Chapters

I’ve been thinking a lot about chapters. According to the Mirriam Webster dictionary, chapter has at least three definitions, including this one: period of time that is very different from the period of time before it. The problem is that many times, chapters aren’t easy to define.

2019 was absolutely influenced (read dominated) by the death of my mom in late 2018. Everything that happened was viewed through the lens of my grief. The tasks of cleaning out her house, arranging her memorial, and finishing her estate kept everything at the forefront of my thoughts and actions.

In late 2019, I experienced several cathartic events that made me hopeful that 2020 would be a different experience. Also, around this time, I began working on my show for the Salem Art Association (opening is March 6th!) That’s been another obsessive task that has left me very little time to do anything other than paint and work.

But this weekend, I’m putting the last touches on the paintings before packing them up for transport.

This means that it’s time for me to turn my attention forward. So, it’s time for me to make an announcement.

I’ve decided to move.

When I bought this house, I was looking for something close to work (check) with a first floor bedroom and bath in case Mom ever needed to come live with me (check). Other than that, I was pretty flexible. I wanted a single story, no basement (check), and a parking space (check). In retrospect, I think I was a little too flexible.

This house has been a good house, but it has not been a great house. I have loved the neighborhood and the commute, but the house never really fit into the way I live. For example, when I’ve had a foster dog who needs to work on potty training, it’s been a nightmare of stairs and dashing between rooms. When I’ve been sick or hurt, getting up and down the stairs has been difficult. The house is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, with the kitchen being the hottest area and the living room being the coldest.

All of that was pretty doable. No house was perfect. Then, the trouble started.

This is a picture of my crawl space. There are at least two things of note here. 1) As you can see the vapor barrier (plastic stuff on the ground) is all mussed up. This prevents it from doing its job and therefore there is a lot of water and dirt on everything down here. And to an extent, in the house. 2) There are posts holding the house up.

To make a long, agonizing story as short as possible, after working with three potential contractors (seven if you could the other things I had bid), it was determined to make the crawl space and foundation up to code would be a job over $50,000. This did not include the additional jobs such as bringing the electric box up to code (at least $5,000), a new heating/cooling system ($8,000), and new floors to replace the carpet (obviously optional, but the one thing I really wanted; $10,000).

At this point, I started to run numbers. I had purchased the house right before the market in Salem really started to rise. If I added purchase price to all of the above issues, I would still, essentially, be at market value. But just barely.

Then I started thinking about the stairs, the flood insurance (costly due to location), and parking problems. I ran a second set of numbers and determined that if I sold the house “as is” in its current condition, there was a good chance I could get at least my original money back. Fortunately, I purchased the house for cash, so interest wasn’t a factor. Breaking even would mean I had essentially had five years free rent, which is not something to sneeze at.

Finally, I started to think about not just the inconveniences, but if this house really served me. While it’s location (near my job) was still great, so many other things had changed. I had fewer pets and a smaller family than I did five years ago. I owned an additional home. Could I find a smaller, Salem home that would allow me more time at the beach? Could I turn the beach house into a weekend art studio?

So, I called my realtor. It turns out, she is having her first baby in mid February (probably, baby is now on the ground.) So, we talked about it, and with everything going on my life, we decided putting the house on the market in late March or early April would be the best plan.

I’m trying to think of this as deliberately starting a new chapter instead of thinking about all the things that have ended to make this necessary. But the decision feels very bittersweet.

Where will I go from here? Well, other than a pretty small checklist, I again intend to be flexible; however, last time taught me that my list needs to be longer than two, so here’s a preview.

  1. Single story
  2. Garage
  3. Not in a 100-year floodplain
  4. Open concept
  5. No more than 1500 square feet (about 1000 preferred)
  6. Neighborhood with good sidewalks for walking the dog
  7. Close to work preferred

I think that’s enough to be going on with, at least for now.

With the house being sold “as is” I have no idea if it will be a quick sale or long and protracted (uggg). In the meantime, now that the painting marathon is over, I’m beginning to work my way through the house, deciding on items to sell, take to the beach, or keep with me. No matter what happens, I have time, but I’m hoping a little extra work will make the actual move easier (of course, it won’t.)

So, that’s all the news for right now.

P.S. As a final note, a friend just texted me. I Feel Pretty just got into the WSO Spring Exhibition!

I think I may officially be at my exciting painting news limits!

Comments (2)

  1. Mary Wallace

    So glad you’ve decided to take this New Chapter and embrace all the wonderful change that will be a part of it. I’ll bet it will sell quickly so I’d encourage you to start packing seriously once your show has opened. January was more than the start of a new year for you- a New Chapter in a New Decade! Wishing you every success!!

  2. Janette Skow

    Love your Blog Tara! Excited for your new adventure, and finding a home You and Key will ❤️
    I think you will be happier in a space that is less maintenance, and will allow you more opportunities. There’s something out there waiting for you. I’m excited about your painting and art shows.

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