On December 10, 2013, Robin and I braved the icy roads of Northwest Arkansas for a short trip from our new and temporary apartment to our old home on Jimmie Ave. With the closing time scheduled just a few hours in the future we wanted to spend a few minutes in our home.
Each room was completely empty of furniture and belongings, yet so full of memories. It was hard to walk through the house and see vast expanses of emptiness where so much has happened in the last 16 or so years. There were birthdays, Christmas parties, my dear sister and her husband were married in a E. Fay Jones inspired gazebo that I spent days building. There were days and nights spent surviving an ice storm in 2009 when the power was out for 7 consecutive days. There were great celebrations with our dear friends and gourmet meals cooked to perfection, there were endless sailing club board meetings, dramatically improved by eating a meal together. There were celebrations of change and sad times when change had affected us so very negatively. All of them now just memories. Just a chapter in a closed book, placed conveniently upon a dusty shelf. We can never return “home”. Sad? Maybe. Robin and I are looking forward to many new adventures. We always knew that our life and lifestyle wasn’t going to be sustainable on Jimmie. The house was entirely too big for just a couple of people who had raised a son and were ready to downsize.
Barb, who has excellent taste in wine, set us up with a fantastic bottle of zinfandel. I expertly uncorked the wine and poured it into two glasses that we had left behind just for this occasion. With the fireplace blazing, we sat cross-legged on the empty expanse that was our living room. A flood of memories and tears soon ensued. We cried, we reminisced, we toasted, and then suddenly we were ready to move on; to close this chapter, and open new ones. It was really that simple.
We finished our bottle of wine and walked through the house one more time and headed to our favorite restaurant Mermaids. Initially, we started going to Mermaid’s on Tuesdays because bottles of wine were half price and appetizers were on special for happy hour. A super deal, since we like both. However, the thing that kept us coming back was Toula, the manager of the bar. Tuesdays at Mermaids became “Toula Tuesdays” since we knew that we would be greeted with a warm smile and extra care from someone that we have grown to admire. So, in our vulnerable state after saying goodbye to the house on Jimmie, we arrived at Mermaids. Toula took care of us and served us a great meal to end the evening and shared in our excitement and tredpidation about this finalization of our first step of our adventure.
We made our way back to our apartment where we reflected on the past months activity. Robin pointed out that the house selling business has been pretty much a hurry up and wait enterprise. In February and March we worked hard to get things ready to go on the market. We killed ourselves for days moving crap and getting ready to be on the market. Then we stalled, spending the Spring and Summer aboard Sea Change hopeful for a sale. Again in September, we painted make changes and cleared more stuff away for Clark Partners realty group to re-list the house. Hopeful but a little afraid, we watched the For Sale sign get put in the front yard again. Then the whirlwind hit, with force. Three weeks after listing we had an offer and then began the process of actually moving out of the house that we had occupied for the past 16 years. It would turn out to be job much larger than I had anticipated.
A week before we were ready to close, our stuff still in boxes in the garage, one of the worst winter storms Northwest Arkansas had seen hit with a vengeance. An ice storm laid down several inches of ice and sleet then an additional 7 inches of snow piled upon the ice. The roads were a nightmare.
In the sixteen years we’d lived on Jimmie Avenue I had never failed to get my trusty 4 wheeled cars up and down the drive. This was not to be the case this year as my many attempts failed with a bad slide towards the embankment. Robin and I waited it out for a few days but ultimately needed to shovel a small strip of pavement to get the 4runner up the drive and remove the last bits of our stuff from the house.
We were successful and after countless trips to our over stuffed storage place, we were completely out! Success!
We grabbed our boat cards and walked the neighborhood. Stopping at Jo’s house, a retired school teacher who had been our neighbor on Jimmie. Heading on to the next house, it became clear to me that leaving the house was easier than the leaving the people we had come to know and love in our neighborhood. They were as much of a part of Robin and I, as we were of them. We made our way down the street hugging and wishing well our neighbors of the past 16 years.
The next day, on a sunny but not warm December day, we arrived at the closing office, signed the appropriate paper work and were done. That was it. Months of worry about the house not selling were gone. Chapter closed. Here we go!