The Wolfsie house is for sale, as we have settled into a new home just a few blocks away. This was a moving experience, to be sure, but there was nothing settling about it. In fact, it was the most stressful experience of our lives.
Prior to closing on the new house, we did something the builder calls a “celebration walk,” or our opportunity to nitpick every paint blemish, wobbly cabinet door and crooked electric socket before we coughed up the last portion of our down payment. My wife researched what to look for before we took possession. She wanted to ensure the structure’s soundness, and that there were no leaks or strange odors. I’m not sure I could pass that test.
We have been very conscientious about our house during the past 35 years, but it proved somewhat embarrassing when we started removing furniture and appliances from against the walls. It wasn’t surprising to find old keys, pennies and Bic pens everywhere, but there were dog biscuits way under the couch, and we haven’t had a dog in five years. When the movers found a diaper (clean, I swear) behind the washing machine, I autographed it and gave it to our 31-year-old son. I don’t think he ever missed it.
The movers worked 10 hours while Mary Ellen and I mostly just followed the guys around and said, “Put it there.” Pointing is exhausting at my age. When I had no idea where something went, I just pointed at the basement door and said, “Put it in the crawlspace, down there.”
“Mr. Wolfsie, you don’t have a crawl space in this house, so there is no there, there.”
I hate that expression, but he found the perfect time to use it.
Our first night in the new place was odd. For example, I told Mary Ellen every night for 35 years that I was tired and was going “up” to bed. I couldn’t say that anymore because we don’t have a second level. Now I have to say, “I’m going sideways to bed,” or “I’m going across to bed,” but not up to bed.
“This is crazy, Dick. Just say ‘I’m going to bed.’”
“That’s a hard habit to break. It would be like all of a sudden having to say, ‘Good night, Vivian,’ instead of ‘Good night, Mary Ellen.’ That’s why I’ll never remarry.”
The second evening, Mary Ellen caught me wandering around the house, confused.
“What can’t you find now, Dick? Glasses? Phone? Wallet?”
“No, the bathroom. I keep turning the wrong way. I may need to put up a few post-it notes.”
The third night, we enjoyed our first home-cooked meal prepared in our new kitchen. My wife asked, “Do you think we will ever move again?”
“Mary Ellen, this house will be perfect for us for another 30 years.”
Which was a subtle way of saying, “Over my dead body.”