Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baking for Imaginary Friends

Whoa – that vanilla candle needs dusting!

That’s how I spend my time now, with silly thoughts and impulsive cleaning, just in case someone wants to look at the condo. Or maybe “impulsive” is not the right word. I’m starting to think “compulsive” might be a better choice.

I now dust candles, wipe down the sink every time I turn it on, empty the trash if it holds even one lone banana peel, hide the damp towels after I shower, pick up the cat’s toys twice a day, arrange my library books so that any potentially offensive titles are on the bottom, carefully rinse any plate twice before it goes into the dishwasher and tuck away “to-do” lists where I will never find them until it’s too late to do whatever I had in mind.

Today I am baking pumpkin bread for tomorrow's Open House. I meant to bake it tomorrow, so the lovely aroma of cinnamon, clove and pumpkin would be strongest, but I decided I couldn’t handle the stress of baking and cleaning up on The Day.

The bread, of course, is for the people who come to look at the condo. I have come to think of these people as my Imaginary Friends. That’s because for the past three weeks, I have only imagined that someone would come.

This is not happening just at my place. I’ve spoken with plenty of people trying to sell homes who are drawing thin crowds, if any. Driving down the street, observing the many “For Sale” signs, I am tempted to stop, knock on doors and ask how the owners are feeling. Maybe we need to form a support group.

Right now (thanks for asking) I’m feeling good, because I made a new plan, a plan that finally feels right. For weeks, I’ve been waffling about whether to hire someone to run a downsizing sale for me, have the sale on my own (with friends, of course), haul stuff to consignment shops or donate whatever I choose not to hand to people – people whose taste I know -- who happen to stop by.

First, I contacted a person who runs sales. Then I interviewed friends who have held recent sales and friends who attend sales. I went so far as to buy little sale-price stickers. Friday, I visited consignment shops and stopped in at a resale shop that takes donations.

Finally! Finally, instead of waiting for the stars to align or the last piece of a puzzle to drop in or the specific answer to an ambiguous clue to occur to me, finally I started putting my skills into action. I know how to do research, and I’ve been doing some. Before this, I was just… waiting.

That is exactly what is driving me crazy about trying to sell the condo – it’s a passive process. You sign papers and get your info on a list and then you wait. I have allowed this insidious waiting mode to take over other aspects of my life. I was waiting to decide this or think about that. I was waiting for other people to make the case for one plan of action or another. One day, I was even waiting for the carpenter to help me hang one picture on a wall.

“Sure, I’ll help,” he said. “But I’m not sure what you want me to do.”

I remembered that I had hung all 46 pictures that used to be on the wall. I remembered that I do know how to hammer in a nail. I remembered that I have a brain, and I realized all this waiting has turned it to mush and left me feeling unconfident about so many things.

I pounded the nail into the wall, hung the picture and stopped waiting. Today I hauled six big boxes and three big bags of Stuff to the resale shop. I am not hiring someone to have a sale for me; nor am I doing all the work required to have a sale myself. I may send a few select pieces to a consignment shop – the dining room furniture likely would do well where the chandelier is now, at West End Galleries. But I am donating everything else. My tax preparer has explained how this works, and I am comfortable helping others while I help myself get ready to move.

Every day from now on, I am moving something out of the condo, moving something somewhere that others will find it, be able to afford it and enjoy it as much as I did. That is the route I am choosing to take on my way to San Francisco.

I don’t care what my Imaginary Friends think about that. I do hope they like the pumpkin bread.

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