By Robin Shainberg
The author wrote about leaving her family’s longtime Rye home in the April 25, 2022 issue. Last month, she and her husband and dogs finally moved into their new home in Rye Brook.
So, everyone was right; we did sell our home of almost 25 years in one day, to the first family who walked through the door the spring weekend it went on the market. We had to then change our focus to packing up and moving out, but the new townhouse in Rye Brook we were moving into would not be ready until the fall.
Decluttering to show your house is the first step in the packing-up process when you plan to sell and move. The second step is negotiating with your spouse about every little thing he doesn’t think you need to take with you when you sell and move. (The solution is to quickly pack those things into cardboard boxes first.) If you came to our house during the 90 days between when we signed the contract to sell, up to and including the day we moved out, chances are you were gifted with something permanently or temporarily we couldn’t take with us. If you were lucky, you also got to help pack up a box, or three. If you were one of the two young adult children who grew up in our house, the third step was to not go through the things in your room, despite repeated requests to do so.
Little by little, our house started not to look like our house. It was like the reverse nesting moms-to-be do before a baby is born. Since it was spring, winter clothes and coats were easy to pack. The basement and garage were annoying to deal with, but it was easy to donate things or throw them away. Kitchen stuff required a lot of extra packing material. In a low mood for a couple of days, I gave away many serving trays, bowls, and other items used for entertaining; I couldn’t imagine we would have friends or family visiting us after we moved. Furniture was a pain. Framed family photos and my kids’ rooms were the most difficult. I never painted over the growth chart near the pantry.
Since we could not move directly from one house to the next, we had rented an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in Rye for six months. There we planned to watch and wait for the construction to be complete enough to move in. For 90 days prior though, there was much discussion to be had, and decisions to be made about what we needed to live comfortably in the apartment, and what could go to long-term storage. More discussion followed about what items would then move with us to the new house, and/or potentially go to one of our sons who was moving to a new apartment in the city, or what we would give away in the end.
Our dogs were mad and mopey after we moved to the rental apartment. They didn’t understand why they lost all their hangout places: no front porch, no front yard, no backyard. No comfy family room couch to nap on. Since we lived near Purchase Street, we soon figured out new routes to walk, and, depending on which direction we headed, they learned which one ended up at Longford’s. I was also mad and mopey. We had a mice issue for the first three weeks, which left me unhinged until it was solved. I accidentally drove back home to Midland Avenue twice, once from Target and once after work. I made it all the way to putting on my turn signal for the driveway before I remembered I didn’t live there anymore.
Two days after we moved to the apartment, I was invited over to a friend’s house for game night, which I thought was a perfect distraction. I showed up with a bottle of wine and a card game, and instead found my longtime Rye and Rye Brook friends all there together. They had planned a surprise shiva (the traditional Jewish gathering for mourning) for my house. I laughed and cried as everyone shared photos and spoke about memories of events they had participated in at our home over the years. There were no games played, but I was the big winner that evening.
By late November, our apartment lease was ending. Our new home was still not ready, thanks to a backlog in home inspections due to the Thanksgiving holiday week. Thankfully, my same kind and very generous friend offered us her home in Rye while she was away. For the second time in six months, we packed up and the professional moving and storage company picked up our things and put them in a truck to go into storage. With only suitcases, groceries, dog beds, and the dogs in our cars, we moved out again. My friend’s big fenced-in backyard was the gift which kept on giving for all of us that week.
We did finally move into the new house in December. It’s like being on vacation somewhere where we like the artwork, and where we could see ourselves living, but it doesn’t yet feel like ours. My talented residential architect husband and our equally talented interior designer friend chose nice couches, rugs, and lighting fixtures. I call it a surprise house — every time something is delivered, I say, “Oh, that’s so nice!” as though I forgot we bought it.
Our boys have stayed over, and we have had many friends and family members come to visit. (I wish I had kept those trays.) Our dogs nap well in every room and have new places to walk and play. I keep my GPS on all the time in the car because I am not sure where I am in the world just yet, and how to get here.
Last week, we purposely drove down Midland Avenue after taking our dogs to Playland beach. The string lights in the backyard of our old house are still up. The new owners have two boys and a dog, which feels just right. We have heard they are very happy. We are already making new memories in our new home, and hope they are, too.