The suspended time of house selling

Selling a house must be like a cop working a beat: Long stretches of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you haven’t had a house showing in two weeks. You’ve gotten a little sloppy. You know how it goes: I can take out the garbage tomorrow. I’ll pick up my Sunday paper later. I’ll clean up the kitchen after my nap.

It’s Sunday afternoon, right? Perfect time for a nap. Just as you’re drifting off to la-la land, the phone rings. Huh, unfamiliar number. Who could this be?

You want to see the house? Right now? By now you mean … now? Sure, sure, we’d love for you to see the house. But could you give us 20 minutes?

You launch yourself off the couch and survey the disaster you’ve permitted to accumulate on every flat surface from the basement bar to the floor of the second-floor spare bedroom. Thank God for adrenaline. If ever there was a time for action, now is it.

The time between the day you put your house on the market and day you meet with the buyers in a cramped, windowless room at the mortgage company to sign the final papers is what Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich might call “suspended time.” She was waxing poetic today about the time between the Cubs’ World Series win and election day, but my suspended time has me sitting in a mostly orderly house I no longer love waiting for the day I can make plans for the next place, which I hold in dreamy esteem.

There’s nothing left to pack (until we can pack every last pair of underwear, every single steak knife and the 15 kinds of pasta I simply couldn’t consume in my last weeks here). There’s no point in decorating anything (since I don’t want to spend even one more dollar on this place). I could clean, say, the refrigerator (except I hate cleaning — and what home shopper looks in the refrigerator?).

On the other hand, I can barely create holiday plans or make reservations or schedule a vacation because we don’t know when we’ll be able to dot the last I and cross the final T.

I am simply waiting.

Oh, sure, I’m filling my time with a lot of cooking, blogging, monitoring election coverage (blech!) and an occasional nap. But it’s difficult to classify any of it as productive or interesting. Necessary, yes, like treading water is necessary when you’re in over your head, but hardly newsworthy.

Suspended time. It’s like suspended animation. You’re alive but asleep. No one goes in. No one goes out. No deliveries. (Sorry, I lapsed into a line from 1989’s The ‘Burbs.)

Part of me Just. Wants. To. Move. On.

And part of me thinks I should take a nap while I can.

So my Beloved and I picked up the clutter in our house in 20 minutes flat. Actually, it was 24 minutes; I waved at the interested buyers as they exited their vehicle and I tore out the driveway with my barky dog in tow.

Twenty minutes later, my Beloved summoned me back.



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