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May 17, 2006.

Buying and Selling Houses

The darkest time usually is just before the dawn. We haven't gotten the Ithaca house yet, but the seller did agree to let us move in and we found a house sitter that would watch the turtles. The closing date is now scheduled for June 1, almost a full month after the promised date. At least we don't pay rent for a full month, it's like having a free place to live; we just pay utilities. We moved in during a rainstorm over about 48 hours before driving 30 hours to reach Dallas.

Dallas is just as everyone expected. Gwen has started to take over with her stacks creeping into the den and her thinking its permanent. With Anna and me in the house, she's constantly pissed off because we make so much noise and move stuff around. Also, I think I represent the reality of the house getting sold. I remember my grandmother always saying, "I'm going to sell this old house." and laughing because I knew it would never happen, but thinking it would be so easy. "Just put a sign in the yard and let someone buy it," I thought. Well now the shoe is sort of on the other foot. I can't sell the house without the help of my grandmother's four children and they are classically unhelpful.

My mom wants to sell the house even though I think she'd benefit most of all from keeping the house. Gwen obviously wants to keep the house, although to some degree I'm projecting human emotion on her based on her best interests. I don't know if anyone has actually asked her opinion and I don't think it would be a fruitful process anyway. She's really far gone these days. Rob wants to sell the house most aggressively, but he's been too wrapped up in his own business to deal with the estate. Donna wants to sell the house, but I don't know what's been keeping her from making any hands-on progress. It's possible she's working in her own way just like me, but I haven't seen her in a month so I'm not up to date on the progress at her end. The house remains untouched; it's a frightening sight, right out of Great Expectations, with all the curtains fully drawn and the shades all the way down on every window that remains perpetually locked tight just like the windows and doors. The glasses and plates are still right out where they were last used with no one to come pick them up and wash them. My grandmother's ash tray remained full of butts on the table by the back door for three months until I arrived to clean it up.

Nothing moves, but some things have been added. Gwen has a collection of plastic silverware sets with napkins in them all neatly stacked on the very same table with the ash tray. When she was forced to use a fork, knife or napkin out of the set, she has neatly folded up the plastic wrapper and kept the remaining utensils for later use. Of course, three months of collecting has created a tower of plasticware a foot high that will never be used. With no one in the house to keep her secure, Gwen's agoraphobia has grown in scope to where she seems deathly afraid of even a single air particle passing into the house. The house is like a cave with no natural light, but all the lights in the house stay on all the time. Of course, this practice has ended since I arrived. The smell of dust and decay is so strong that I find myself unable to work more than an hour at a time in the mess without my eyes getting all puffy, not to mention that I'm just creeped out.

Hopefully some real progress will be made in the next three weeks and the house will be less crypt-like. Check back next month for the progress report.