After negotiating with contractors, I enter our house to discover that the painter has selected a different color for our living room. Confused by the 1960’s hippie sea-foam green that leads to the back of the house, I walk down the hall to the family room. The deep, dark brown walls contrast drastically with the ocean-like entry, and I look up to see that the border consisting of ads from the Chicago transit system have not been removed. The border flashes giant life-like ads for cigarettes, tropical travel destinations, flavored lattes, gas stations, and teeth whitening.

The house does not look like ours – no graduation photos, no frig covered in reminders and invitations to upcoming events, no running shoes, no reading material, no fingerprints. The contemporary, chrome-like feel looks like a layout in a recent interior design magazine – beautiful and sleek, not the earthy, worn home of our five children.

Our realtor enters, and I wonder out loud why the border hasn’t been removed as it flashes Kate Beckinsale’s smile from the cover of a fitness magazine.

The realtor looks me straight in the eye and gently says, “You must have forgotten to ask the painter to remove the border. I have to tell you, you will never get your money out of this house with that living room color. In fact, this house will never sell unless you make some major upgrades.”

Visions of renovating bathrooms, replacing screens, painting floorboards, selecting shower heads,  and purchasing pewter doorknobs swirl in my head. The endless to-do list grows longer. Overwhelmed with uncertainty about upcoming changes, I break out in a cold sweat and toss my covers off. I open my eyes and look around the plain cream colored apartment bedroom.

“Thank you, thank you,” I say to the walls that are not mine.

PTMD – Post-Traumatic Move Disorder – strikes in the middle of the night.


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