Wednesday, July 11, 2007

To borrow a title from Shakespeare, "All's Well That Ends Well." At approximately 11:30 this morning I ceased to be a property owner and resident of Massachusetts and, after signing a small mountain of paperwork, handed over the keys for my house to E, who was just bubbling over with enthusiasm to move in and begin his life there. It wasn't bittersweet at alkl. The closing was more like a small party of friends gathered to celebrate some significant life passage. Here's how it all came to be the last couple of days.

Tuesday. At 8:45am, right on time, Gentle Giant Movers arrived and three great looking guys walked up to the front door. Istvan, Andrei and Andrios, all of them Roumanian, turned out to be pros in the best sense of the word. Completely organized, supremely careful of my possessions, polite (at one point Andrei apologized for holding a conversation with Andrios in a foreign language in my presence) and full of good humor, they had everything inventoried, wrapped for shipping, packed into the truck and ready to go in just three hours. While they worked, I loaded the Jeep with everything small I could put my hands on. I also kept an eye out for the Fire Department smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inspector who was due between nine and noon.

Having been denied the required certificate the week before, I was very careful to mount all the CO detectors exactly where the first inspector had said they should go. But by 11:45, nobody'd shown up. The certificate was a total requirement for closing the next day so I was concerned. Just after the guys took off for New Hampshire with the truck, a car pulled up and the inspector got out of it slowly and with some difficulty. The inspection process was surprising to say the least.

He was a very nice man who had a crippled leg and walked with difficulty. He had some trouble making it up the two steps into my front hall, so I was concerned about his ability to negotiate the stairs in my house, particularly the rather steep ones going up to the attic level. I needen't have worried. He tested the two smoke and one CO detectors on the first floor and then looked me straight in the eye, " You've got the same equipment and the same set-up on the two upper floors, right?"

"Yes, and placed according to instructions of the inspector who came last week."

"What have you got in the basement?"

"One smoke detector at the bottom of the basement stairs."

"Great, that's what we like to hear. Where's there a place I can write out the certificate?"

The entire process took seven minutes. He wished me well on the move and left. I followed him out and took off for route 93 north. Because the movers were going to take their mandated lunch break along the way and I settled for take-out while driving, I got to Fritz's ahead of them and was able to greet them on their arrival. In about half an hour, almost everything was neatly stacked in the lower of the barn and it was time to get the antique soapstone sink that I had inherited in the basement of my Roslindale house (it's going to be the kitchen sink in the new house) out of the truck.

The guys had mounted it onto a piano moving dolley (we estimated its weight at 400 pounds) and very carefully guided it down the truck's ramp and into place in the barn. I pulled out a dolley I had ready for it and watched as just two of them lifted the sink from theirs to mine, setting it down very gently. Fritz and I were amazed, and he commented on their ability to do that kind of lifting. "Were especially trained" Andrei said with a wink, and the move was over. I gave them each a good tip and off they went. Fritz then joined me for the return trip to Boston to help in the final cleanup.

After a good dinner out (there was no possibility of cooking anything with what was left in the house) we dug in, and before bed time we put a small mountain of trash out for pick-up on Wednesday. We slept on an old foam mattress I had kept for guests which went onto the trash pile in the morning.

Wednesday: I woke at five to the dawn chorus of birds which is always very full and loud in Roslindale and a beautiful way to start the day. We got up about six and made the final comb through the house to make sure the place was picked clean. Then I vacuumed while Fritz checked everything all over again. The Jeep was close to full when we broke at eight for breakfast at Starbucks, then back to the house where the last few items were squeezed into the Jeep. I found one or two little surprises in cabinets or behind radiators and most of them were trashed.

E, all bright and excited, arrived early for the walk-through. I took him around, showed him where I had put the instruction manuals for equipment in the house, where spare doors and woodwork that matched the deck outside the kitchen and spare siding from my having had the outside redone were stored. I showed him my kitchen range with the big, self-cleaning oven and he was delighted. He always has his whole family in for a big Thanksgiving Dinner (he worked as a chef for a caterer for some time in the past). His realtor and mine arrived within minutes of each other and all were delighted at how clean and truly empty the house was--apparently some owners leave a lot of stuff behind. I had spoken with E in advance about what curtain rods or shades he might fine useful for me to leave for him, so there were no problems. We headed out in convoy for the closing.

It took an hour. The lawyer representing me had all the paperwork ready. A hearty, outgoing type, he was great to deal with and we spent a lot of time joking. E and I talked back and forth across the conference table, his realtor (an old friend of his parents), my realtor, and Fritz stayed on the sidelines enjoying the show. Finally, I handed E the keys and it was all over. Handshakes all around. E and I hugged and kissed each other on the cheek. I wished him every bit as much happiness as I have had in the house. I know sellers aren't supposed to care who buys the property just so long as it sells, but I had a wonderful feeling about E taking the place over.

Fritz and I drove north. He can be a wonderfully silly man at times. As we crossed the border he said, "By the power vested in me by the governor of this state, I welcome you to New Hampshire. " When we crossed the line into town, it was, "By the power vested in me by the Board of Selectmen, I welcome you to the town of Raymond." And when we parked in the driveway it was the Board of Directors of his non-profit. Then we got out of the Jeep, hugged--and I was home.

and another adventure begins. by the power invested in me by my cats, I offer hearty congratulations to both of you.
Hearty hugs and congratulations on your successful transition - you've had us all on the edges of our seats!


And speaking of the edges of seatesk, I Just watched "Maria Callas - Living and Dying for Art and Love" a DVD apparently made for the BBC, with loads of clips from the Zeffirelli film of Callas & Gobbi and the most chilling ending to Act 2 of Tosca - which has me in an altered state.
Congratulations! It's been a long and complicated process.
BRAVO! So glad it went so well (but really you had it SO impressively organized!)

Looking forward to the next chapter in your life - and seeing the house grow before our eyes.

"What have you got in the basement" reminds me of the guy at the gas station yesterday morning who asked me "So, everything OK under the hood this morning?". I told him I thought so.

Congrats....happiest of days ahead. Oh, and lots of love too.
i am happy for you!
and look forward to the next chapter at DesignerBlog.
Congratulations! I am very happy to hear that everything finally turned out so well.
Congratulations on making it through everything! Here's to a new chapter in New Hampshire!
What a beautifully emotive piece of writing. Also, how wonderful that you have handed over your home to someone who will love it and care for it. That makes all the difference, I think. I look forward to reading about the next chapter of your life as your new house takes shape in form and heart.
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