Thursday, October 1, 2015

October

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.

10 comments:

  1. Hang in there, baby...

    For the reading in the wee hours--Although I love reading an actual book, for the dead of night I like reading books on my phone or e-reader. Less light to disturb the hubby and it turns itself off if I fall asleep (rather than the fall asleep, wake up to turn off light, wide awake again, turn on light, lather rinse repeat). The BPL uses the Overdrive app which means if I finish a book at 2am I can go find another. Current listings have three Barbara Pym novels, one currently available (you can do holds too).

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  2. Greetings from Texas! Newer follower here. I’ve been reading about your dilemma and I can relate to your anxiety about change, and the old vs. new. I’ve been a Texas resident (different cities as well) my entire life – but have been in love with the Boston area since 2008 or so. Since about 2013, I’ve seriously considered relocating but the idea of actually moving gives me extreme anxiety. I make lists, weigh the good and bad, compare weather extremes, pricing extremes, and every other variable until I decide I’m happy (read : settle) in my current location. Then the weather reaches over 90 and I’m back to miserable. (90 degrees just happens to be the normal temp around there). I hope that one day - I will be brave enough to take the leap. I can’t offer any advice, but I hope you find solace soon.

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    1. Greetings, and thank for writing! We had a possibility of moving to Oxford, England, a few years ago. Changing countries was almost too much to think about, although Oxford would be a lovely place to live, so I was also excited. Boston and Texas also seem like different countries to me. So I think you should keep making those pro-and-con lists, and try to prioritize them, so the big pluses and minuses aren't lost among all the smaller ones. If the idea still lingers, I were you, I'd see if there were a way to test the waters: move up here for few months of, say, fall-winter or winter-spring, and take a course and/or house-sit, and see if Boston is right for you. It might get the place out of your system or you may decide to take the leap with facts, not fantasy. Even a month or two might give you some answers. As far as winter... do you like any winter sports? I think skiing, skating, and so on make winter more bearable. Some people even like shoveling! (Don't look at me...) Good luck with your dilemma, and thanks for reading!

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  3. Side note: If you enjoy Barbara Pym, you might want to try Margery Sharp, especially CLUNY BROWN. ENR

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    1. Thank you! I'm going to run out of Pyms soon and was worried about a back-up.

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  4. I've been tipped off to a number of good reads in that vein from:
    http://www.stuckinabook.com/
    I've read "MIss Hargreaves," "Lady into Fox;" "Let's Kill Uncle" via his suggestions - these are darker and more eccentric than Pym, but I really enjoyed them, and would not have known about them otherwise. (And like me, he's a big "British Bake Off" fan).
    Here's his discussion of Pym:
    http://www.stuckinabook.com/?s=Pym&submit=Search

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    1. Thanks for these suggestions. Books are salvation sometimes and good recommendations are, too!

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  5. I think the realtor's advice is right on the money. It's always wrenching to move, and every place has issues. The challenge is to make it yours. The second-hand smoke may even be something you could work out with the smoke-ee.

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  6. I just moved to Paris, and am renting a place from 1910 with squeaky parquet floors and lovely leaking skylights (it rained today, outside and in). But it's Paris. I will deal with it. Somehow the things that would be deal-breakers in the US are okay here. And if not, a crepe nutella makes things better.
    The biggest reason for you to not move is that the cats will be uprooted only to have to move again--that is extreme stress on them. You are doing the right thing staying put for now!

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    1. I envy you a Paris apartment with a parquet floor: squeaks, leaks, and all. It's true that there are few annoyances that a crèpe Nutella cannot improve. Or a pistachio or burnt-sugar eclair, or a scoop of Berthillon abricot in a cone.... Thank you for writing and taking the side of the cats. Some of them will be traumatized by moving, for sure. It has to be a place where we can all be happy to make it worth their trouble. And I'm afraid this isn't it.

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I love getting comments and do my best to follow up if you have a question. I delete spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please do leave a comment that isn't spam, etc.