The future invades our lives

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.–Alvin Toffler

I am feeling restless and ill-at-ease thinking about it, and the many, many steps it’s going to take to sell our house and get us settled somewhere new across the bay. It’s been a great house to raise three kids in, spacious and light, big enough to offer those same adult kids shelter for themselves and their families when they needed it.  But now, too big, too much work, too many stairs, too steep a hill, too far from stores and libraries and parks.

It’s time to move on…but but but, a thousand decisions to be made to make it happen.  Today I was contemplating whether we’d need to move someplace temporarily between selling this place and finding another, and what would we do with our stuff in the interim, and should the temporary place be furnished or unfurnished and omigod what about the cats?!!  My husband is so distracted by other things it’s not easy to get him to focus on it, which makes me feel like it’s all on me and even more anxious, my stomach turning over and skin prickling and wishing someone would just walk in and take care of it all.  Like my father, for instance, who was an engineer and knew all about retaining walls and could’ve told us exactly what we need to do about the retaining wall lying in great chunks of brick and concrete in the dirt of the backyard.

And there’s the whole question of the house, which needs a lot of work even besides the backyard ruin.  Is it worth trying to make it look all sleek and move-in ready, which we’d have to borrow thousands of dollars to accomplish and if it didn’t sell right away be living on peanut butter sandwiches while we paid back the loan? Or we could sell it as is–let some speculator redo the kitchen with granite counters and state-of-the-art appliances, show it with staged antiques from Metamorphosis Homes, Inc. and sell it to some yuppies from Silicon Valley who won’t have time to cook anyway because they spend hours each day on a private commuter bus provided by Apple or Yahoo or Google to ferry their very special employees about the region.

The truth is, we are insanely lucky to have been able to buy a house when and where we did, and I just wish we could pass that luck along to some other family with young kids who’d move in feeling like this big, ugly, cheaply built house was a palace beyond their wildest dreams, as we did. But the times have changed, and families like ours used to be, like our children’s families are, don’t have a prayer of that these days, not in San Francisco.

Where will we go
with our table and chairs,

our bed,
our nine thousand books,
our TV, PC, VCR,
our cat
who is sixteen years old?
Where will we put down
our dishes and our blue carpets,
where will we put up
our rose-colored,
rice-paper
shades?

–From On Losing a House,
by Mary Oliver

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4 Responses to The future invades our lives

  1. mishedup says:

    Well. You know I am where you are, and I am….I am where you are! It’s frightening and yes I want the family to walk in and realize the flow of the house is heaven and not notice the things I won’t be able to fix….to walk in and love this house exactly as i did on that day 21 years ago. To sit outside in the dark , dreaming, while escrow closed..,
    and then I went and read the whole poem and am sobbing now.
    At the sadness and the beauty, at it all…

    xo

    • sswl says:

      Yes, I think we’re in very much the same place, and it’s wonderful to have someone who understands so well. It’s not even the house itself, though there are things I love about it, it’s all the life that was lived here. But it’s time–a rite of passage to another phase of life.

      I added a link to the whole poem, thanks to your comment. In the collection of hers its taken from, “What Do We Know,” the lines of this particular poem are centered, which adds some dimension I can’t quite verbalize, something to do with the contracting and expanding shape of life over time. It’s a lovely poem, isn’t it?

  2. Lisa Neumann says:

    Ohhh, I see right now that I have taken much for granted. Thank you for the lovely reminder. Why is it you always touch that tender place in me that brings me back to home, back to my family? I just had to read your post before I closed up the office and went home. I’m so glad I did. I’m with mishedup “the sadness and the beauty, at it all …” I love when you write. but you already know that :) L. xox

  3. sswl says:

    Thank you, Lisa. your comments always give me pleasure.
    I’ve lived in this house longer than anywhere else, including the house I grew up in. It’s where my husband and I raised our children, loved and lost cats and dogs and turtles and rabbits, and grew old together. Lots to leave behind, and it probably won’t be the last time I write about it. :)

    I added a link to the whole poem, which I’d neglected to earlier. It’s quite wonderful.

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