As I mentioned earlier in the week, our house is now on the market. This was at least partially intentional, although we had planned to wait a couple more weeks. But you know what it’s like when someone comes into your house and starts talking you into something…
While we’re waiting desperately for someone to want to buy it, we’re trying to keep it in show home condition at all times. The daughter is not keen on this plan, and has taken to pulling out all her toys every time I finish tidying the lounge or her bedroom. Basically, it’s like preparing for your in laws to visit, every single day.
On the plus side, I am happily scouring property websites to find somewhere lovely to move to. The husband, when asked what he wanted from our new home, only supplied specifics about the garden (big enough for a shed, and for the daughter to run up and down until she falls asleep) so I’m assuming that gives me free rein on the house.
I was happily dreaming about actually having a door that closes downstairs, and a little office of my own, until my father phoned and reminded me about the Piano Paradox. Or, in my case, the Dresser Dilemma.
When my parents were house hunting for their current house, some 23 years ago, there were a number of concerns. There was the house my father loved but my mother wouldn’t consider because the bedrooms for us kids were on the ground floor, and she was afraid we’d be stolen away in the night. (Or possibly that, as teenagers, it would be far too easy for us to sneak out and cause chaos…) That particular house still gets brought up by my father, with a wistful tone in his voice, at every family gathering.
Still, once they bought the house, it soon became even more difficult for them ever to move again. You see, they acquired a piano – free, as I recall, from someone down the road – and my youngest brother learnt to play it. And rather than getting bored with it when he hit fourteen, he actually got good at it, passed his Grade 8 exams, and even earned a music bursary when he went to university. The piano was here to stay.
Which meant, of course, that when they started to look at houses again a few years ago, every property they considered had to have room for a piano. The Piano Paradox. Unable to find a house they actually liked with a specific piano location, they decided to stay where they are and remodelled the kitchen to make space for the ironing board instead. (At one point, there were plans for an actual extension, mostly to accommodate the ironing board. The Ironing Board Irony, perhaps?)
Which brings me to the Dresser Dilemma.
When we bought this house, we weren’t even engaged and had practically no furniture. Over the last seven years, we’ve acquired an oversized dining table, ridiculously huge wardrobes, a king sized bed, wedding rings, a three year old, all the toys in the world, a writing bureau… and my grandparent’s Welsh dresser.
I love that dresser.
Originally, I believe, it belonged to my great, great-grandmother. When Great Grandma came to stay with my grandparents at HQ for a weekend in 1954, and then never left, she moved all her mother’s furniture in with her. I’m not sure that Grandma was particularly thrilled by this at first, but over time that heavy wood furniture has become part of the family. My mum now has in her hallway the large chest/sideboard that once sat in the hall at HQ and held the Christmas tree every year I can remember.
The dresser isn’t in the best of states. My aunt tried walking along the back of it once, as a child, and the whole top half fell off and almost killed my uncle (and did kill a goldfish, I think). It landed on the window jam, and you can still see the hole. It’s been repaired in places, and the wood bows and bends in odd ways. But it’s still the one thing in the house that every visitor comments on, and the one item I could never part with.
(That same aunt, by the way, after reading Room for Love, commented on how lovely it was to see the dresser nestled in the corner of the dining room at the Avalon Inn.)
I always say that I’m the custodian of the dresser, rather than the owner. A month before Grandma died I called her for a chat, and we discussed the dresser. Grandma was concerned that, although it was meant for my mother in the will, Mum and Dad wouldn’t have space for it in their house. “Maybe you’d like to have it,” Grandma said, knowing how much I’d always loved it.
When the time came, months later, that HQ was sold and the furniture sent to auction or rehoused, no one had room for the dresser. Except me.
So now, while the husband dreams of a long garden with room to grow his own veg, and the daughter informs every estate agent we meet that she needs a house with a pink bedroom and a really, really pink bike, my main concern is my Dresser Dilemma. Wherever we move to, there has to be room for Great Grandma’s Welsh dresser. Because I can’t imagine my home without it.