I don’t know how to sell a house. I don’t know the first thing about selling houses, except that the process involves lawyers and inspectors and banks, and scary questions about mold and termites and squirrels in the attic. That’s why I just keep repeating “as is, strictly as is” and hope that someone will hand me a giant check and we’ll be done with it.

Since this hasn’t happened yet, I broke down and hired a realtor this week. I have a few friends who are realtors, but I value our friendships too much to ask them to sell the house I grew up in.

I am not going to be an easy client.

I’m already familiar with the squinchy little thing my new realtor does with her mouth when she’s wondering exactly how to humor me and get me out of the way so she can do her job.

Realtors have to tell you hard truths. They have to answer questions like, “What happens if they cut down Mom’s magnolia tree?” Answer: not your business. “But I want to make sure they keep the red oak flooring.” Not your business. Realtors have to tell you that it’s your memories that are worth a million bucks, not your house.

Photo from Public Domain

Photo from Public Domain

Today I showed the house to a young couple who might want to buy it. I told them that I have a picture of me and my two best friends standing right there on that step, all dressed up for our first day of kindergarten; and here’s where my Dad always hung stockings on the mantle; and my mother planted that magnolia tree fifty-five years ago and you should see it in full bloom, it’s stunning. And also did you know it’s good luck to have a lilac bush by the front door, even if it is an aging, scraggly one?

I couldn’t stop blathering. I was starting to sound like a pathetic crazy old lady, I thought, but at least I didn’t scream at them, “Please, please don’t change anything! Please don’t even touch a thing! Just go away!”

I keep telling myself that once my Mom’s house is sold, I’ll have money for travel and for fixing up my own house and garden. But of course what I really want is for my Mom and my brother to still be alive and living happily by the magnolia tree.

Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t know how to do. Things I never thought I could do. Things I wish I didn’t have to do. There’s an ancient Middle Eastern proverb that has kept me afloat, and I’m clinging to it once again:

This too shall pass.

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