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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

For Sale

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
What you donít want to hear from your real estate agent are the following words, "Well, realistically?" What follows will never be good. Realistically? Your house is a dump and you couldnít give it away. Realistically? The mural of the Sack of Rome in the boysí room is not a big selling point. Realistically? The tiny hand prints on the walls which you have carefully preserved since 1995 because they are so adorable are not really. That adorable.

Realistically? The first thing the New People are going to do is paint over your childrenís growth chart and make their own. Realistically? They will not see the 1937 Deco light fixtures as Americana, as a whisper from the past, as beautiful. They will want new brass and acrylic ones. Realistically? They probably wonít even bother to sell the neat old ones, but are more likely just to chuck them.

Realistically? The New People will not know or care about the beautiful spring morning when Mike sprinkled flour on the ground in the shape of what was once a very fine koi pond and is now a very large vat of algae. With huge fat koi for a splash of color against the green. When The New People look at the pond they are likely to see a hazard to the safety and well-being of their little children. Except that, realistically? The real estate agent says that our house will probably be bought by a single professional person Ė as opposed to a professional single person, which would be a little different Ė or perhaps a professional couple. Meaning, of course a couple of people who are professional in their professions. He says that they will have "some longevity in their profession." He clarifies, "three to five years." Making what Michael and I have at our jobs qualify as eternity. So, that was gratifying, knowing that it was eternity and didnít just feel like eternity.

Back to my point, I wonder what a single person or even a couple without children might want with this house. The room our daughters grew up in is perfect for two little girls. There is room for two beds, two desks, a big dresser and a small one with plenty of space left over to play Barbies or have a tea party with their friends. The windows catch the afternoon sun in a way that seems designed specifically to make halos of light around pretty little girls who have very few worries and no big worries at all.

The boys room has a very funny L shaped closet which makes absolutely the most perfect robbersí hideout, foxhole, spaceship, cave full of treasure, or more recently a place to hide an amateur attempt at mead brewing from your (not quite as stupid as you think they are) mother and father. What would a single person or a couple do with that funny little secret space? Store mattresses? Humph!

The New People will very likely sand the few remaining stains of yellow paint off the dining room floor and they will not know that there was a day when 10 cubscouts and four mommies spent a thundery afternoon painting birdhouses blue and yellow. They will not know that it was that same day Jim cried in front of all the other boys and we never knew why, but have worried about it off and on ever since.

That Professional Couple will not know that in this dining room we had a champagne breakfast on my brotherís wedding day, that we had a whole room full of girls doing each otherís hair and make-up for prom and that I watched my tough-guy husband take off one girlís nail polish with acetone from the garage to avert a Nail Polish Crisis. They will not be able to even imagine the intent and very sweet expression on his face as he did it.

They will not think about all the turkeys that have been roasted in my kitchen, the number of locust shells lovingly placed on a shelf by grubby little hands, the millions of dandelions I have had in vases. They will not care about the hugs and the kisses, the loud music, the laughter, the tears, the shouting, the silence after news we could not bear to hear.

They will have their own noise and their own silences. They will progress from saying, "the new house," to "our new house," to "home," to "Home" just as we did. And realistically? Itís time for that to happen. I guess itís time.

Hereís one last thing you might be interested to know. Realistically? Weíre finally getting new siding.


© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
June 15, 2007 Column
Bi-weekly


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