After I finish drinking my coffee, I’m going to drive to the escrow office and pick up my check.
We sold our house. Our big, drafty, fabulous, kooky craftsman house. We sold it quickly, to a nice young couple with a baby. I hope the couple will stay together, and have more kids, who will swing on the porch swing, squeal as they run up and down the stairs, scurrying into nooks and crannies during hide-and-go-seek.
I hope guests will fill the living room and dining room, spilling out onto the mahogany deck during parties, sipping wine under the twinkle lights long after the sun has gone down.
I hope the family will get around to the home improvements that were on my wish list: replacing the stained and leaded glass that had been lifted by former owners; putting in new hardwood in the upstairs landing; remodeling the kids’ bathroom to period, retiling, and adding a clawfoot tub.
I’m not sure when I’m going to break the news to Franny, that the house is actually sold. She fought back tears when we told her we were moving, and renting it out. She loved the house. She loved her enormous bedroom with the casement windows, walk-in closet and black chandelier. She loved sitting on the porch swing, eating ice cream she’d bought from the ice cream vendor.
The house figured prominently in Franny’s life plan. She was going to live in it with her husband — a lawyer, “who will make a lot of money so we can add on an extra room if we want” — and daughter — “I only want one kid so there’s no fighting.” The house is just ten minutes from our favorite shopping stomping grounds, an elegant little pocket of stores and businesses, including the animal hospital, where Franny intends to be a vet one day.
The house had become an albatross to me, a symbol of a creaky, disintegrating marriage, along with a never-ending internal refrain of what-if-the-roof-collapses-foundation-crumbles-heater-blows-up?
I am so relieved to live in a townhouse one-third the size, small enough to keep clean, a house full of things that someone else has to pay to fix.
But I feel sad for Franny. Our old house was a source of stability for her, a Rockwellian cocoon buffering her from warring parents and a raging brother. I wanted to make her fantasy come true. I wanted to pass the house on to her and her lawyer-husband and well-behaved only child. So I feel sad I couldn’t give her what she wanted.
But Franny is resilient. And industrious. She could grow up to buy her own craftsman house one day.
Or, if she has any sense at all, some zen-modern thing with new construction and solar panels.