Richard and Penny, our real estate agents, advise us to move out of our house for six whole days. This enforced exile sounds painful, but not as harsh as living in a house while it’s being toured by strangers. During the time we’re away, they’ll organize a blitz, an all-out effort to collect bids from buyers. On our return, if all goes as planned, we will review the bids and choose a winner. The prospect of promptly winding up the sale is promising. The Toronto housing market is ideal for sellers. Prices are high and the house is in perfect order, ready to attract potential owners with its pretty face.
Richard and Penny are an impressive team. Richard is a handsome guy, built like a football player. As it turns out, in his younger years, he was a dancer, not a jock. He taught dance at a university until, as he says, he found there was more money in selling real estate. Penny, his business partner, a fit, petite distance runner, excels in negotiations. Penny is super attentive to every detail. She takes copious notes. Richard, on the other hand, creates an atmosphere of relaxed sociability.
Our first day out of the house is a marathon of endurance. Already exhausted from months of de-cluttering, storing, cleaning and discarding, we pack our bags and hitch the boat to the car. Why the boat? Its 18-foot aluminum hull makes the garage look small. This is our last staging task. Richard waves us off as we pull out of the driveway, boat in tow. Agents’ cars are already arriving to view this hot property.
We head for Kingston, our future home. As it happens, the only available motel room provides us with an immersion course in downsizing: a crash course in living with the one you love in confined space. Since we’ve chosen to move to a house with half the space we’ve enjoyed for 43 years. I try to convince myself that the motel offers the ideal opportunity to adjust to our new lifestyle. I’m absolutely determined to make this a good experience, no matter what happens. As for my partner, he’s beyond being civil and doesn’t share my plan to make the best of our cramped quarters. He’s exhausted. His artificial hip hurts and the abscess on his ankle is throbbing.
There are two beds in our motel room, each covered with bedspreads the colour of dried mustard powder. A two-foot aisle separates the beds. At the foot of the beds, another two-foot passage separates the beds from the lineup of
dresser, bar fridge, square table and two solid armchairs. The TV sits atop the three drawers of the dresser.
For the first day or two, we keep bumping into one another. Just making my way to the bathroom calls for strategy and planning. Harvey always seems to be standing in the narrow space. It’s one-way traffic coming and going.
The bathroom itself is a problem. In my effort to maintain harmony I surrender any space above the bathroom sink. In this tiny, tiled room, there’s no place for Harvey’s shaving kit, except on the top of the toilet tank. I opt for a shelf conveniently placed under the sink. It’s easier for me to bend down that far. Thanks to yoga, I’ve maintained my flexibility. Adapt, adjust, accommodate as the yogis say. Or – am I giving up too much of my space in order to keep the peace?