Saturday, September 5, 2009

Peachy Therapy Session at Duff's

“I’m depressed.”

“Me, too.”

“I’m really mad.”

“I’m mad, too.”

“And my feelings are hurt.”

“Yes! My feelings are hurt, too.”

This discussion took place today at Duff’s, where my friend Karen and I discussed our general malaise over not being able to sell our homes. Hers has been on the market since April; mine since May. At first, we both had a reasonable stream of lookers. The stream turned into a trickle and then dried up. Now, the phone rarely rings.

Sitting at the table with us was George, whose home is not for sale. He asked why our feelings are hurt.

“I love my house,” Karen wailed, “and people who come to look at it say mean things about it.”

I nodded in agreement. “Really mean things.”

George asked, “Like what?”

"Some people didn't like my color scheme and some were annoyed that the perfectly good cooktop was old," I said. "So I let Pete come in and paint and I replaced the cooktop."

Karen said, “People look around my house and they say, ‘This is really big – and it needs a lot of work.' I already know that! That’s why I’m trying to sell it.” Karen had hoped to sell her nine-bedroom home “as is.” She sighed. “That’s not working.”

I asked if she has gone through the house to clear out clutter. Karen frowned. “I started to," she said. "I opened one closet and considered what to do with the contents. I really like to iron, and I decided I would rather iron than clean out that closet. I started ironing cloth napkins, and I ironed all of them. When I was finished, I counted them. I had ironed 350 napkins.”

Hey -- you have to do whatever works. “Did you go through anything else?” I asked.

Karen reported that she had opened a kitchen drawer, intent on filling a couple of boxes with extraneous kitchen tools. “I brought home a lot of boxes from work,” she said. “When I was finished in the kitchen, I had four items in the bottom of a great big box. Four. Total.”

We discussed the level of assistance provided by burying statues of St. Joseph. Karen has not tried it. I told her my statue has provided lovely blooms in the big pot of geraniums, but no buyers for the condo.

We discussed how we are smart women, good at being in charge, happiest when we are in control of our circumstances. Then we admitted that being smart isn’t helping, that we are not in charge of whether our places sell – much less when – and we are not in control.

We discussed that acknowledging all that made us even unhappier.

And so we moped, sitting at the table at Duff’s.

George was appropriately sympathetic. He assured both of us that he is the kind of home buyer who prefers “as is” offerings. He expressed indignation that the people who have looked at our properties have failed to recognize just how special our homes are, and have concentrated instead on minor flaws. Of course, George already has a house and is not in the market for another.

Sharing tales of woe at Duff’s was, in retrospect, therapeutic -- and the peach cobbler was delicious.


  1. I sympathize with you guys, and will undoubtedly be in your shoes someday. However, more recently I have been a first time home buyer. That too is tremendously unsettling. What a terrifying leap into massive debt! Let alone the fact that you are trying to find and create a "home" - one that is welcoming, safe, and the center point of future happiness and belonging (lots at stake, or so we think). I remember that picking on 'flaws' felt like what you were supposed to say and do, giving you a sense of control over the situation.

    Hands down, the most appealing homes to us were the ones that we could imagine ourselves living in and making our own. When we encountered houses that were filled with 'character', they were filled with someone else's memories, family life, smells, thoughts, tastes. It was much harder to picture ourselves moving in. It almost felt like you would be intruding on someone else's space, or at the very least, your exciting move would be flavored with a nostalgia that was not your own. Ultimately, I felt better moving into a space that someone had already made their peace with leaving. So I have found myself confirming a social phenomenon I used to view with scorn - beige and white work better than good taste. I think they work because people can write themeselves into them easier. New appliances are enticing because they are another blank slate ready for years of use (and a status symbol).

    Good luck with selling your home! What an emotional roller coaster for everyone.

  2. Pat, I'm a bit timid about stepping into this blog box - I'm a virgin blogger in fact. Before I could take the leap I had to find out what a blog is anyway.
    I love words that are both noun and verb and I learned that blog came from weblog, now that makes sense. I always enjoy your writing, Pat, and especially enjoyed your friendship as we shared our feelings about our homes looking for new owners. Our house is having an open house on Sunday. I was thinking of getting a few shills to walk around making comments like "wow, what a fabulous 2nd floor hallway, such light and space"
    or "look,the pocket doors actually work" or better yet "a fireplace in the bedroom - how romantic" What do you think?? I'll be at Duff's working my favorite brunch shift and thankful that I don't hear what people are really saying. It's weird to expose my private place to strangers. It's lots more fun when my home is filled with friends who are enjoying the space. Let's meet here for lunch sometime soon, Karen