All politics is local, as Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously and ungrammatically observed. Which is my way of saying that I have been absent from this blog because of a very local matter – preparing our apartment to be shown to prospective buyers. The market is very weak just now, so our real estate agents [a mother and daughter combo] have made it clear that the apartment must be made to look pristine, which is to say uninhabited. Susie and I have spent a frantic five days throwing things out, taking vast quantities of clothing to Good Will, and generally clearing from surfaces every tschotshcke, every memento, every half-empty box of tumeric or cilantro, in short everything that makes a house a home. We shall not be here when the apartment is “shown,” as they say, which is just as well because I would be hard pressed to restrain the urge to shout “If you don’t like it the way it is, you can just get the hell out of here,” which is not, as I have learned from reading that great work, The Art of the Deal, the best way to close a sale.
This experience has given me some insight into the behavior of our prehistoric ancestors, who, Archeologists tells us, buried their dead with weapons and cooking implements. This has rather sentimentally been interpreted as an expression of love for the dearly departed, sending them to the next world with a starter kit for their new homes. But I now have a rather more realistic interpretation of the evidence. I think what happened was this: The living dug a hole for the dead, and then thought to themselves, “Why waste a good hole? Let’s get rid of some of the stuff that has been lying around in the back of the cave cluttering up prime sleeping space.”
Are Susie and I done? As if!, as the young, I am told, are wont to say. But we can anticipate a moment, several weeks from now, when the apartment will be ready to show. At that point, we shall start living like Tinker Bell, without making a mark or leaving a stain on anything we touch. I hope the buyers, God willing there are some, appreciate our efforts. But probably not; they will just have gone through the same exercise themselves. There has got to be a better way to handle this business of changing homes, but I cannot for the life of me see it.