Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's in the mail

Although you might think from my writing here on this blog I'm endlessly the most cheerful, easy-going gal you'd ever meet, I'm sorry to say it's not always the case. Take yesterday morning. I was feeling the Monday morning blues: overwhelmed, possibly even cynical, definitely testy. I had reasons, but none I want to write about here. My friend the Hot Italian, who really knows her way around a metaphor -- straight up or mixed -- said no wonder I felt like that: Jenga bricks were being added to my already shaky tower.

Perfect metaphor. Jenga tower.

Well, we all feel that way sometimes, don't we? I had work to do to keep that tower standing, so once I'd told the Hot Italian about it and received assurance that I wasn't just being a whiner, I headed over to my new house to paint, not so much looking forward to another solitary day climbing up and down an 8-foot ladder breathing fumes.

I arrived, and as I walked up the porch steps I noticed a small, square box had been left beside the front door. I didn't remember ordering anything with my new address, so I figured it was something somebody had sent to the previous tenant.

Nope, it was addressed to me! That's cool, I thought. My first package at my new house. The return address told me it was from the couple I bought the house from. They live all the way across the country, so I've never me them. I certainly didn't expect a package. I stuck it under my arm, carried it in and set it on the fireplace in the parlor.

I changed into my painting clothes, still feeling pretty low. I flipped on the lights in the dining room and made a mental list of everything I needed to get done. It was long.

I was going back into the parlor to turn on my CD player when I saw the box on the mantle. How did I forget my first package in my new house?

I grabbed it and headed to the kitchen where I'd left my box cutter the day before. When I walked in, I had to smile, just a little. When I'd left the night before we were under a tornado warning. The day had been gray, rainy and windy -- a keep all the lights on kind of day. I think I'd carried that turbulent weather into the next day.

So I didn't expect the dazzle of sunshine streaming in through the big windows in the kitchen, shining off the blonde cabinets. I found a warm patch to stand in while I slit the tape on the box.

Inside I found a pretty navy blue bag tucked into a nest of brown wrapping paper. I pulled it out slowly, just to make the unwrapping last.

I'm not going to bore you with my slow unwrapping of the contents. Inside I found 14 keys to the house. I was delighted. I'm always afraid I'll lose all my keys. I'd already had 6 more made in addition to the one the realtor gave me. Now I have 21 keys, even though all the locks on all the doors are keyed the same. Now I know I won't run out of keys. I think I might have one of them framed.

I also pulled out a garage door opener in a zip-lock bag. I haven't tried it, but I'm sure it operates one of the 3 garage doors. A artful rubber stamp with the address of the house on it, for stamping the return address on envelopes. A box of gourmet chocolates flavored like classic cocktails. (It was like they knew me! Booze-flavored chocolate!)

And a hand-written note that said they wanted to congratulate me on buying the house, and to assure me the house was a good old house. They gave me some helpful tips for routine maintenance and wished me luck.

I stood right there in my new kitchen and cried. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. It felt like more than a package from two people -- strangers, and yet not strangers -- that I now share a history of ownership of this house with. It felt like a sweet, kind reminder from someone out there in the ether that everything was happening just as it should. And I was standing exactly where I was supposed to be standing: in a bright patch of sunlight in a beautiful Victorian house that's been sheltering people for almost 140 years in a city I love. So close to the heart, I can walk downtown if I want to.

Isn't it funny how an unexpected kindness can jolt you out of the Monday blues? That's what happened. Suddenly I was ready to get busy ... those rooms weren't going to paint themselves.

When I finally quit at about 8:00 pm, my shoulders aching and my stomach complaining, I realized I hadn't given much thought to my shaky Jenga tower all day. One simple act of kindness, and I once again had faith that my Jenga tower was going to be just fine.

There's nothing that can't be fixed with a lifetime supply of keys and a box of chocolate.


  1. First, congratulations on your new home! I understand your post well. A simple act of kindness can turn your day around or at least bring comfort. I have been having a rough time lately with house repairs and the office (main issues) and the other night I got a letter with a tea bag enclosed from a pen pal, and it was just a kind gesture when I felt fragile. I had my tea and sat down with pen and paper and felt better. Enjoy your home!!

    1. Thank you. It's really exciting to buy a house, but also pretty scary.

      I understand how a teabag could turn your mood around. It just doesn't take that much sometimes to remind us that the world isn't entirely hostile. Even a teabag can do it. That's one thing I miss about getting real letters. For some reason, an email or a Facebook message doesn't convey the same care most of the time.

  2. that's really lovely. a wonderful thought and a wonderful ceremony for passing the keys (literally) from one home-family to the next one.

    1. And it's rare. Usually the key-passing is done at closing and the relationship is over. I like that there's been overlap.

  3. I love the Jenga tower reference. I'm going to have to use that one. I frequently use a "whack-a-mole" analogy with parents I work with...I might just have to start a whole set of game metaphors. Challenge accepted.

    (I loved this post, by the way. It made me smile for you). :)

    1. Thank you. I'm going to save that chocolate to eat the first night I sleep in the house. It needs to be part of that ritual.

      I can't wait to hear your game metaphors. Let me know what you come up with.