I'm off to upstate, New York this weekend to see Tristan graduate from Colgate. He's the younger of our two sons and his diploma marks the end of a long journey for us all - not to mention the end of costly tuition payments. (Hallelujah!) Two boys, eight years of college expenses, several cross-country flights, and countless years of love and devotion have added up to this highly-anticipated celebration. Needless to say, I'm an extremely proud mama.
Happily, Tristan has already set up his first "post-college" job at BIRD scooters down in Santa Monica on the "Reliance Team." I'm not sure what he'll be doing for them exactly (I'm not sure he knows either), but after four years of residing in the East, I'm thrilled to have him back on the West Coast once more. For me, New York was just too far away, while LA is a weekend trip. Note to parents, California has some great college campuses to consider. (I'm just sayin'.)
In any case, Tristan's successful "launch" represents a new chapter for my husband and me as well. For the first time in 28 years, there will be no kids in the homestead this summer which means we'll have guest rooms sitting empty. I fully expect it to feel a little lonely. Not that Cliff isn't good company; he is. Funny, smart, still surprising, and the love of my life . . . it's just that motherhood has shaped me more than any other single event and I've truly enjoyed the parenthood train. (Well, most of it; those teen years weren't always a smooth ride.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I met a client for a few showings who is expecting baby number two. She's absolutely resplendent in her glory (the picture of health), but she's definitely ready to resolve the pregnancy and welcome her newest daughter into the world. As such, she and her husband have been diligently looking for a house to begin their next chapter and I'm the one who gets to help them secure it. (What an honor.) I don't think we're going to beat the baby (who is set to arrive in the next few weeks), but we WILL definitely find the right house in good measure.
Whether it's the start of your journey, the middle ground, or the tale end of homeownership, my job as a REALTOR is all about transitions . . . . Admittedly, not all transitions are welcome. Many are met with fear and resistance such as in divorce, unexpected illness, job loss and retirement, or most profoundly, death. Each of these transitions signal a change in our life's circumstances and often represent many people's first introduction to a Realtor. (Nice to meet you, although I wish it were under happier circumstances.) Which is why the celebratory events - marriage, new baby, job promotion, and graduation - are always easier to navigate than those that are far less welcome and unexpected.
But for those situations we gratefully anticipate, May and June are obvious transition months, predicated by student graduations and family weddings. Summer is a fairly easy time to move from one house to another without disrupting the academic year. However, if you think you MUST WAIT to sell your current residence until your upcoming senior graduates, you should look into the rules around "Senior Privilege." This nifty free pass allows you to move with your high school junior in tow, yet retain the rights to have him/her finish school with their classmates, irrespective of where the family now resides. (Transportation to and from campus are on you.) It requires little more than completing the Alameda County Office of Education’s Inter-district Transfer Application and presentation of your child's report card as proof of attendance.
We applied for "Senior Privilege" status for Tristan just before he began his final year at Piedmont High and spent that senior year in a rental property just a few blocks outside Piedmont's borders. So while the home front had definitely been disrupted, Tristan's schooling, friendships and sports didn't miss a beat, nor did our involvement with his school community and baseball team. Had we NOT known about Senior Privilege, we would have been forced to delay, and would have missed out on the unique opportunities presented at the time (like our current home).
But those turn-of-events didn't come about by accident. I'd started prepping our Piedmont home months earlier by giving the kitchen a facelift, addressing the "TO DO" list, repainting where needed, aggressively pruning and planting, and quite literally, "putting my house in order," just in case an early move made sense for our family (and as it happens, it did). Opportunity is preparation realized, or put another way, excellent results are ALL about good preparation.
With this in mind, the premise (or promise) of opportunity is no different for Tristan, OR for any of his classmates, OR any of our kids who've pursued higher education (or something else) and can now collect the rewards of their hard work. (Congratulations to them all.) This weekend marks the culmination of all their time, their efforts and their PREPARATION . . . .
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.