stressful.
I mentally recite our reasons for moving: We will live mortgage-free, the children will grow up closer to their grandparents and Josh will be so happy to be close to his childhood home. I’m pleased to make my family happy and give myself an imaginary pat on the back. But I know martyrdom is a futile charade and tiresome to maintain. People have moved from one end of our vast country to the other for centuries, so I needn’t carry on as if I’m the first woman to pack up and head west. Besides, millennials are flocking to cheaper real estate and proximity to family. Thousands of us are making these same decisions, signing the same forms and hiring the same movers. I am not alone, even if it feels that way.
The phone rings again – ”We’re both on the line now,” Josh says to our realtor. “Tell us more about this second offer.”
The realtor launches in. It’s a terrific offer, apparently. Couldn’t be better. No conditions, not even a home inspection. Just a whopper of an asking price.
“Let’s warn the first offer we’re about to sign this one then.”
Hang-ups all around.
I trace the carpet pattern, little pockets to collect crumbs under the table. How I’ve battled this carpet in its defiant whiteness. Or has it been the children I’ve battled in my quest to keep the Berber rug clean? I wonder if our new house will have carpet. Tile? Hardwood? Vinyl click flooring? We haven’t purchased anything yet. Selling our home in Ottawa was our priority. Besides, the Saskatchewan real estate market moves more slowly. We’ll have time to buy.
Time is funny, though. I always knew Josh wanted to return home. In the future. When the kids were older. But then the future came and the kids got older.
It makes sense to return to your roots 10, or 15 years after university. When you’re in school, you don’t know how far your career will go, or how spectacularly you’ll shine in the job market. You don’t mind dingy apartments or junky cars. You’re on the way up! But when 35 lies behind and 40 lies ahead, your career potential feels realized. If you were going to make massive waves, you would have made them by now. Your children need roller skates and bicycles and safe streets to ride them on. It’s time to reprioritize.
The phone rings again. It’s only Josh this time, the realtor seemingly giving up on conference calls – ”First offer is going to revise! More money!”
I lie down between a partially destroyed tower of blocks, a lumpy foam ball too soft to bounce and a rubber parrot marooned from its pirate ship. Zachary climbs onto my chest and whacks my cheeks happily. His nose runs from a winter cold or something worse. Who knows these days? When I try to wipe his nose, he whips his head away, pleased to smear my blouse instead. I will need to find a new pediatrician in Saskatchewan, yet another thing to sort out. Will there be a doctor shortage in our new neighbourhood, too?
The phone – ”The revised first offer is even better: way over asking, a huge down payment, no conditions and our preferred possession date! Watch your e-mail for the agreement.”
I glance around the room, mentally tallying the effort of moving. A grand piano, all six feet of it. So many bookshelves, never mind the books. A faux fireplace. Would it be silly to take it?
The weight of belongings is not just physical, it’s mental, too. The duality of human relationships with objects is complicated. Does my piano belong to me or do I belong to my piano? Will I cringe to watch it crated and shoved through the front door? Is it better just to sell it here and buy new? Will I ever read those books I’ve shelved for years? Does the current edition of me even like the books I was so enamoured with in university? And why do we have six saucepans?
The phone again – ”Did you get the offer? Did you sign?”
I flip open my tablet and read the agreement. All the details are correct, laid out in legal terms: I am about to sell my home. The home I renovated. Decorated. Cleaned up and paid for. The home I carried newborn Zachary into. The home I’ve loved for many years. I’m joining the great millennial migration.
I choose to stop thinking about it. I create a computer-generated signature and click through to the confirmation screen. It’s over so quickly. I sell my house without even leaving the dining room floor.
Amy Boyes lives in Warman, Sask.
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