Letting Go

October 31, 2017 - 4 minutes read

I was watching Saturday afternoon football on TV, and wondering what I would write my next blog about when I received the following email.

Alan,
The buyers have agreed and signed our counter offer. I will open escrow on Monday and be in touch with you, Congratulations!
Bill O.

I thought, “Great!”  But at the same time I felt hollow.

The house I have for sale is located across from the Mission Ranch on Dolores Street in Carmel, California. I was introduced to the quaint, seaside town of Carmel more than fifty years ago by one of my very best friends, John.  The house on Dolores is the first one I ever built. It’s surrounded by cypress trees and beauty. It’s where my family and I celebrated Christmas with friends for more than thirty years. But last year I spent Christmas on a Caribbean cruise – the tradition of Christmas in Carmel finished because of my divorce, and, partly, my own declining interest.

On reading the email that the house in Carmel might be finally sold, I initially thought “Great!” And then I felt hollow.  That’s the way it often is – my mind goes one way, my heart goes another.

The “Great” was from my head and completely justified.  Over the past twenty years, other than for those few days during Christmas, I had seldom visited the house.  Once I showed up in July without giving anyone notice.  The house was a mess.  The caretaker had assumed I would never arrive unexpectedly, and I found the sheets and towels from Christmas still piled on the floor in front of the washing machine.  But by then even Christmas in Carmel had lost its zest, even if the spaghetti sauce I prepared each year for thirty or forty guests had not.

Also, I had blocked the CPA part of my mind from telling the rest of me that the Dolores house was costing me tens of thousands of dollars a day for only five or six days a year of actual use.  Mortgages and property taxes don’t care about Christmas.

“Great!” my mind now said.  “You won’t have to take care of that house any longer.  No more new roofs, no gardener, no painting.  And I won’t have to replace the thirty-five year old carpet (still the original).  Selling Dolores will be a blessing!”

But at the same time there was a hollow place inside me where all the good memories still live. I spent many wonderful hours in that house: playing pinochle until dawn with my father brother, enjoying my young children as they tore off wrapping paper to find their gifts, feeling the warmth of a crackling pine fire during many chilly winter nights.

I hold on to people, and to places.  I simply don’t like to let anything go.

But, hopefully, my Carmel home away from home will soon be owned, probably remodeled, by another family who will bring to it their own dreams, experience in it their own joys, and create their own sweet memories.

As the American Indians use to say, we don’t really own anything.  We only get to use it for a while.

Alan

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