What a surreal few days. Or weeks. It's hard to tell. Where to start?
We've been trying to move out of this house for what feels like years. We've always known that with our plans for children that we would want a bigger house eventually. And a bigger yard. Twice now we've tried and failed to sell this house so that we could move into something with at least one more bedroom. In our previous attempts, though, we weren't all that motivated to sell. We like our house and there was no pressing need to move. I wouldn't say they were half-hearted attempts, but we didn't push hard (i.e. cut our asking price) in order to close a sale. This time it's different. On our anniversary date (a repeatedly significant date for us) we found the lot on which we want to build our next (and hopefully last for many years) home. It's the size we want (over an acre), with the trees we want, in the neighborhood we want in the part of town we want. So last week we signed a contract to buy the lot. Just like that. After over two years of house hunting. And now we're motivated to sell our house.
A couple of weeks ago I also ran into an old friend of mine. We haven't talked in years, but he's one of those people it's always nice to bump into. We were great friends growing up, until we went to different high schools and gradually drifted apart. Our parents kept in touch over the years, though, so we'd continue to hear bits and pieces of each other's lives through the grapevine. In some weird way I can't change my perception of how I knew him way back when we were children. To me he's still the same fun to be around kid with the crazy sense of humor. (One time we toilet papered the inside of his house because we were too chicken to sneak out and TP someone else's house.) It's like he was cryogenically frozen right after the last time we hung out together as kids. In reality, he's a grown man with a job, a wife, two kids and who knows what responsibilities. We ran into each other at a restaurant while we were each out with our wife and kids. (My kids on their worst behavior, his on their best. Of course.) It was strange but not uncomfortable seeing him that night. Is it always that way with people you were once close to but aren't any longer?
Well, a few days later my mom called me to tell me that this friend's little brother had succumbed to cancer. He was 21 years old and had been battling it for a few years. I didn't know the younger brother as well, but I had met him enough times to come away with a lasting impression. He had an infectious smile. He seemed to radiate goodness. At least that was the impression I got. At his funeral, the priest had similar views. It was heart wrenching to see my friend bury his younger brother. It was heart wrenching to see my friend's kids losing their uncle. I couldn't stop thinking about my own younger brother. About my own kids. I saw my childhood friend in pain. I cannot imagine what his family is going through.
After the mass we all met for lunch and alcohol as we Catholics often do. Here I ran into another old friend. This one I hadn't seen in over twenty years. He looked exactly how I imagined he would look after the passage of twenty years. But again my brain was struggling to reconcile this current vision with the 8 year old version of my friend that was apparently seared in my psyche. He's a grown man. With five kids. One set of twins. All boys. Wow.
I got the email addresses of both of these old friends before I left. Normally it would be a safe bet to say that those addresses would never get used. I haven't talked to them in twenty years. Our lives briefly crossed paths again. If I don't contact them, they probably won't care or even notice. But that would be the insipid thing to do. I think I'll buck the trend this time and reach out to them some time soon.
By the time I left that day, my mind was tired. My thoughts were bouncing off of each other. Perspective. Worth. Meaning. Funerals can do that to you. My reflection was short lived, though. There were four kids at home waiting to switch my brain back into survival mode. That, and the housing "situation." The land is being purchased. There will be no house built on that land until this house is sold. This house will be sold. In a few days the realtor would be here as we put the house back on the market. Much work to be done. Quickly.
We can't start building a new house until this house is sold. That means there will be a period of homelessness for us. We may need to ask the in-laws if we can stay with them for a few months. Let's contemplate the idea of the six of us living under someone else's roof for a few months. No. Let's not contemplate that. My brain has had all the surreality it can handle for now.