Working title…

I wanted to write something today but don’t know what to write about. Like I so often do, I started something the other day and have now come back into the draft and deleted everything in it and I’m writing this now. I’ve named this post “Working title…” in the interim while I figure what I’m writing here.

Not that there aren’t things to talk about. The referendum on the UK remaining in the European Union took place and the leave camp won. Is it just me or is the West trending farther and farther right towards jingoism and intolerance? I thought the days of rabid nationalism were behind us. So much for that.

There’s only one kind of nationalism I find to be constructive and that is of the footballing variety. I should qualify that by saying that there’s still plenty of the ugly nationalism in football, but the sheer explosion of national pride and joy in Iceland’s commentator is of the sort I don’t mind. That’s some funny stuff there.

I’m not going to muse about the state of the world’s politics, I can’t stomach it. But as a father I have to wonder what this apparent global trend toward nativism means for my kids. Is this a blip on the screen? Perhaps we will see a trend against unfettered globalization for the next several years. Could this be necessary? This is a very weird moment.

In our family, there are many big changes about to take place. Ever since Sean, Sophie and I moved back from South Africa, we have lived in my parent’s house. Yep folks, that’s over four years. So spare a kind word for my parents, who have put up with my crazy ass for all that time. Susanne moved in here after we were married, and it’s been the lot of us living in the basement this whole time. Savanna’s first year, first steps, first most things happened there. While enormously challenging, this was probably necessary for me after the world came tumbling down around my ears. I’ve had the opportunity to rebuild, a luxury not afforded to everyone.

All good things, though, must come to an end, and I am happy to say that our time at the Jones Ranch is drawing near. It’s a long story but I’ll give here a brief run-down of events leading up to this: some of you are aware that the first house I ever owned was the one I bought with Janie, in Wilmington. We bought that house right before the bubble on the housing market burst, in 2006, for $133,000. It is located in Wilmington’s Little Italy neighborhood. We loved living there and at the time we bought it, Little Italy seemed to be about to turn the corner and turn into the next Trolley Square. We thought it was a good investment, and indeed nine months after we bought it we had the house re-evaluated (to drop PMI) and were told the house was worth $192,000. We put maybe $5,000 into the house in upgrades and it valued like mad. It was a loony time, for sure.

Then the bubble burst and the area’s value plummeted. We moved to South Africa in November of 2009, and it’s been rented out to a succession of people ever since. I won’t go into the gory details but it’s not been entirely smooth sailing. After my last renter decided she no longer felt compelled to pay rent, I put the house back on the market (with her in it). Her eviction took some time but it’s been over a year since any income has come from that house. It’s been, shall we say, a stretching experience. These things happen to the best, I suppose. That being said, this circumstance, too, is about to be put to bed.

On Tuesday, I sign the house over to the its new owner. It’s an exciting, oddly sad emotion. It’s weird to think that this house where some of the best memories of my life were made became such an albatross, and now that I am able to move it along there’s still this ambivalence. Move along it shall, though, and on the same day I hand the keys over to the new owner, Susanne and I are closing on our home here in Newark. That is another saga which I will not go into in detail, but suffice to say that short sales are anything but short. Or simple. Or fun. But… we have us our home. It’s big enough for all of us which has always been a challenge with our budget, so that we took the long way around, while not exactly incident free was a beast borne of necessity.

These events were meant to culminate on Monday, actually, but as it happens it was (honestly, thankfully) postponed to next Tuesday. I don’t think I could have parted with the old house and signed on for the new one all on the anniversary of Janie’s death. That would have been something of an emotional overload. I am taking the day off on the 28th, will sign piles upon piles of paperwork and by the end of it have both feet firmly planted in our Next Big Adventure.

What are the superlatives that could be employed to describe my state of excitement? This might be an appropriate place to deploy a barrage of emojis but alas, I will spare you, gentle reader. The house in Wilmington has symbolized different things to me over the years: when Janie was alive, it was our first real home. We’d lived in other houses but this one had our names on it. We welcomed so many friends into it. I remember our house warming party. I remember how we’d invite friends over: be it from our supper club or lifers like the Salfranks and Ray Ray. We welcomed family from South Africa, Wendy, Shaun, Emma… we had parties, we played Wii after too, too much wine. We welcomed Sean and Sophie into our family. It was a happy place, a place I loved.

I did not know when we left it that it would become an unwelcome burden. To part with it after years of it being such a point of tension in my life is both welcome and bitter. I didn’t want this place to become a symbol of being stuck. Releasing it is very much a freeing exercise, a chance to move on. It’s done with mixed emotions but with absolute clarity of mind.

The new house needs work. It’s big – over 2,000 squares. Thankfully, there are not too many major things to be done. By moving into this house, Susanne and I are settling down on our patch of earth and building a home for our kids, a place that will mean everything to us and to them, for years and years to come. The sense of excitement is palpable for all of us, with the kids asking repeatedly for the chance to go through it. They will get their chance on Tuesday.

I guess today I feel as though I am perched on the edge of a world whose contours are unknown to me. New things aren’t bad, but they can be intimidating.

I think I’m going to stick with “Working title…” for this one. Seems to be appropriate, with so much still being underway…

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