It’s my mother’s house (even though she gave it to me years ago and in truth we are both on the title). That is the issue, that is the question, that is the thing that sits at the back of my mind and pokes at me from time to time…what to do with my mother’s house?
I moved out of it more than two and ½ years ago, my mother two years or more before that. I have been saying I was going to sell it and I have had every intention to do so…except that… I haven’t. I haven’t sold it. I haven’t even listed it.
She looks at it rationally
Now part of that is because the housing market has totally tanked and it’s worth half of what it was 5 years ago. If the market was where it was back then, I am not sure I would even be having this constant internal dialog with myself about this house. Yet at the same time I am not 100% certain; and I believe that is the crux of all of this. If I talk to anyone else it seems a simple thing and as soon as I walk away I find myself unable or unwilling or distracted and the house continues not to sell (not being on the market and all). It also has fallen in value over and over again, making any of this far less appealing.
Let’s add to this that I am renting the house to someone. I had fully intended on selling it the summer after I moved out and bought the home I am currently living in 3000 miles away. This came on the heels of renting to someone my then partner swore by and who never actually paid me rent and left the house sad and unkempt. I was “done with renters” and I wanted to sell. But then what actually happened was that the woman who was helping clean out the house really wanted to rent it for her and her son, and since I didn’t have to do anything to rent it other than say yes and accept some rent which I needed badly, the house never made it on the market.
There are pros and cons to renting to a friend/acquaintance. One of which is that the person who used to be glad to see you or hear from you will stop answering calls and emails and basically cease to exist other than sending rent each month. This has been problematic both emotionally and logistically.
There had been talk twice in as many years about this person buying the house, and yet nothing has come of it. Now as I look at it, it almost doesn’t make sense to sell the home because I would be losing money given the market. This of course brings me to the next item of issue…property taxes. Ah yes these are the things that when you are really broke, fall by the way side and become overdue then delinquent and thus adding hundreds of dollars to the already unpaid bill.
This is what is staring me in the face currently; that and the fact I have been told by my tax person that if I wait until after this year to sell I will be paying a lot of taxes on anything I get for the house even if it goes lower than it’s current value…so as I write this perhaps I should list it and just see what happens. Provided the renter will even show up to show the house (part of the problem when the person really doesn’t want you to sell it).
This however is actually not about my head…oh no dear readers; this is all about my heart
This comes down to what I started writing about; the house itself.
If I had a lot of money (this is the sentence that I use to find out how I really feel about something separate from my issues around the money involved) would I sell this house?
If money wasn’t an issue would I sell this house?
This is the house I spent time in toddling around with my parents and grandparents. The house with the 80 year old wisteria, honeysuckle and camellia tree; the house with the garage that my grandfather built; the house with a history that always started with “this house began as a chicken coop when this whole area was a large farm and the farm house was that house way over there on the corner” to which there would be a pointing finger attached and I would dutifully follow the finger down the block to the largish home that housed one of my childhood schoolmates.
This is the house that has a well on the property that no longer is used or accessible but I always remembered it and thought that if the world fell apart at least I would be able to find water…This well had been filled in by my grandfather long before I was born. He used many things to accomplish this feat; including dumping a claw foot bathtub down the shaft; at least this is the mythology that I was taught at an early age when hearing the history of the house.
This is the house that I moved to when I was 14 after my grandfather passed away. The house that held me through all my psychedelic wanderings and coming out on many levels; saw me through High School and learning to drive and reading about UFO’s, reading countless Sci-Fi novels, listening to David Bowie and hitchhiking to Seattle on the Friday nights. This is where I wrote my college essay to get into the vegetarian co-op that was housing for the alternative school that I eventually was accepted into and moved out of the house in order to attend.
This was the house that I would come home to visit on breaks and the occasional weekend; the one that I would visit my mother in after my father passed away, the one that I came more often down to, to visit her as she became farther away mentally and that I had to eventually move her out of when the dementia became too difficult.
This is the house that I moved back into in order to be closer to her and in order to make ends meet financially and as a result became very depressed about being back in Tacoma.
And yet even moved through that over time and found a new place and contentment with being in my old home town which had grown up even more than I had. I came to love Tacoma for the first time. I lived here with my partner and actually had some really nice times together in that house, planned our move to Hawaii, planned and had our wedding while living in that house. Watched fences get built and plants planted and renovations planned.
This is the house where I created so many dreams. Some which came true and some which sadly did not; such as the dream of the marriage that had barely more than a few breaths into life before it started to pass away into something else.
This house represented family and history and possibility; it also represented my adolescence and the baggage and old pain of things perhaps better left in the past. It has also come to be connected in my heart with my mother; who still lives in the same city at a lovely care facility that is thankfully more like a 4 star hotel; and which is only a 10 minute drive, but light-years away from the life once lived in this house.
It’s no wonder that I avoid these issues. There are so many layers here; one on the next and on the next and on the next. In my fantasies I keep the house and rebuild it, add an apartment above the garage where I come to stay when I am in town. I move my soon to be ex-husband into the home for some kind of more than fair rent and we have b-b-ques when I am in town, he with his partner(s) and I with mine (who ever those people are to be) and in my dreams it feels good and connected and family like…maybe I eventually sell it and maybe I don’t.
I ask myself am I just keeping some kind of connection to the mainland; one that I don’t even know why I have since I rarely ever want to leave the island on which I now live? Do I envision that some day I will want to have the kind of jet set life where I would like to have an apartment 30 miles outside of a huge metropolitan city?
Perhaps it’s not about that at all but just the idea of a feeling that I have had about this little piece of land. A little piece of my history; a tree we planted for my mother; an idea of what is still yet to be; connections to many people I love through an address I have to fly for 6 hours just to visit.
And of course where the money comes from in this fantasy I am at a loss to know, but that is the same question as where the money is to come from for the taxes. And yes of course being me I have to say that ultimately it all comes from the Universe; and while that is absolutely true and reveals itself even in the writing of all this; I also know this post is about something small I hold in my hands, something personal and delicate like a empty tiny blue egg shell that has been left in the grass, in the spring, under a tree; someone’s former home.
Do I have to make these decisions now? Well not today it’s a holiday weekend, but it feels like soon. Perhaps I am just not willing to let this go until my mother has passed from this world; perhaps I am not yet ready to let go of all of this history; but then again maybe I am. We’ll just have to see.
Aloha and Blessings,