Sunday, July 10, 2005

Spying games

I come back home and inspected the premises. Ah! They had spent some time in the master bedroom! A short pause in the living room, a peak at the other rooms. Good sign – they’d ventured down to the rec room.

I remember this kind of detective work twenty years ago when we were selling our little condo. [Oh yes, being city people, we thought nothing of making our first home purchase be a condo, even when there were only maybe two condo projects in all of Madison and everyone was so suspicious of that form of home ownership that we absolutely could not sell it when the time came to move. In the end my close friend from Law School bought it, I swear because I was bursting with babies and she felt sorry for me. It was a very small condo – smaller than the apartment I’m moving into next month.]

It’s the same now as we proceed with the sale of the house: I vacuum all carpeted surfaces and scoot out. Then I come back and study the footprints. Crazy, I know. Sort of on the same level as biking around the block and staring at the people who have come to look – evaluating them as potential buyers. Hmmm… they have a baby. That’s good, a baby should grow in this house – make it her home. A minivan rather than an SUV. Good, good. Why aren’t they saying anything about the beautiful flowers outside? Did they notice all my signs about this being a pesticide-free lawn? Have they kicked the Chemlawn habit?

What am I saying, they just came and looked. There’s no UHaul outside the door yet. They just looked. I’m still safe here. This place is still under my stewardship.


I’ve been thinking a lot about them lately (mine are grown, living a thousand miles away).
On my long drive to the farm this morning, I was listening to NPR and they chose to play Edvard Elgar. Wow. My daughters played strings in the symphony orchestra not so long ago. The little one would sing Elgar with me in the car, I remember that.

Daughters. I did many shameful things in my life, but in terms of direct impact, one of the more shameful was that I found a daughter-journal and one day, I read an entry. I wish I had not, but I did. And then it tortured me. And I could not let it go. And finally I told her – right in the midst of her college tour! In the Admissions office of Amherst, I was admitting to her that I had snooped! And she forgave me.

Daughters. My other little one. You have never seen anyone dance like her. No, I mean it. For verification purposes, let me brag: she was Clara in the Civic Center’s annual production of the Nutcracker. Man, that girl danced! And then one day she did not. Because dancing is an all or nothing thing. You dance, or you do other things. She made that decision when she was a wee 13, being arguably Madison’s best of the best dancers then, to let it go. So that she could do other things.

Someone wrote in the most dunce-ish of emails received by me in the last month that children turn on you if you don’t be careful.

I know nothing of this.

My house is full of markers of how they grew up. As I get ready to let it go, I have to remind myself every minute of each day: it’s only a house. It’s only a house.