A happy real estate story (not to give away the ending)

Remember how I was telling you my house was on the market? And about what a bittersweet, poignant process letting go was? I mistily recalled all the backyard birthday parties, and admitted to sneaking over to my neighbor Annie’s back porch and spying every time potential buyers drove up.

And remember how I confessed to cracking open a bottle of Cabernet one night and blasting the Billy Joel song “I’ve Loved These Days” over and over when I thought my daughter wasn’t listening? (Well, it turned out she was. Now she thinks I slept on satin sheets and need to change my jaded ways.)

Then I didn’t tell you anything for four months.

Sorry about that.

The thing is, something kind of amazing happened, and as eager as I was to share it, I was even more determined not to jinx it, so I went into stealth mode. Not just with you, but with my real-life best friends, too.

When it comes to real estate, you just can’t be too careful.

It started in January of 2011, when I spotted a house that made my heart stop, and wrote a note to the owner, asking her to let me know if she ever wanted to sell. “Back off, stalker,” she wrote back (except politely). So much for that, I sighed, and resumed logging onto Realtor.com five times a day, searching in vain for a house special enough to wrench me away from the one I was unnaturally attached to.

Over a year later, still conflicted about selling my house, and debating whether or not to list it again in the spring, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time: I asked Michael for a sign. “Not to bother you,” I said out loud in the car, where I knew my daughter couldn’t eavesdrop, and looking heavenward for just a second because I was driving, “but can you figure out a way to let me know it’s time to move on?”

The very next morning — I swear — I got an email from the woman saying she was finally ready to sell her house, and would I like to see it?

I was smitten by every fixer-upper inch. The catch was, she’d already closed on a new place, and was in too much of a hurry to wait for me to put my house back on the market. But it turned out a couple who had bid on my house two years ago — we’d gotten to the point where we were negotiating about the swing set and the extra refrigerator in the basement, when I chickened out — were still interested. Because they loved my house, too.

So they bought it, just like that. And I bought this:

Meet the new house!

May 30 was the last night I slept in the home where I spent the happiest years of my life, where Michael used to sing Irish drinking songs while he cooked dinner and my children weren’t teenagers yet, so they still thought I was wonderful, and thin. But even though moving was painful, and the process every bit as onerous as I’d thought it would be, guess what?

I like it here. A lot.

When I brought a contractor to the house, he laughed at me. “What did you do, drive all over town until you found something that looked exactly like your old house?”

Well, yes. That’s exactly what I did, I just didn’t realize I was doing it. But now I don’t have a mortgage or an acre of unused lawn to (pay someone else to) mow. And despite the sewage backup in the basement (I know, ewww!) and the fact that when I turned my brand new central air conditioning system on, it caused a power outage on the whole block (“Don’t tell anyone it was me!” I hissed at the startled Con Ed foreman as a workman scrambled down the pole because they were afraid the transformer was going to explode), I’m happy.

It’s really, really hard to move on, but at some point, if you let them, the people and places you’ll carry in your heart forever stop feeling like a weight, and start lifting you up.

Welcome, rest of my life.