A little less than eight years ago, she who was to become the Emerging Artist and I sold our house and bought the smaller one where we now live. I recorded the process in verse.
4 November 2010:
On selling the family home
Our home for more than twenty years
Our haven, our Three Seventeen,
Where children’s laughter, rage and tears,
And adults’ too, and in between
Have filled the air, where stains and scratches,
Dents and holes, loose threads and patches
Are records of our history
With love’s abiding mystery
Was sold on Tuesday, seven thirty.
Our shell, our outer skin, alive,
We’ll trade for one point five two five.
It’s brick and wood, some bits quite dirty.
We’ll shuffle off to somewhere new:
New owners, may it welcome you.
6 November 2010:
Looking to buy
Flexible, unique and charming,
spacious, stylish, redesigned,
with northern sun, and traffic calming,
details of the classic kind,
potential for downsizers’ retreat
in much sought after treelined street,
we seek it here, we seek it there,
our new home could be anywhere,
in Earlwood, Petersham, St Peters,
Marrickville or Hurlstone Park,
(Burwood’s too far off the mark).
At each new door the agents greet us.
We turn up, armed with cheques, not knives,
Buying, not fighting, for our lives.
26 November 2010:
We’ve bought a house, we sign today,
pay ten percent of far too much
(but we’re in love, so that’s OK).
It’s done up with a loving touch,
it’s near a park and faces north,
near shops, trains, buses and so forth.
We’re downing size, yes, less is more,
from Three One Seven to Thirty-Four.
Bring us garlands, bring us flowers.
Blow the whistle: end of innings.
Sing a song of new beginnings.
Four signatures, the house is ours.
Soon we fly the empty nest.
We’ve found our home for all the rest.
And now we’ve just done it again, this time moving into an apartment about a block away from where we now live. It’s astonishing how those three stanzas describe the process and the feelings that go with it. we exchanged contracts on our present house on 25 September, and bought the apartment at auction on 6 October.
This time it’s serious downsizing. Many books have already found new homes, and many more are yet to do so.
I think we’re all of an age – a desire to clear up – to diminish – if not self then the acquisitions and the carapace which holds them. Though my better half (as described by John BIRMINGHAM – he of the laughter with falafel in hand – dying – not by me) realising that moving on is not really an option for us – in Caves Beach – our mid-50s saw the half-way to downsizing take place – a villa – partway from the house-and-garden to the apartment into which you will soon move – and within which my wife has already shed many of her possessions, casting narrowed eyes over my accumulations despite much ongoing shedding – dust-catchers galore – and what do you need all that for – she challenges. I close the door on the room I have misleadingly labelled my study. Just two weekends back we visited with friends at their daughter & husband’s apartment block in Illawarra Road – underground car park (fits two cars and has lots of storage) inside three levels two bathrooms – a small grassed back yard opening from the kitchen/dining space – Hmm – we murmured to each other – a far cry from our Calvert Street days (the end of the 19th-century long narrow brick place “we did up” prior to moving to Port Stephens in 1986) …as we walked to dine at the recently revamped: “The Corinthian (Rotisserie)” – such nostalgia unleashed – faces aged but still there behind the counter – and the food – as good as we remembered when last there – the night it became famous with the SMH foodie writer with cameras descending – the place almost deserted! We were that table filling the scene! After that – bookings became mandatory! So – good living in the new place, Jonathan. And bravo for taking such a step – to you both!
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Thanks, Jim. You’ve described one of the joys of living in the same place for a long time (even though you were returning for a visit). Last year we had dinner at the Balkan in Oxford Street, and were waited on by the same woman I remember from nearly 50 years ago! Same excellent food too.
Congratulations on the move, I hope you make happy new memories there too.
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Thanks, Lisa. Now w’ve got six weeks of culling ahead of us, but so far no misgivings about the new place.
Goddamit ! – someone who writes doggerel that scans and rhymes ! (albeit in that pattern ..) And I thought I was alone .. 😉
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