At last, yesterday, a day late, my New York apartment was legally handed over to a new owner.
Anyone who has ever bought or sold a home knows the ceremony: a bunch of people – lawyers, brokers, bankers, title company representative, buyer, seller and usually one or two unidentified others - gather in a room to sign a whole lot of documents and exchange little rectangular pieces of paper that represent money. A property is then legally and officially transferred from one party to another.
People who deal in real estate for a living experience no sentiment in these transactions. But for someone selling a home, which is more than a house, there are emotional entanglements. Attachment. Devotion. Affection. Memories.
I hadn’t understood how a building, a wood, brick, stucco, etc. structure devoid of living qualities, can worm its way into your heart until, years ago, I made curtains (over several winters) for all 35 windows in a house I had in upstate New York. Until I had refinished several oaken cabinets overlaid with layers of cheap paint that came with that house. And reclaimed the gardens that had lain fallow for half a decade or more.
I had no idea until then that the more of yourself you put into what is, in reality, only shelter, the more it becomes a part of you. Even more important are the memories of people – family, friends, incidents funny and sad, parties, dinners, joys and sorrows - that build up over the years and move a home way out of the shelter category and into something much more – a personal sense of place…
And I didn’t experience a whit of those feelings in letting go of my New York home yesterday, not a drop.
I’m surprised and I’m not surprised. It’s taken a year to effect this move from New York to Maine and it’s mostly relief I feel in at last getting it done. In an hour, I trek off to Pennsylvania to pick up my nifty new car and then Tuesday, a farewell to Manhattan as Ollie the cat and I make our way north.
There is one more closing, next Thursday, to purchase our new home in Portland – an apartment free of attachment yet with a world of new memories to be created there.