Saturday, June 16, 2012

The House is Sold!

It’s mid-June of 2009, and the house has passed its inspection and the deal is closing in 2 short weeks. It was time to get serious about packing up half a lifetime of accumulated stuff.  In theory the transition from house to boat should be fairly straightforward.  You sell, give away or store your stuff and move onto the boat!  What’s the big deal, right? 

The container arrives - HUGE!
The reality [which none of the books on cruising ever talk about] is it’s easily in the top three most STRESSFUL parts of the entire process of getting ready to leave.  Because of that, I decided to keep a journal so I wouldn’t forget what we went through and what an emotional roller coaster it was.  Here are some excerpts from that journal….

We started packing last night as our house closes in just two weeks and there is much to do.  We have to sort through all of our belongings, deciding whether they are destined for the garage sale, long-term storage, short-term storage, or actually going onto the boat.  Every item gets analyzed and packed accordingly.  Imagine working full time and then coming home to a million more decisions every night – ugh!   

It feels crazy all this uncertainty of where we will live and how everything will work out as we are basically packing up our lives.  We can’t move onto the boat as it’s a bit of a disaster from the various projects we’re desperately trying to complete before moving on board.  Mom and Lloyd recently offered us their house for a few weeks while they are out on their boat after our house closes. Thank God we now at least have a place to go!

It's all about staging...
More packing last night – thankfully all that work we did this spring is really paying off.  While I’m happy to be slightly ahead of where I expected to be at this point, the house is in total chaos which is completely depressing.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed thinking how my life will change without a house – it can be hard to keep a positive attitude.  But I know that a large part of that is just fear of the unknown.  And of course there’s the terrible sadness of giving up our wonderful kitty Cosmo.  I am absolutely dreading it – it’s like losing a member of the family.

While I’m excited to pursue our dream of cruising, for some reason today I am feeling completely defeated.  Even though things are tracking well and life keeps moving forward, this whole process has been an emotional roller coaster.  It’s amazing (and silly) how attached we can get to certain things and routines.  But clearly change is stressful – no sidestepping that!  Guess I just need to focus more on the payoff at the end of all this work….

We spent last night moving all of the “garage sale” items into our garage.  I can’t believe how much JUNK we have accumulated over the years!  Why are we such a consumption-based society?  We just buy and buy and buy without much thought to whether we really need the item.  It will be a bit of a relief to live a simpler existence I think….

Look how big those stairs are
next to this full size chair!
What a week it’s been.  Over the weekend we had our huge garage sale, which went really well.  Greg’s family came over and they were a huge help – Greg even volunteered to deliver some of the larger pieces of furniture – what a good brother!  What would we do without family to support us?   That will definitely be the hardest part – leaving family and friends behind.

Both Brett and I are so exhausted at this point that we can hardly think straight – but we have to keep moving forward and just get through the next few days.  We signed the closing papers today and tomorrow we will move everything into the container.  The container seems huge and is truly a sight to see.  It’s still on the truck bed – so it’s almost impossible to access at this point (who knew that would put it 6 feet up???).  Brett is going to build some stairs today so it will be easier to load.  <sigh>  Nothing is ever simple is it?

One of the MANY stage of loading!
Hard to believe it’s been almost two weeks since my last entry.  So much has happened.  That last weekend before we closed on the house was absolute hell.  We worked and worked and worked until we thought we would drop, and then we worked a little more.  It took forever to load the container [AKA the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle].  Everything has to fit together precisely or it will move around too much in transit.  So we would load it, than unload some of it, than reload and add more, then unload some and reload again.  I was absolutely amazed that we filled about 65% of it – I guess we still have a lot of stuff!  I think there were 64 boxes in all, plus all of the furniture and misc. stuff.  Crazy!  I’m sure it will be like Christmas when we get back and unpack it.

It’s so weird to know we’re moving from 1800 square feet to a whopping 245 (yes – I actually ran the numbers – what an idiot!!!).  Yikes!  I will miss our neighbors and will especially miss our cat.  But at least we know Cosmo will be very happy with Beth and Tom and there is just no way we could take him cruising.  He loses half his coat every time we start the engine on the boat and I am mildly allergic to him – especially when he’s in shedding mode.  Not a good combination…

With the house finally empty, we handed over the keys to the (highly eager) new owner, said one last goodbye to Beth, Tom and Cosmo and then drove to the house on Mercer Island.  When we arrived and dragged all the stuff inside (at midnight, completely exhausted), I think we both just wanted to cry.  Looking at all these boxes and knowing there was NO WAY they would fit on the boat was like a huge weight on both of us.  How could we have spent so much time divesting ourselves of our belongings and STILL HAVE SO MUCH FREAKING STUFF???

The only solution is a larger storage unit until we can decide what else we can live without.  At this point, I’m literally ready to just pitch everything.  But Brett is preaching caution – not wanting me to go too crazy and then have to re-buy things.  I’m sure we’ll probably land somewhere in the middle, but for now we are living among the boxes, trying to figure out what to keep.  We’ll be moving to our larger storage area this weekend, which I hope will help in getting organized and make us feel better about this chaos. 

Each night is a little strange and it’s hard to feel any comfort with no set routine.   It’s very hard to live in such a state of complete chaos – especially since the future of living on the boat is also such an unknown.   But I just keep reminding myself that this is just a phase and things will get better.  It’s all a part of the master plan, right???  Just keep moving forward….
Final Stages
So that’s how we felt.  What the books don’t talk about is that our whole life we’re taught that the more you have, the more successful you are, right?  We’re supposed to want the big house, the flat screen TV, the nice car, good food and wine.  Society works hard to teach that lesson and our economy depends on it!  But to reach our goal, we needed to deconstruct a lifetime of that mode of thinking – not an easy task to take in.

Thankfully, if this process has taught me one big lesson, it’s that stuff doesn’t make you happy – people do.  A friend once told Brett, “we are all just renters in life” and I can’t think of a better way to state it.  When we die, all that stuff we worked so hard to buy is just stuff.  In the final hours it will be the places we went, the memories we created and the relationships we had along the way that made our lives richer – not the house we owned or the car we drove.  

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