The busiest day of the year for real estate closings is June 30th, and we were lucky to get the last available appointment slot at the title company, 8:00 a.m. Jeff and I took seats across the table from the seller of the home and her realtor, and the title attorney sat at the head of the table with a stack of papers and a pile of pens. Our realtor, the always-cheerful David Hasslinger, arrived a few minutes later and sat next to me. He put his phone and a suspiciously gifty-looking black box on the table. “Keychain,” I thought, having been through real estate closings before.
We signed and initialed papers for about twenty minutes, then were congratulated by all on purchasing a new home. Our “new” home is actually a very old house on the East Side of Providence. The seller’s big smile indicated that she would not miss the joys of owning an old house. “I love the neighborhood,” was her comment.
David slid the black box over to me and said “Open it.” I lifted the lid and found something to hold our keys: not a keychain, but a beautiful art glass bowl, created by David himself! This is Providence, after all, so it’s not surprising that our realtor is also a glass artist. (A little backstory: David came to RI to get an MFA degree at RISD, married a Rhode Island gal, and stayed, eventually entering a career in real estate). The bowl is stunning, its delightfully irregular whirled edges forming a container for bronze-colored liquid light. On the bottom is David’s signature and a little message to us.
We drove to our new house and carried in the essentials that we brought with us for the weekend: an inflatable mattress, four folding chairs and a coffeepot. We gave Jeff’s parents the all-clear to come over to see the inside of the house for the first time. It was a beautiful, blue-sky Rhode Island summer morning, so we set the chairs outside and sat on the deck chatting for a bit. Joan had noticed that the garage floor was covered in leaves and dirt, and said “I want to do something – let me sweep the garage”. Against our protests, she found a broom and set to work. Joe found a rake and joined her. My parents-in-law love to help their kids, and don’t like to sit around when there is work to do – even now at the ages of 85 and 90! Here is a photo of Joe raking our garage.
David stopped by a bit later to check on us. He asked Joe to take a picture of him presenting Jeff and me with the glass bowl, and showed Joe how to use the camera on his iPad. After much laughter and many retakes, a satisfactory photo was obtained. With Jeff saying, as he always does, “I AM smiling”.
We met our neighbors Amy and Clay that afternoon when they popped across the back yard to say hello and welcome.
Sophie biked over in the evening, and brought us a housewarming gift of two RI-themed mugs from one of my favorite shops, Frog and Toad on Hope Street.
The next morning Jeff walked to Eastside Mart to buy a newspaper. Paul, the owner of this not-typical convenience store, said “Nothing here is expired; everything is fresh! Here’s my card. Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Before heading back to PA for the final round of packing, we sat a few minutes on our folding chairs in the shade, listening to the call and response of a pair of robins in the big oak tree beside our deck. We felt welcome, and home.