Leaving the Nest

The papers for the sale of my father’s house will be signed next Wednesday. The buyers came for one last walk-through yesterday, and as I sat outside on the small wall separating this property from the neighbor’s, I marveled at how little time these people had spent inside the house. Twenty minutes the first time they came to look. Ten minutes today. I suppose with all the information and photos posted online, it doesn’t take more than that to decide you like a house, but it seemed so little. I mean, I spend more time test walking a new pair of hiking shoes before I decide to buy.

But I have heard that buying a house is an emotional experience, not necessarily a logical one, and besides, there are appraisers and inspectors for the more practical side.

bowl of lightsThey still like the house and still intend to buy it, so there will be no last minute reprieve for me. Just as well. It’s time for me to leave the nest. Literally, the nest. I built a small nest of pillows and comforters in one corner of one room, and that’s where I’m staying. The rest of the house is empty.

It’s nice and nicely symbolic to have these few days in the empty house. No furniture, no clutter, not even many necessities except for my nest, a few personal items, and my computer. And my bowls of light. (Hey! I bet that’s why the house sold so fast! The magic of light!)

When the couple and the realtor finished visiting the house, I gave the new owner a small gift, hugged her and wished her much happiness in this house. That hug, too, was symbolic. A passing of the torch. And a more binding contract than the one they will sign next week.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Sitting on the Wall

It’s hard to get anything done when I’ve spent half the day outside sitting on the wall separating my dad’s property from the one next door so that people looking at the house can have privacy, but luckily, I don’t need to get anything done. I can simply sit and enjoy the blossoms dancing in the warm winter air. (80 degrees today. And it’s still technically winter!)

It’s funny that I dreaded this period in my life when the house was on the market making my time not my own, when homelessness (or rather rootlessness) was incipient, when things were about to change in some as yet unfathomable way. But none of this is bothering me at all. In fact, other people are more concerned about what I am going to do than I am.

Either things will work out or they won’t. It’s as simple as that. And if they don’t work out, there is nothing I can do now to make them work out because I don’t know what the conditions will be at that particular time, so there’s no point in worrying about it.

My situation is apparently one that galvanizes imaginations. Each person’s suggestion for what I should do is more a response to their own yearnings and inclinations than to my needs. Buying an RV and living in an RV park was one of today’s suggestions. The woman admitted it is what she would do and thought it was a good idea for me. And yet, if I did get an RV, why would I stay in one place? The whole point of a recreation vehicle is to go recreationing.

But there are dance classes to take into consideration  . . .

I have offers of spare rooms and couches for a few days that I can accept in an emergency. Or I could stay in a motel. Or take off on a road trip. Or any number of things.

People keep telling me I have to make a decision, if not now then soon, and I just shrug off that dictum. Again, this advice is more of a response to their fearful imaginings than my reality. I don’t have to make a decision. I can simply do whatever is I feel like doing when the time comes. Knowing me, I’ll probably cry. Grief seems to rise up during times of change, because I am reminded of why I am so rootless, but even that is okay.

But for now I am enjoying sitting on the wall and letting the future take care of itself.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Reality of the Realty Situation

People find it appalling when I tell them the realtor asked me to leave the house when someone comes to look, but oddly, it doesn’t bother me. As a writer, I understand perfectly.

In the literary world, there is a thing called the “fictive dream.”

heavenFrom a writer’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the writer forgets the words s/he is writing and instead sees the characters as alive and moving about his/her mind as if in a dream. The more the writer works on the story, sharpening the words and images, the vision becomes “more lucid until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”– John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

From a reader’s standpoint, the fictive dream is when the reader is drawn into the story, so much so that the outside world fades from mind, and they are living the story like in a dream.

A skilled writer knows how to pull readers into the story. Unskilled writers often use various tactics that draw attention to themselves, and those self-aggrandizing elements destroy the fictive dream and catapult reader out of the story.

(I know the fictive dream more from a reader’s POV since I was a reader long before I was a writer, and I often let myself be pulled into the story. I know how to write to keep the dream going, but I have never experienced the writer’s fictive dream. Writing for me is more of a slog than a dream — I have to pull the story out of the slushpile I call my mind, one word at a time.)

In the real estate world, there is something called the buyer’s dream (and if there isn’t, there should be). Would-be buyers need to imagine themselves in the house, want to dream of their new life in the house they are looking at. If they can imagine it, they will be more inclined to buy. The presence (or near presence) of the person currently living in the house pulls lookers out of the dream, breaking their connection with the house and the real estate agent. This might not be fatal, of course, but it does make sense that buyers need to bond with both the house and agent, and the presence of anyone else breaks that bond.

So far, only one person came to look at the house when I was here. (The rest of the time, I’ve been gone.) With nothing else to do, I sat on the small wall dividing this property from the next, and basked. Scents of new blossoms drifted to me on quickening air currents, as did the sounds of birds singing in the warm sun.

I don’t often have an excuse to just sit and feel my connection to the world, and lately, I haven’t been creating the excuse.

I’d been dreading this particular phase in my life, having to live pristinely with everything packed out of sight and being at the mercy of lookers and realtors, but it seems as if the reality of the realty situation will have its merits.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Realtor Time

I’ve spent the whole morning getting my father’s house ready for realtors to look at in preparation for putting the house on the market, and now I’m between realtor appointments.

The first realtor said he liked the house, but he might have been backpeddling. While looking the place over, he kept finding faults — the mantle over the fireplace would be a drawback for the younger crowd, the pillars that defined the greatroom were a mistake, the living room floor should have been tile to match the entryway and kitchen, the house was too plain to get the big bucks.

I found myself bristling at his words, as if he were insulting me, which was sort of strange. This is not a house I chose, and I had nothing to do with the design “flaws” the realtor took exception to — I just sort of landed here by accident. I got a grip on myself, or rather a grin on myself, since my reaction was rather humorous.

When he left, he said I was a nice lady, not high maintenance, and it would be a pleasure to work with me, but really, what else could he say, that he dreaded meeting me again? (And anyway, it’s the truth. I am a nice lady and I’m not high-maintenance.)

The next realtor will show up in a few minutes.

This is just the beginning. Strangers will be traipsing through the house, and I will have to live in unclutter, putting away projects each night to make sure the house is presentable in case of a showing, and eventually, someone will fall in love with the house, and it will be sold. And then . . .

My thoughts of the future always end with ellipses since I haven’t a clue where to go from here, but I’m okay with that. Finishing packing my stuff and dealing with realtors and potential buyers is enough to think about for now.

This is a big step for me, learning not to project myself too far into the future, and so far it’s working. I’m much more at peace with myself and the world than I have been for a long time. Now if I can just stop overthinking everything, I’ll be on my way to . . .

Yep. Those dang ellipses again.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.