Life as a House (on the Market)

Almost two weeks ago, we put our house on the market. The townhouse where I’ve stayed up nights rocking babies and where I learned to ferment vegetables and where I taught my boys to tie their shoes…it’s for sale and now even under contract.

cucumbers in the fermentation process.
Cucumbers in the fermentation process.

The process of preparing it to go on the market took work, as you can imagine. We packed away books, toys, winter clothes (not that we have many of those), dishes we don’t regularly use, school projects from past years–and much more. Then we cleaned, corners and baseboards and doors that I would never consider wiping and swabbing if we hadn’t planned to show this home to strangers who might consider making it their own home.

Then we took pictures of the house:  our granite counter-topped kitchen, our freshly mopped floors, our newly painted walls. But after the cleaning and before the photos, we tucked many parts of our daily lives out of site. And then for each showing (and the open house, too), we shoved quotidian bits and pieces into cabinets and closets and dresser drawers–trash cans, hairbrushes, lotion, ear plugs. The everyday items of life got relegated to out-of-sight locations, lest they clutter up our house photos or create messiness that might turn off potential buyers.

All well and good, since our house went under contract less than two weeks after listing it. But with each showing, each time I took half-used bars of soap and stuck them deep into the bathroom cabinet, I thought about the idea of hiding normal, necessary things where nobody can see them.

A bale of laundry waiting to be folded. And not seen by potential home buyers.
A bale of laundry waiting to be folded. And not seen by potential home buyers.

Although this makes sense when trying to sell a house, it’s not how I want to live my life. Certainly not long term in a home, but more so, not in the parts of myself that I reveal to others. Tucking away my insecurities or struggles or hurts that I labor to get past may cause me to appear more put together to a stranger. But it does nothing but hurt intimacy and friendship and closeness. And I know which I’d rather have.

Now that we have a contract, our house is technically in the “pending” status, not totally on the market. So there are no more house showings (unless the contract falls through). Time to start leaving out the toothbrushes and the stack of dish towels on top of the fridge again. Because a house–like a life–is meant to be lived in. Fully.

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