Opinion: Why, oh why, did I sell that house?

Nancy Ohanian

Before the pandemic, we moved. Our thought was to downsize and cut expenses as retirement approached so that we could travel not only to London and Rome, but to Woodstock, Vt., and Portland, Maine.

True, in May 2018 we went to Milan, Italy, but then the next year things began to change in ways we did not anticipate. That year, instead of Barcelona, I took short stays at Saint Francis and Hartford hospitals. One morning, while out for my daily run, I could not breathe. Off in an ambulance I went for a valve replacement and while in the hospital discovered I had kidney cancer. So much for seeing the world.

Then, during my final semester as a college professor, the university switched to online-only classes after the 2020 spring break: an odd and disconcerting way to end. I had thought that the following fall I would teach a single course at another nearby university as a gentle transition into retirement, and I could see if the grass is greener elsewhere; if students differ place to place. But that was not to be. My doctor advised against my participation in any on-campus work, and the hybrid model — partly on campus and partly online — was, I thought, unfair to students as well as ill-advised for me.

So here we were (and still are) in our park-side condominium without a place to go in our relatively new retirement due to this ongoing pandemic.

And as it goes on and as the radical right continues to deny common sense as well as the best science, I have on occasion bemoaned the sale of that house with its artful design and colorful paint scheme, and a floor cloth hand-painted by a Vermont artisan, and the Hitchcock dining room set that we had (until we moved) for almost all the years we lived in Connecticut. Then, too, that lovely house had a full basement, oversize garage and large backyard.

If only I could have foreseen the pandemic! If we had stayed in the house, then I could have constructed something (I can’t imagine what) on the basement workbench. Maybe I would have painted the inside of the garage. It hadn’t been painted since it was built in 1963. And in the yard, I’d plant a garden and, as the song says, watch it grow. Look at the red of those tomatoes, the green of those green beans.

And as for travel, at this point I think I’d rather continue to stay put here in Connecticut than leave on a jet plane anytime soon. In high school, I did captain the wrestling team, but that was long ago and we wrestled on a mat in the gym and not in an aisle at 30,000 feet.

In the old house, we had commissioned major renovations, including a grand new kitchen. The contractor had taken it down to the studs, knocked out walls and built it back with the very best of everything. I can smell the chicken roasting even now.

Dennis Barone is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford.