imaginary estate


    If you want to sell your house, they say,
    make it look like you don’t live there.
    People can’t imagine themselves living
    in the space if you are still present.
    I don’t know how to disappear, I say.
    I can’t erase myself as I leave every day.
    How can I leave this house to someone
    without imagination enough to see it?
    Just three years shy of one hundred,
    our house stands on stones and stories;
    it can’t be a blank slate anymore than
    we can act like we don’t live here.
    Our laughter and longing have colored
    the walls and settled into the carpet.
    Our feet have worn down the stairs;
    our hands have fixed what we have broken.
    Real estate is measured in square feet;
    the imaginary estate belongs to those
    who can see themselves sharing space
    with all who helped build their home.



    1. I loved this.

      A couple years ago, when we were looking around to try to find our starter home, I wrote about looking at houses that smelled of new paint and cinnamon, because all the walls had been painted cream and someone had boiled cinnamon sticks to make it “smell like a home”. Drove me nuts.

      And I still live in an apartment where the hall smells like a home – Old Bay when the neighbors have crab, and curry most days, and pizza and fried chicken in the elevator…

    2. Milton, I have been through “staging” a home TWICE and I really hated it. It feels sad to sit around in a bland “model” house for months waiting for it to sell – never being comfortable or at home.

      Your prose is BEAUTIFUL.

    3. I love this line “our house stands on stones and stories” – I don’t own a home, but I have a table that has been host to countless conversations, struggles, joys, tears, boredom . . .

      Nice to meet you at Writer’s Island.

    4. I really like this! It sounds like your home has incredible energy in it and lots of love. I love the line “How can I leave this house to someone/ without imagination enough to see it?” Right on. Let them look somewhere else. And I love the distinction you made between real estate and the imaginary estate.

    5. just moved and it never felt quite right running out so they wouldnt have to see people lived there, then again maybe it was cause i didnt want to leave, and still wish we hadnt. beautifully written tho, good luck with your house and wherever your journeys take you.

    6. Amen. I was just watching some show about how to sell your home and you’re right. people try to make them like show homes.

      oh well.

      Hey, you’re living in an old home again? I remember the row house in Boston, of course. What personality that home had!

    7. Written as only someone who values the spirit of a home and who has a home for sale! And as someone who presently also has a home for sale I especially appreciate the line, How can I leave this house to someone
      without imagination enough to see it?

      Somtimes, before a showing, I intentionally leave something in the house just so the prospective buyer knows that real people with real lives live in this home.
      Thank you!

    Leave a Reply