All the world's a staged (house)
Posted May 8
In honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death last week, I decided to stage not a play but a house.
Putting a house on the market is truest theater, the kind even the great Bard would be proud of.
Like opening night at the Globe, we set the stage with precision and timing, plus lots of decorative pillows.
The blossoms on our many trees unfurled their pink and white tresses about 10 nanoseconds after we plunged the For Sale sign deep into the front lawn.
With a snap of the fingers, robins filled the trees and bunnies hopped languidly, as if on cue, across the backyard.
And that’s just the scaffolding of this great production.
Inside the house, we’ve used theater tricks of the best kind. It’s amazing what you can piece together with a few rubber bands, some duct tape and wood glue. We’ve emptied closets, spackled holes, painted our fingerprints away. I’ve worn my way through an entire case of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers just on the interior closets.
It may be madness, but there is method in it. No buyer wants to be reminded that actual people live in the home, which leads us to adopt extreme measure.
My kids have been shocked at my pronouncements: Don't touch the walls, or the family room furniture (those perfectly coiffed pillows!); Don’t walk in the basement (the perfect vacuum lines!); try not to eat (the mess!); and since we just had the carpets cleaned, levitating up the stairs would be the best option.
Some children are born into cleanliness. Others must have cleanliness thrust upon them.
We get a text exactly one hour before each showing. That’s one hour to move heaven and earth out the door before the potential buyers show up.
The frenzy is like the last-minute scramble before a curtain rises onstage. I run from room to room, making sure every curtain is straight, every bed wrinkle removed, every surface polished like a jewel. I haul four laundry baskets out to the trunk of the car with bath mats, dirty socks, damp towels and pots and pans.
It’s an illusion, of course, sound and fury, signifying nothing, much like what we see on the Internet these days. In fact, perched on a ladder and wiping out light fixtures the other night, I heard my husband mumble, “I blame Pinterest for this.”
From how we dress our kids to how we style food on our plates, we’ve come to expect the often-messy details of our lives to look as rosy-hued as a celebrity Instagram post.
We hope the house sells soon (due to the challenge of levitating and all). We know when it does, without the ever-present eye of potential buyers, entropy will begin its stealthy creep, like the worst of Shakespeare’s villains.
The laundry baskets will return. The dirty socks will work their way back under the bed. The paperwork (oh, the paperwork!) will pile up on the desk in the office.
And we will sign away our home, the stage upon which childhood has been played out through a hundred pillow fights, lemonade stands, pizza parties, bedtime stories, piano practices, backyard campouts and marshmallow roasts.
So while I may strut and fret this hour upon the stage, it’s the parting with our beloved home that is the sweet sorrow, the stuff of dreams and memories.
Leaving it all behind, that too is a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare.
Tiffany Gee Lewis runs the website Raise the Boys at raisetheboys.com, dedicated to rearing creative, kind, courageous and competent boys. Follow it on Instagram and Twitter at raisetheboys. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org