“Are the cats locked up?” I asked Max.
“Yes, but let me go check again,” he said.
“Put the collars on the dogs,” I told Baylee. I heard the jingle of their name tags as he grabbed them off the hook on the wall, the click of the plastic collar clasps, and the dancing tick tick tick of the dogs’ nails on the floor in the front room as they anticipated our ride.
I went down to the basement to open the utility room doors and make sure the outside door was closed. I blew out the apple candle, watched the blackish smoke dance its way to the wood ceiling, and added a few large logs to the wood stove. I walked to the basement stairs and looked around one last time to be sure it was satisfactory for a showing.
The stairs creaked under me as I went up to evaluate the rest of the house, and the basement door sang its 1873 tune as I closed it.
“Can you please start the truck, Sam!?” I yelled.
“Yeah!” he yelled back, then I heard his footsteps come down the library stairs to my left. He grabbed the keys, put on his coat, then went to get the family’s red Chevy Silverado that was parked next to the barn. He pulled up to the front door.
The dogs became excited because their collars were on, and they were used to the drill. Sam came back in the house and all three boys took the pooches to the truck so I could do one last sweep of the house. We had been cleaning for hours and hours on a Saturday morning, didn’t cook with onions, and even missed our showers. We really wanted to move back to North Carolina, our home and where Tyler still lived, and we hoped all our hard work would pay off.
The house was suddenly eerily quiet as I walked around its emptiness. I turned on the ceramic owl scent warmers that plugged into the wall. One had brown sugar melts and the other had one called “Christmas Cheer.” It was red. I then walked up the wooden stairs that were in the living room and was in awe at how warm and homey the house felt. I opened my door to check my room and to make sure Salad, my cat, was still in there, then checked Baylee’s room which was next door to mine.
I walked through the sitting room which was in the middle of the upstairs, checked the bathroom and Sam and Max’s rooms, then I went down the library stairs glanced at desks and books for order, turned on the light in the bathroom, then went through the kitchen to exit the house. When I opened the door, the cold air smacked me in the face so I trotted to the truck, icy snow crunching loudly under my boots, got in and was welcomed by a sniff from each pup who was in the back seat.
“Everyone buckled?” I asked.
“We’re all good,” They said, so we took off to Conant Park in town so we could sit and wait until we got the text that it was all clear to go back home.
The first hour was always fun. We would get the sillies and would play games like sudoku and share funny videos with each other. We would eat junk food like Munchos and root beer, but after some time, the truck became quieter as we just wanted to go back home.
After two hours, I texted our realtor. Are we good to go back home yet?
Oh, I forgot to tell you they cancelled.
I didn’t want to tell the boys we did all that for nothing (again) so I said the house was ready and we made our way back to our warm, clean home.
Sometimes people actually did show up and said they weren’t interested, but still felt compelled to look through our closets and showers. Others would set up appointments simply to look even though they were not in the market to buy. We also had people come with their inspectors and stay for four hours or so. There were social media messages from strangers, people who would drive by and hold up traffic, and our personal favorite, the people who would park in our driveway, get out, and take photos of us and our house that was for sale. It was madness and we felt utterly exposed.
Showing a house sucks! It’s especially bad when there are no degrees outside, and the pandemic was in full swing. We had to take the dogs with us which cramped our ride, and the entire time we worried that the strangers would let a cat out of the bedroom (again) or worse, the house, so they will become coyote food.
When we got back home, we took inventory on the cats and chickens, and ensured all the doors were latched. I put more wood into the stove, turned on the music, and made a stiff Big Y lime seltzer and Absolut to bring me back down. Within the first two minutes, all of us had on our pajama bottoms and hoodies and locked our doors while the pups sniffed sniffed sniffed all the rooms.
I will always miss that house and property but am so happy to be home in North Carolina. We endured showings during the height of the housing market craze, but we were under contract before that happened. So we were pre-craze sellers and during-craze buyers. Our time in Massachusetts was so over for many reasons, including issues with the town, and we wanted to be together as a family.
I lost sleep and didn’t know what I would do. I was finishing college and had no job, so a mortgage was out of the question. Equity pre- versus post-housing craze did not add up. I looked into campers on land in NC to hold us over until I started working, but there are laws about that, too. My insides were torn up with despair and I just knew there was no way we would go home to North Carolina.
It was almost time to give up and endure more time in a town we didn’t want to live in, away from my first-born, then, out of the most glorious clouds, the angels came to me, held my hand, and said, “Everything is going to be ok.”