PONR

The new house closed. We haven’t yet absorbed this. Such changes in the past four months! Marsh called it “shellshock.” For me, there’s a slowing effect — we can now dive into all the exciting work we’ve been thinking about, but my instinct suddenly is to proceed carefully.

It’s probably not a bad instinct. Even so, we do have a preliminary renovation phase with a lot of “interim” solutions, so we really don’t have to be worried about, say, rushing and ruining some part of our dream home. We’re free to guess wrong on almost all of our first tasks, like where to connect the kitchen sink. It’d be nice if it were exactly where we’ll eventually want it, but what are the chances? Meanwhile, we do need a sink.

Where was our point of no return? November 15? Any of the intermediate financial steps, like listing the Virginia house, making an offer on the Maine house? The sale of the Virginia house? It could have been any, or all. But this closing shunts us into our future, all our pasts behind us. All our concerns, as of now, are concerns rooted in this new reality.

It feels as liberating as I expected; but of course there’s an adjustment period, which I could have anticipated but not measured. Part of it is sheer decision fatigue: high-stakes phone conversations with lawyers, insurance agents, salespersons, town officials; juggling of calendars with each other, with the weather forecast, with our hosts where we are staying; shifting gears (ironically) from a sort of vague spendthrift mode (when we didn’t know all the net outcomes, but had less cash on hand) to a determined austerity mode (now that all the numbers are in and we have, on paper, more).

That “more” has to last as long as it possibly can, even as the new property tosses us curve balls, as it certainly shall. So part of the adjustment period is also about actually facing the new reality. No more romantic illusions! (Well, maybe a few.)

An example of this arose today while attempting to finalize the insurance on the new property. It was only after a couple of false starts with a couple of agents that I gradually recognized that what we really needed were two policies: a first, on an unoccupied dwelling undergoing renovation, and a second, a conventional homeowner’s policy once we take occupancy.

Why was this an awkward paradigm shift in my thinking? I knew we were facing exactly these phases of activity. But partly because their boundaries were fuzzy (we could choose to bunk in the new house, camp-style — any time!), my instinct for flexibility ran up against the much more strict corporate definitions. So yes, I finally admit to myself, we are first renovating, then occupying.

That muscular thinking process is tiring.

Today also saw the first of many Home Depot runs. I escaped for under $500, with new door locks and deadbolts (three sets), a folding stepstool, dust masks, pry bars, a chain and padlock for the Bilco door, lumber, a mailbox, a No Trespassing sign, two sets of self-adhesive reflective numbers for our address, sand, shovels, smoke detectors…

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If I get the mailbox up tomorrow, another PONR. Welcome Home, occupied or not.

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