I promise this will be the last I write about my old house.
A few columns ago, I detailed the whirlwind events of getting my house ready to put on the market, the open house, and the eventual sale of my home of 18 years. The month of days between selling our old house and moving into the new one was basically a series of roller coaster rides through horror films. But on moving day, my wife and I stood in the empty house and took one last selfie.
About two hours before that, I was carrying boxes to my car when I spotted something hanging in the window of the laundry room of the old house. It was a handmade clear, glass ball — about the size of a cantaloupe — that swirled with slight texture and bright color streaks. We found the ball in a small shop that featured hand-crafted items, like pottery, wood work, and jewelry. Kimberly and I were in the store getting our wedding bands and she remarked how much she liked the glass ball.
On the day of our wedding, I gave her the ornament as a gift. All this time later, there it was in the window on moving day.
“I need to get that down,” I thought as I carried another box to my car.
A day later, we were moving boxes and furniture into the new house. I looked at the morning sun gushing through the bathroom window. I thought it would be a perfect spot for the glass ornament I gave Kimberly almost 27 years ago.
And then, like those scenes in movies when the main character realizes he or she did something really stupid that will likely cause their own death, I realized I forgot to get that cherished wedding gift from the old house.
Suddenly, I didn’t like the new house. It felt incredibly hot, and tight, and there was this loud heartbeat sound. But it wasn’t the house. It was me having a panic attack.
“Kimberly is going to kill me,” I said to the sunlight in the bathroom. And the bathroom dimmed slightly, as if to say, “Yes, she is going to kill you.”
In reality, Kimberly was upset, but she wasn’t surprised. In fact, she probably expected me to do this. Along with almost 27 years of preserving that beautiful glass ball, Kimberly has put up with almost 27 years of me forgetting critical things at critical moments. Keys, wallet, debit card, receipts, gifts, bills — you name it. I can’t count how many of our conversations began with, “I need you to sit down because I forgot the …”
I had the email address for the new owners of our old house. I reached out to them to let them know what I had left there. This was the second time I reached out to them. The first time was in regard to our cat, Mr. Kitty, who was so spooked by moving day that he ran off, and we were unable to get him before we departed for our new address.
The new owners said they had seen Mr. Kitty and that they were happy to put out food and water for him until we were able to get back over there to get him. He’s a skittish cat that will run away from sudden moves and loud noises. For two months, the new owners emailed me about Mr. Kitty sightings, but no success in catching him.
We borrowed a trap for small animals and made arrangements to meet in person with the owners of our old home, so we could create a plan for catching our cat. This would also be our first time since we moved, that we would go into our old house. And, I would be able to retrieve the glass ball ornament.
It was weird standing on the porch waiting for the residents to answer the door. Our old door. New doorknob. There’s one of those doorbell cameras. This house is more than 100 years old. Is it even capable of supporting new technology?
The door opened and the young couple greeted us with so much happiness and joy. We went in and the four of us talked for an hour. It was fascinating and sweet to hear their side of the story and what it meant for them to love our house — their house. For a long time, they had wanted to get into our neighborhood, a feeling we shared when we first bought that house. They shared their excitement when they first saw the house was for sale.
We never stepped out of the living room, but I was fine with not seeing if anything had been changed. What was important to us was knowing that old house was still being filled with love and future memories.
We set an open can of cat food in the trap and placed it in an area frequented by Mr. Kitty. We said our good byes, and I carried a box full of mail and a priceless and fragile ornament, to the car. About an hour later, I got a call. Mr. Kitty was in the trap. He is now at his new home.
On Tuesday, I will hang that wedding gift in the bathroom window of our new house. It will mark the 27th anniversary of the day we got married and the day I gave Kimberly that gift. Yes, we were married on Valentine’s Day. At least I’ll never forget our anniversary.
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