Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soup's On

You know how you reach for the can of Progresso Minestrone at the grocery but when you get home, you discover you picked up the Progresso Creamy Clam Chowder instead – and you don’t do dairy?

The last two weeks, I’ve been reaching for optimism, anticipation and the exhilaration that initially fueled my decision to sell the condo and move to San Francisco, but I keep coming up with frustration.

As soon as I caved and spent money updating the place, as soon as I lowered the price, all calls from real estate agents stopped, and I found myself sitting alone in my undecorated, uncolorful, completely uninteresting home. Oh, I still made the bed every morning, dried out the sink after running the faucet and picked up scattered cat toys. (At least someone is having fun here!) But it was lonely.

I also continued my research, talking to friends who have been through this process and to friends of friends eager to make suggestions about how to lure in customers. “Consider painting the kitchen cabinets,” said one woman, unaware that a month ago I paid to have the cabinets painted. Put in a high-end electric fireplace, suggested another.

One friend wanted me to buy a small table to place beside the rocker, to hold books and a wine glass. I explained I had just gotten rid of two small tables, and was not in the mood to buy another. “People like a place that looks spacious,” said one man. I donated the big couch and arranged to send the dining room furniture to a consignment shop. Hearing that, another friend opined that it’s easier to sell a place with furniture in it.

Finally, I have figured out that everyone has an opinion, a thought, a point of view – that there is no one way to get this done. Everyone also has a favorite realtor, a person who would know exactly how to help me. As it happens, I have a realtor who has been helping me a great deal, a realtor who laughed and nodded in agreement when I said, “This is all a crap shoot, right?”

Of course, knowing that and dealing with it are two different things.

As I told friends a few weeks ago, I am annoyed that I have not sold the condo but I am even more annoyed that I am annoyed, because this is not on any scale a tragedy. I just finished reading Dave Eggers’ “What Is the What.” Valentino Achak Deng and his people have suffered innumerable tragedies, endured great suffering and been treated unconscionably again and again in several countries, including this one. His response has been to build a school in his native Sudan.

Me -- I’m just annoyed, impatient, crabby.

This morning I watched two young men remove my dining room furniture from my home. To my mind, I had all the wrong reactions, a flood of feelings that pleased me as little as Creamy Clam Chowder. As I remembered many a wonderful dinner around that table, I felt sad. As I admired the unusual china cabinet one last time, I felt nostalgic. As I viewed the last of the chairs being carried out the door, I started to miss the beautiful fabric on each one.

When the young men were out of earshot, I yelled at myself. “Stop being so stupid!” I said aloud. Hey, I believe in emotional honesty. Feelings deserve to be felt, acknowledged and felt even more deeply, if needed. However, I detected a false note in my sentimental feelings for the dining room set.

First, I picked out a fabulous animal print fabric for those chairs – your basic black-on-brown cheetah print – and the upholsterer put the fabric on backward. The chairs came home looking quite distinctive – gold-on-black splatters – and I was devastated. My friend Edward told me he thought they were unique and quite beautiful, and that I should live with them a while. I did, and they stayed, but they were never exactly what I had in mind.

Second, the china cabinet is unusual – it looks like an old Philco Radio – but I bought the whole set about 36 years ago from a woman in University City who was moving to a condo in Florida. No emotional tug is required as we part, as this set was a purchase, not a precious heirloom in the family for generations.

Third, I know this table has to go so I can move to San Francisco and buy another table, something smaller, and then welcome family and friends to join me for wonderful dinners. You can’t move on successfully if you are dragging along everything from your past.

As I sorted out each emotion, I realized that I was operating with all the wrong feelings, allowing inappropriate reactions to color my view of the circumstances. By the time the last piece of furniture was loaded in the truck, I had successfully adjusted my state of mind. I actually started humming, happy again that I am trying to invent myself anew. I may even be willing to practice patience once again.

Just then the cell phone rang. An agent was calling, and she wants to show the condo this evening. Bring on the Minestrone!

1 comment: