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Sunday, August 12, 2012


Last week was our anniversary; Samantha and I have been living in Austin for eight years.  We agree that, for the most part, as we will always be English, England will be our first love, our home, but we have definitely become 'Texanised'.  The greatest thing about living in Austin is that everyone else is very laid back, and all the stressful things in life are handled that little bit differently.  However, stress and her relatives have definitely been to visit, and have now overstayed their welcome!   With four weeks to go until I return for Richard's wedding, I do have a dress.  It doesn't actually fit, but that is also in hand!  The task of looking for a hat and accessories is minimal in comparison, and as I am not the mother of the bride, my duties have been minimised, and the big issues, such as finding the venue, sending out invitations, etc, etc, etc., have landed on Steph and her mum.  Dana's job, he tells me, is to help decrease my stress, levels, and it was rather surprising, therefore, when he announced the contribution he had made in this area.  'We have a realtor coming to look at the house on Sunday', was not really something that I would consider to be a valuable offer. 

As mentioned, over and over, Saturday is my housework day. This is the day when I clean.  This is not necessarily the day when I 'clear'.  The parts of the house where we live, e.g., the bedroom, kitchen and living areas, and of course, the bathrooms, are pristine. the parts where we don't live, for example, the spare room, is clean, but rather cluttered.  With my impending visit home, it has suitcases and M and M's scattered across the bed (fortunately the latter are still in their packets).  This is also the room where I do my ironing, so I have laundry accessories placed strategically around.  It is, in short, organised chaos.  Attempting to put everything in the cupboard would have been a solution, but having to remove everything afterwards, would take forever.  

The other spare room, which was once inhabited by my not so tidy daughter, and still contains most of her belongings (which have not spilled out into the previously mentioned spare room) is a disaster area!  We had spent an entire Saturday boxing and bagging her life into some sort of pile, but since then she has decided that she has needed something out of each and every container.  I have dared to enter the room out of necessity, but almost had to revive Dana when he thought he could 'find' something, and made the big mistake of opening the door. 
The headache started Saturday evening, after having a very unsuccessful head wear shopping day. By midnight my head was pounding and the pills were popping at 6am.  Fortunately, I was not laid flat on my back, curtains drawn, with dark patches over my eyes when the realtor arrived.  I chose to sit at the kitchen table while Dana gave her the grand tour.  Listening from my chair, I heard the conventional, 'ah ha's' and 'hm hm's'.  No one heard her scream as Dana opened the door to the cave.  It was very subtle, but the slight elevation in her non-descript acknowledgement of another room, gave away the astonishment.  Although Dana did not hear it, the silent shriek of, 'How can you expect to sell a house looking like this, let alone live in it!', was very loud and clear to me.  Lying flat in a dark room was looking more and more imminent.

Fortunately, our lady was nothing if not professional, and emotionally limped down the stairs, presumably wondering how to say something without causing offense.  The statutory requirements and seller's responsibilities were laid before us like a cryptic crossword puzzle.  I looked at Dana, and was happy to see that he was nodding in agreement, and appeared to be unaffected by the whole episode.  I tried very hard to look as if I knew what she was talking about, but gave up during the third page of conditions.  Although I have become familiar with most of the language spoken here, there are times when a new word or phrase is thrown my way, and I am suddenly unbalanced.  Of course, this morning was not a good time to learn of new things. 
After a while, the formalities were completed, and we came down to the 'nitty gritty'.  Smiling, very graciously, the unfortunate lady tried as carefully as possible, to point out some of the pitfalls when selling a property.  Clearing her throat, she started, 'It is always easier to see a property, without......'.  She looked at me, attempting to judge if I was going to agree or simply throw her out of my home, and almost choked, '......clutter'.  The sigh of relief was almost as loud as the initial scream when I said, 'I understand'.  However, the disaster area that is now known as 'the former bedroom of Samantha', was not necessarily the problem.  That was purely mess!  It was the rest of the house that needed attention.  The adrenaline was now pumping through my body and my temples felt as if they were about to explode.  Was someone daring to challenge my housekeeping skills!  I had never considered that I had 'clutter' on my walls!  My pictures and object d'art would have to go, along with collection of mugs, cups and ornaments. Having agreed that all must be packed away, except perhaps a few selective items, I decided that it was time to barter.  'My floor is clean, and I dust all my ornaments with a vengeance.   Perhaps if I just keep a few little nick-knacks around, just to make the place look homely?'  No!  'When I go into a house, I don't feel it is inviting if there are no photographs'.  No!  'My little teapot is ever so cute.'  No!  'The books..........'.  No! 'Perhaps a few.......'.  No! Non! Nein! Na! Nej! Nay!  I got the message. 

Still smiling, and with far more patience than I could ever possess, our prospective realtor continued.  I succumbed to defeat and let her continue.  The suggestion that we could have everything ready for viewing in two weeks sent me running for cover.  I am not sure if it is a 'woman' thing, a 'menopausal' thing or purely a 'Tracie' thing, but if I have something happening in my life, an event that is due to take place, for example, a wedding in four weeks, there are no days in between now and then.  I could not possibly find anytime to pack away everything that needed to be deleted from my life.  I suddenly felt exhausted.  I looked from the realtor to Dana and back again, several times.  Although I did not make a sound, my very perceptive husband heard me blubbering uncontrollably, and suggested that he email when we had everything in order, and politely showed her to the door, with the promise of a 'declutter' proposal being drafted and executed. 
Of course, I understand that we will, eventually, have to pack up everything, and the cute teapot, along with my books will go along with all other items, but that will be another episode, and something to 'work towards'.  Samantha called shortly after our lady left, and I gave her the good news.  She would have to clear her enough space in her new home, to accommodate more of her belongings.  Her reaction was similar to mine.  We have all learned a few new ways to say, No! 

As my head clears enough for me to type this post, the sun is setting and I am contemplating how much bubble wrap will be needed.  I am not looking forward to changing my home back to its original state, the same as it was when I arrived eight years ago, the
'man cave' that was Dana's bachelor pad; a pool table being the only ornament, with a couple of chairs, in case anyone wanted to sit down.  However, needs must, and I will of course follow the advice of the expert.  With an agenda of sorting out what is necessary and what is not, I am sure I will find time for ............. another story.

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