06 June 2017

Tremble

I wrote this during our search for a house in 2014.
-

We (d. and me) have been looking for a bigger house, off and on for most of the last six months. We've never owned a home before, or even a mortgage for that matter; lifelong renters, though most of that from family.

We've been among the lucky few in our income bracket - not quite poverty, but not quite not - to have a small but resilient family network that kept us from experiencing the full brunt of our economic lot in life, and we are profoundly grateful to those who came before us who made the decisions, by luck or design, resulting in the lives we've lived.

We decided a while back that in order to get the size house we want, commonly known as a big ass house, on our tiny budget, that we would have to focus on older homes or houses in need of a shit load of work.

We surfed websites, and rode all over our end of the county, and toured a few places, and ruled out at least two dozen dwellings, and were just about to take out toys and go back home defeated when we remembered that there was just one house left that might work, but it was a long shot.

When we started looking, the one last house we hadn't seen had been too close to the upper end of what the bank said we could qualify to borrow, and since we didn't want to borrow as much as the bank wished we would, we had pretty much ignored that one last house.

Back at my desk I looked at the listings website once more and received a revelation. The price of that last house we hadn't looked at had dropped by about 5%, which was still a little higher than we wanted it to be, but we decided that even atheists like us can take a hint from the universe once in a while; so we sallied forth to see the interior, and undersides, and attic spaces, and yard of the rambling ninety-nine year old folk Victorian farmhouse with a sun room addition of Depression Era vintage that we'd ignored for over a month in our initial search.

It turns out to be a short sale, which the realty lady says means it won't qualify for most favored financing status, and will take a really long time to close, and that's okay with us as long as at the end of the ordeal we get the house we want for a price we can afford.

So the realty lady contacted someone, or so she said, and I believe her even though you wouldn't blame me if I didn't, and she asked them if we could come to the house and go inside the house and look under the sinks and flush the commodes, and smell the dust in the basement; and the someone she asked said no.

No? That can't be right. This house is for sale. It says so right there on the website I'm reading and the sign in the yard says so too!

So we asked the realty lady to ask again, and after we asked her to ask again, but before we got an answer, the price on the listing dropped another 5%.

And we got excited, because now the universal force we don't believe in was throwing rocks at our window to get our attention.

And then the realty lady called back and said the answer from the person she asked to let us see inside the house was still no.

That didn't make any sense, since the price was falling roughly 5% every week or ten days. Someone somewhere obviously wanted to sell this house.

We Googled the house, and double checked the county GIS system, and studied local history, and even parked across the street and glared at the lady in the yard, and pestered the realty lady to no end for over a week, and still the answer was no.

"Someone inside the house is sick," the realty lady finally told us that the lady in the house had told the person that she had to ask for permission to let us inside the house to look in it's basement and flush its commodes and smell its dust so we could decide if this was the house for us and I went insane.

How dare someone get sick while the universal force that I'm certain doesn't exist, much less give two shits about me and my family or anyone else because it doesn't exist, but wants me to buy this house?

Fuck!

What else could I say?

So we (d. and me) went back to our tiny, gnat infested, dust filled, poorly ventilated house in the woods, and we sulked, for at least three days.

And while we sulked we read the Googles we had Googled, and we learned that a man, wealthy by local standards, had once lived in the house we wanted to look inside.

We learned that the man had once owned a chair factory in the town that employed more people than actually lived in the town, and that before, during, and after World War II, the wealthy man who owned the chair factory had even been the mayor of the little town.

And I said, "This must be providence, though certainly not divine," because I have often contemplated political office, and plotted electoral coups big and small, and today the current town hall is literally across the street from the former mayor's old house that the universe that doesn't care wants me to buy.

So I got upset, and more upset, and my blood pressure dropped because when I get upset my blood pressure goes down instead of up. Not so-low-I-might-die low, but lower than normal blood pressure in people who don't have high blood pressure.

I paced the floor. I yelled. The dog wished he could comfort me. I wished the dog could comfort me, and my son closed his bedroom door, and I openly lusted for the ninety-nine year old folk Victorian farm house with Depression Era sun room, and then I decided I was finished playing games.

So I called the realty lady and I said, "Ask the people in the house one more time to let us see it, and if they say no again then to Hell with it all."

Ten minutes later the realty lady called back and said we could go inside the house and look under the sinks and flush the commodes, and smell the dust in the basement on Saturday morning at 9 o'clock, but she wouldn't be there because it's time for her vacation. Her assistant could help us, 'but the listing agent says it's rough, so don't expect too much," and there might be some water in the basement, so remember to bring your boat.

Okay, she didn't tell us to bring a boat; I embellished that.

When the appointed day and time arrived, we went inside the "rough" ninety-nine year old folk Victorian farm house with Depression Era sun room and a probably leaky foundation with trepidation and low expectations, and planning to run away from another potential money pit... and instead... we reveled in the slightly wavy hardwood floors and wainscoting, the stained glass gable windows in the attic, and the very dry basement.

We discovered only a tiny trickle of water in the basement despite four consecutive nights of moderate rain, and found no stench of must, mildew, or mold, nor any sign of termites or other nasty beasts, and we said. "Rough? Where is this roughness that we heard about? We don't see no rough."

What we saw was the house we have separately imagined since we were small children, six years and sixty miles apart. Our son picked out a bedroom, and we wondered if the large assortment of junk in the basement and the two-car garage in back would literally weigh a ton, and how many dump trucks would be required to haul it all away, and how much it would cost to put new shingles on the roof.

Then we went home and thought about all that we had seen.

And all that we had seen was as good, and mostly much better than we had hoped to see, having been prepared to once again run away from a house with bigger problems than we're prepared to tackle, and we realized that while we were inside the house looking at it's guts and discovering it's secret attic stairway and cluttered underbelly, the price had fallen another 5%.

And we knew - we absolutely knew - that we have to buy this house, heal her wounds, and strengthen her bones, and paint her pretty, and dress her up in finery, and love her to the end of our days.

Do we dare hope this is not some sick and twisted trick of our minds or the cruel mistress that is our uncaring cosmos?

I tremble at the prospect of it all.
-

Originally posted on red clay blues.