Happy October, everyone! It's usually my favorite month although right now I can't wait for it to be over. Still, I'm doing my best to enjoy the pleasantly cool, cloudy weather, which I've been waiting for since about May. It felt good to put on jeans and my old motorcycle boots this morning, and to dig out a cardigan, jacket, and scarf. I've lost a few pounds from all the real-estate angst, so the jeans fit more comfortably than they did last spring.
My anxiety waxes and wanes, and always returns with a vengeance sometime between 2 and 4 am. I wake in a panic as reality hits again: "What have we done?" I worry in the dark until I can't stand it anymore, turn on the light and disturb my poor husband, and try to distract myself with a book.
All day long, we are gathering information and talking over the choices. We're talking to agents, friends, bankers, and contractors as we try to figure out what to do with both apartments.
An agent we met with today recommended that we sell them both. Right now. We'd lose maybe six figures on the new one, he thought, but we'd make a decent amount on the old one. "And then would we move into a van down by the river?" I asked. (If you've been following our house-hunting saga, you know it took us six years to successfully buy a place we now don't want!)
The agent said we should use all the proceeds to buy this cool place he'd soon be listing — a totally modern, recently renovated penthouse, which will cost at least a half-million dollars more than we paid for our current, exorbitant penthouse. When we stopped snorting, we brought him down to earth and explained that we want much less condo and expense in future. And reminded him that we vastly prefer old-fashioned places with the high-ceilinged, Victorian detail that penthouses sadly lack. (What were we thinking?)
Then I asked him, "If you were us, what would you do?" He thought, and his answer was honest: "I'd move in and make the best of it. I'd move past the fear of everything you feel is wrong with it. I'd make small improvements to make it livable. And if I still wasn't happy living there, I'd put it on the market in the spring, or in a year. And hope to break even or do better then. I'd look at it as an investment, and another step along the way to the right place."
Move past the fear. I know what he meant, but I have too much of it. Fear (and remorse) dominate my life now. I hate it. But I can't see our situation from any other perspective. It never changes for me, although I have heard many other points of view. I'm not brave enough to deal everything that comes along with the place: the possible/likely secondhand smoke, the expense, the inability to renovate it enough for our comfort. My husband is willing to give it a try, but I can't get back to my optimistic frame of mind of a month ago, when I thought living there was a great idea. The blinders are off. I can't put 'em on again. I know too much.
In the meantime, the rooms are being painted in matte, off-white shades, a great improvement over shiny purplish-gray. We had picked out real colors for a few rooms, but when our thoughts turned to selling, we had to play it safe. My husband sees the fresh paint and likes it. I just hope it helps us sell.
We will probably list it next week and see how things go. If no one makes a reasonable offer in a week or two, we'll probably move in and list our old place. I will be sad and sorry. But we can't hold on to both places for much longer. We need the equity in the old place to help pay for the new one. We can't rent it.
Change is good. Right?
The odd thing about the new place is that it offers almost too much flexibility in its room arrangements. There are three rooms that could function more-or-less as our bedroom. There's the real one, which is so narrow I'd have to inch sideways to get around our bed. The other options are the two living rooms. Either one could have a door added at no huge expense and become a much nicer bedroom with a fireplace and two sunny windows. And people are telling us to turn the foyer into a little dining room, and the skinny bedroom into a dressing room or TV room... The mind boggles; I have never been able to figure out where any of our furniture belongs in the new place because we've never settled on which room should be used for what. And then my thoughts turn to multiple monthly mortgage payments, assessments, taxes, and secondhand smoke.
Oh, there's that familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach again. Time to get back to my seventh Barbara Pym novel in a row. They are the literary equivalent of tranquilizers and the only medicine I will take to alleviate the stress. They are always set in London, Oxford, or a charming English village in the 1940s to '70s. The plots revolve about church ladies, vicars, curates, and spinsters, plus an occasional anthropologist. Nothing much happens from beginning to end. I love that. I can't wait until my life is like that again.