Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Decisions That Matter

I am thinking maybe I should change the name of this blog to But Then I Sold My House.

Not only is it the only thing I’ve been writing about lately, it’s also the only thing I’ve been thinking about. So yeah, for those of you who have been around (here, or in my “real” life), no more Open Houses for us. We sold. (Not, mind you, thanks to the aforementioned sucky open houses, but because we finally caved and listed on the MLS, which just goes to further prove my theory that Open Houses really do suck). We officially listed our house on Friday morning and by Sunday afternoon we had not one, but two, buyers. Somehow, in a matter of a month, I have gone from just considering the possibility of moving, to signing a contract and running around town collecting liquor boxes for packing (it would be even nicer if the liquor was still in them).

I would never describe myself as a risk-taker.

More of a chicken.
With anxiety.
And a near-compulsive need to control everything and avoid change of all sorts at all costs.

Except, maybe I’m not.

I’ve given this some thought, and I’m starting to think that maybe I am a little gutsy…at least when it matters.

Take, for instance, my divorce 15 years ago. I was 25 years old and had been married to a man who everyone thought was the cat’s meow, but really, he was just a pussy who constantly told me to lower my voice and wear more beige. I didn’t tell anyone I was thinking of leaving, because I knew everyone would try to convince me to stay, and to be quite honest, back then, I was too young and too scared to be really confident in my choice. So I mulled it over for 2 years, alternated between trying to be what he wanted me to be and being even more of what I truly was, and made myself nearly sick with anxiety and resentment. When I finally walked out and told people, I had almost no support. My parents thought I was crazy and barely spoke to me (except to tell me I was crazy). My sister told me she thought I was making a huge mistake that I would regret for the rest of my life and “simply could not support this.”  My best friends told me they couldn’t be my friends anymore because “divorce is against the Catholic religion” (I kid you not). People at work kept whining: “But whyyy? He seemed like such a niiiice guy and you guys made suuuuuch a cuuuuute couple…”

Over the year that followed I got my own apartment for the first time in my life, started dating the man of my dreams, and became my own person. Now, in the interest of complete disclosure here, I will admit that, on most days, I did not accomplish all of this with grace. Not even close. I was a blubbering, anxious, over-eating, not-sleeping, therapy-attending, scared shitless little mess.

But I did it anyways.

And now here I am, selling The Dream House Of My Grown-Up Life, moving in temporarily with my parents (they no longer think I’m crazy—or maybe they do, but they just don’t tell me anymore), buying an RV to live and travel in over the summer, and hoping to eventually find a house that will be smaller, cheaper, but still "cute enough," so that we can live the Life We Really Want. I have no idea what the next 6 months hold in store. I am cleaning out 9 closets worth of Stuff that is being sorted into piles labeled Garage Sale, Throw Away, Keep. Every time I step into my little oasis of a closet with its mini chandelier and get teary, I remind myself that a wall of stilettos is not worth giving up trips with my husband and a college fund for my kids.

When people ask where we are moving to and I answer, “We don’t know yet,” the responses seem to follow a theme: 
“Wow, you’re bold.”
“Wow, you’re brave.”
"Wow, you're crazy."
“You guys are like gypsies.”
“You guys are like hippies.”
"You guys are perfect for each other."
"You're gonna be miserable in a smaller house."
"Your kids are gonna be miserable in a smaller house."
"Why do you want a smaller house?"
Or my personal favorite:
“You’re going to live in an RV?!?”

Then there are those few people who listen quietly and nod and smile and ask questions about our plan, and seem confused or concerned while I'm talking, but then will tell me--almost in a conspiratorial whisper--something along the lines of: "Wow, I really admire you guys."

It's interesting how when a person is making a major life move, especially one that tends to go against the norm, people have strong opinions (which they tend to volunteer freely). I suspect for some, it is truly out of concern and love because they are worried we are making a mistake. For others, I suppose it is simply disconcerting to see others doing something that holds potential regret. And I have no doubt that some are forced to face their own demons when presented with my choices.

It all makes me anxious: the packing, the waiting, the not knowing where we are going, the looking for a new neighborhood that is "good enough" but also "cheap enough" (quite a feat in South Florida), the giving up of this house...the house we thought would be The House. And yes, sometimes, people's reactions make me a little anxious too. But really, I have realized in my old age (uh, hello? 41?) that I have quite a rebellious side, and there is nothing like telling me something I think is a good idea is a bad idea to make me really want to tackle it and kick some serious ass coming out on the other side all shiny and happy.

The bottom line is: yes, some of this is risky. Yes, some of this is considered a little loopy, especially by society's standards (I can not tell you how many times people have asked me: "Who the hell downsizes?!?"), where everything and everyone is about More and Bigger--all categorized under the label of  "Improving." Yes, I am scared, sometimes. But I'm doing it anyways. Because this is really what I (we) want. This is worth the risk.

Just like that divorce so many years ago.

Sometimes, in life, even the chickenshits have to be brave and do things anyways...because that, after all, is what really matters.


  1. There is nothing chickenshit about following your gut instead of ignoring and living with regret. We all walk different paths, none which follow some "prescribed" and "approved" itinerary for other people. I think that's why there are so many miserable people out there. They are too busy living lives that they think other people approve of and they are too busy passing judgment on others instead of doing what is right for them. Peace of mind has no price tag, and few people are brave enough to take it on. So happy that you are letting go of much more than the house and sticking to what's right for your family. XO

  2. People are too busy pretending to be happy and too busy passing judgment on others that choose what's best for them rather than what's "acceptable" to everyone else. Perhaps that's why so many among us are so miserable. Kudos to you for doing what's right for you, for placing your peace of mind family and your priorities at ahead of the bullshit of what others might think. So happy for you and your family as you embark on this path. (PS I had a much better comment that Google Password recovery ate up...:()

  3. For what it's worth, I completely and utterly and entirely admire what you're doing. I respect your choice here more than I can possibly imagine. Choosing adventure, and a bigger life, in the ways that matter, recognizing that means smaller in physical things ... how could that be anything but awesome? You inspire me. (of course I'm terrified of everything too, so I absolutely relate to that). xox

  4. Who downsizes? *I* did. I had my "dream home" and loved it. We held on to that house through 2 1/2 years of unemployment. Once the unemployment passed, we discussed it and realized that as lovely as that house was it wasn't worth the stress of paying the mortgage, the upkeep and the cleaning. Currently, we are renting a town home which is WAY smaller until we figure out our next move. And you know what? We are fine. And breathing easy for the first time in a long time.

    I know the stress and panic that you are feeling- but once you get it behind you and are able to focus on the future the anxiety will fall away.

    And as for those who are questioning your decision? Well, their opinions really don't count. Their priorities are not YOUR priorities.

    Congrats on selling so quickly!

  5. Cool! An adventure!

    (That's what I make myself say when something I try to control makes itself known as something out of my control. And it always, without fail, turns out to be an adventure. The stuff you plan, the stuff you don't plan: it's all a big ol' adventure.)

    Have fun, and I hope you land in the best ever place for your family!

  6. This resonates so much with me (well, not the RV part, because I hate hate hate camping, but the downsizing part). We did this! We made a cross country move, so we sold our house (took 6 months and it SUCKED) and are currently renting a smaller townhouse (2 bedrooms! And we have 2 kids! But somehow we're surviving - heck, even thriving). When we do buy again - next year sometime, we hope - we plan to buy "just big enough." Bigger is not better in my book - not for houses, not for yards, not for MORE STUFF. We hope to have 1600-1800 sq ft, maybe; 3 beds, 2 baths, a bonus room. For us? ENOUGH. That's the goal. :) Good for you guys!!!!

  7. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! So brave & I am honestly completely in awe of that....I'm sure I've said this before but it is very few people who can know they are unhappy with something/someone/a marriage/a lifestyle AND then actually make the change that they know they must make. So many/most people just manage & soldier on.

    I really admire what you are doing.

    We have made a short-term move, just 6 months ago....for various reasons, it's been massively stressful....we don't know where we will move next. It will work out though!

    Good luck with the new house, can't wait to hear more! X


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