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A Reluctant Landlord

Last week I watched our house die. Well, not die, exactly. More like vomit. I should explain.

We’ve decided to take our house in Philly off the market and lease it out instead. There seem to be a trove of people wanting to lease and nary a one wanting to buy. Who are we to argue with the tides of economics in the US?

We aren’t actually living in our house, and haven’t been for the last seven months. Our furniture and most of our belongings have been enjoying the space without us in it. Since we decided to lease the place, we had to make it shiny, clean and empty. To make that happen, last week movers came and packed all the crap we’ve collected over the years. At one point the driveway, lawn, and street were full of boxes and bits of furniture. It looked like the house literally spewed its contents. Eventually all of it found a spot inside the 8 x 26 truck (a feat even the movers were shocked to accomplish as apparently the sales person had fudged some numbers which resulted in them bringing a slightly smaller truck than they needed).

As I waved goodbye, I have to admit I wondered if I would ever see my stuff again. Not that I thought they’d steal it, exactly. It’s just that you really do have to put a lot of faith in strangers to let them haul off all your worldly possessions. Mind you, the important things (my computer, the cat, and my husband), are all safely ensconced in our one bedroom apartment in Dallas. So really, would I miss these things if they never found their way to me? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Have you ever wandered around in your house after everything is gone? It’s a lonely feeling. The place echoes with footsteps and memories. We only lived there two years and, honestly, I wasn’t in love with the place. I didn’t hate it but, on my top 10 list of places to live, this ranked somewhere around, oh, 12. And yet…I’m depressed. Change is hard, even change you thought you wanted.

As I stood in the empty living room I contemplated just how we’d managed to get into this situation. It was stupid to buy a house in Philly. We knew we wouldn’t stay forever. My husband hates the cold. I missed my friends and family. Despite that, we expected to be there at least five years so it made sense, in our minds, to go ahead and buy a place we liked. Neither of us are big fans of apartment living. Then, two years later, surprise!

Who knew my husband would get a new job?

Who knew the housing market would tank?

I wish I’d meet a person with a crystal ball.

After I watched the truck drive away and moped around the empty house for a bit, I raced across the country to be ready for when the truck arrived at the storage facility. They arrived in a much larger truck. I think you could ship a small boat in it. And all of our stuff had to go from there, to a 10×20 storage unit. From the start I had butterflies as I contemplated just what I’d do if everything didn’t fit. Have an emergency garage sale? Beg family to come fetch things? As the men assessed the situation, I heard comments such as “Oh it’ll fit” followed by “How much did this load weigh again?” and a shake of the head.

“We’re gonna have to go high and tight on this one,” the tall mover said.

“We can float it all, it’ll be fine,” the short mover replied.

“You dreamin’.” The tall mover shook his head and walked away to assess the growing pile of stuff on the pavement.

I have no idea what that is code for, but suspect the tall mover was accurate in his assessment of the situation. The third mover never left the truck. He kept tossing things down for the others to catch and move. I wondered how he got so lucky, he didn’t do any actual hauling at all.

It took four hours for the three men to treat our belongings like a giant Jenga puzzle. I kept having images of Storage Wars (a show on cable) flash through my head. Wouldn’t Darrel just love to be able to bid on my locker! It’s a 10×20, and by the time they were done there wasn’t an inch to spare. As I watched them put things in, I had to tie my hands not to pull things aside.

“Oh, wouldn’t I love to have that chair in the apartment.”

“I could use those pots and pans.”

“My Christmas decorations! I need those!”

In the end, all I could fit in my car was three boxes of pantry items, a desk chair and a small kitty condo. The rest is stuffed in that locker like pimentos in olives. And here we sit in our one bedroom apartment, with the $15 coffee table and metal bed frame that is already broken on one side, while our nice furniture sits crammed in storage and our nice new house sits empty and lonely.

Whoever they turn out to be, our renters will live better than we do. There is something very wrong with that picture.

7 comments on… “A Reluctant Landlord”

  1. Touching story, Melinda. My heart aches at the thought of moving from our current place… Not our dream home by any stretch, not even ours to own. But these walls hold countless memories. I can imagine how difficult it must be to walk through your home after it’s been emptied.

    Wishing you a new beginning so gratifying that it makes every bit of ache worthwhile.

    • Funny thing is I moved a lot as a child and never gave a thought to the place we lived in. We moved so often it just didn’t matter. But now that I’m an adult it’s starting to matter a lot more. Funny how that happens.

  2. I loved the story, Melinda. We are not defined by what we own, but our possessions do tell a story of who we are and what we went through, don’t they? I share the feeling of leaving a home. Every time I move, I want to hug the walls and thank the place. Is it silly? Crazy?

    • I don’t think it’s silly at all! My hope is to find someone to live in it who loves it as much as I do. This makes it really hard when you are trying to sell the house lol. Can’t have emotions in the mix when you need to sell, it just doesn’t work. I wanted to apologize to the house for being so fickle and moving out so fast. And I’d soooo love to have my chair/chaise lounge in this apartment. I’m sad it’s in storage. Ah well lol. Sooner or later we’ll get things sorted.

  3. Oh how I feel your pain Melinda!

    My husband and I moved a year ago. We were fortunate to sell our home, but we pretty much walked away from it.

    Now we live in half the space. And it’s okay really. It’s half the work, if ya know what I mean?

    It really doesn’t take that much to make us happy. In this economy, as long as we have a roof over our heads and food on our table, it’s a great day! 🙂

  4. Melinda,
    What you did last week–moving out of your house and storing your belongings–would have been hard if you’d done it to free yourself to search for a dream home, but it’s downright miserable when you must downsize against your will. On the plus side, your husband got a job offer he couldn’t refuse. Love that the movers treated your belongings “like a giant Jenga puzzle.”

  5. I feel for you. I would have had a terrible time moving from a house (even one I didn’t love) to an apartment and putting my belongings in storage. Hang in there. Things will get better.

It gets lonely out here in the big wide webs. Talk to me!