MONDAY, January 4 – In the end, it was a joyful occasion: the actual closing on our new house. The boys were excited and enthusiastic and their mood rubbed off on me. I felt thankful for this since I had woken up this morning with a strange feeling, conscious of the bizarre day that lay ahead.
After a final inspection, we were off to the notary public by bike. The seller is, himself, a widower. His wife had owned several apartments in Amsterdam which he is now successively selling. The word closure has a double meaning. What I kept telling myself as I was getting dressed was something that our American real estate agent had impressed on us after we’d sold our house there.
‘When all is said and done, the sale of a house is no more than a transaction.’
In other words: forget all the memories and emotions that lie hidden in your house. The new occupants will replace them. They’ll look at the rooms, closets, kitchen and bathrooms with different eyes. What takes place during the conveying of a house is that two parties sign their names on a pile of documents and that one party hands the other a check. It is a transaction, pure and simple.
But this morning such a down-to-earth approach proved to be a bit much for the boys. We had barely taken our seats at the large wooden table in the stately office of our notary public when they began to get itchy. I sent them out into the hall and suggested they occupy themselves with their iPhones. Luckily they quickly complied, since I had a premonition about what was to come.
On the first page of the contract, at the bottom, was a painful piece of text the notary was about to read aloud, and that was gonna hit me like a sledgehammer. Officially, this is who I am:
Mr. Thimotheus Henricus Maria Overdiek, residing at 1077 DN Amsterdam, Gerrit van der Veenstraat 37-11, born in Tilburg on the second of April, nineteen hundred and sixty-five, legitimating himself with his passport, number X, issued in Amsterdam on the ninth of June, two thousand and nine, unremarried widower of Mrs. Jennifer Mary Nolan and not presently or previously registered as partner, who intends to take possession of the above mentioned house, henceforth known as ‘the buyer’.
‘The buyer’ had tears in his eyes when the notary came to the passage in question. He was handed a glass of water. The procedure was resumed. The boys came back just in time to witness the signing of all the papers pertaining to what was both a transaction and a joyous occasion.