I know in the large scheme of things, this will all seem like an over-dramatic reenactment of some time in our life we’ll totally forget. I know there are bigger worries. I’m reminded daily watching one of my dearest friends stay positive in a high risk pregnancy waiting for a blood clot three times the size of her baby to dissolve. I see my sister face a year without her husband as he gets deployed to Korea. I know my mom is going in for surgery on her shoulder and ultimately her neck where they take a piece of bone from her leg and use it to provide space between her vertebrate.
I get this and I’m thankful that this is not a loss of a person, but a house. As upset as my family is, we keep our perspective and we’re thankful.
I do so appreciate all your advice. I feel so Meg Ryan from “You’ve Got Mail” but with a much worse haircut and much less grace. “Go to the Mattresses” “Fight. FIGHT FIGHT.” The end result may not change, but it will not be because I didn’t try.
I’m armed with some names and a few lenders to try. I know that if anything truly horrid ever happened, I’d come back here and find comfort and support. It’s what you do, “you”, the “interwebz”. But it’s more than that. The community of bloggers jumps at the chance to lift up someone in pain and I will always reciprocate that knowing how much your words have meant.
I read the email at 7AM friday morning. I dropped the phone and clutched my stomach. “Noooo” I could hardly breathe.
It was true, I was sure it was true. My groggy mind tried to form the words. “We lost the house.” I said it out loud just to be sure I was awake.
“We lost the house” Louder now with more force.
“WE LOST THE HOUSE” I ran to the bathroom to get Mr. Flinger who was busy getting ready for a normal day. A regular Friday.
But this was no longer a regular Friday.
He looked boggled, confused, unsure. I began to sob. “Wait, calm down, what?”
Unable to speak I pulled him downstairs and showed him the email. The lender denied us. My credit score fell over 120 points this one month alone. I couldn’t speak.
“It. Was. The. Late. Payment. On. My. Student. Loan.” I chocked.
Apparently, not realizing my student loan didn’t get switched with our other bills to our new bank, I neglected to check it for two months. Two months. Any other two months would not matter. This two months, though, will change our life.
I paid the bill in full on January 8th, 2010. I set up automatic deduction so I would never make this mistake again. I thought I fixed it. I didn’t think twice.
The 60 days will cost us the house. Our house. The house that just Monday we stood in, for only the second time, talking to each other like new lovers. “Doesn’t it feel like we’ve lived here before?” “Yes, what is that? Did we marry in another life and have this house?” The children have moved in according to their drawings at school and home. We’ve made plans for our garden. We have, very much literally, fallen in love, as a family, with this house. The kids have their own rooms. They have a back yard. They look forward to schools with great reputations and parental involvement.
It was surely a dream too good to be true. A gem. Our house.
My husband and I have worked hard to get to where we are. We planned, nearly too well, the order of events. We finished undergraduate school, got jobs, and got married. I finished graduate school before I had our first child. I planned, the entire time, to use my graduate degree to provide a life for my children where their mother was both happy and involved. I followed a passion to get my continued education. My husband passed the creditials for being a professional engineer to better serve his family and work. We continue, planning, to this point. This end. This dream.
This is the year we were to move in to a hose big enough for the children to grow up in, finish school in, bring home boy friends, girl friends and leave for college in.
Our goal, since dating in 1989, has been to be in The House by the time our first child entered public school. Our goal was to provide a stable home for our children in a house we could stay in.
We found that house in October, 2009.
Literally, it was familiar upon first glance and immediately ours in our hearts.
Having a few quiet moments in our house on Monday, I sat, alone, watching the ghosts of the future. I saw my children running in from the school bus. I heard my daughter talking endlessly on the phone up in her room. I saw my parents visit and have enough space to stay after their long flight from Texas and a backyard big enough to house our puppy we are all eager to get.
Ghosts, fleeting hopes, and wishes.
I spent Friday working with our mortgage broker and the Dept of Ed. I called, I cried. I wrote earnest letters begging for help. The difference I’m asking for is simply this;
Remove the 60 day late off my credit, make it 30 days, and I can get the house my family needs.
This window will close quickly. We may not get an extension on this house. If we don’t move fast, our chance for finding any house will be gone as the market rises and the chance to leave our small condo closes. In the words of our mortgage broker, it’s now or in ten years when you recover from this market.
My fifteen year old daughter and thirteen year old son growing up without a backyard and sharing a room. This is the future if we don’t move quickly.
So I called up the chain of command. Three times. I asked, begged, who do I talk to? Who can help me? I just need thirty days marked off my credit. My account is in good standing. I have auto-deduct set up. You will get paid on time. I am sorry. It was a mistake.
I am sorry.
These are the words I choked out to my family yesterday morning. I sobbed, “I am sorry I am sorry I am sorry” as they gathered around me on the couch. The intense pain of knowing I let each and every one of them down was almost too much to take. They snuggled me. They kissed me. My son offered his lovie to me. And I sobbed even harder knowing how hard we worked for this dream and how I had single-handedly destroyed it.
And now I’m begging you.
I have no other choice but to fight for our new life. It is my fault it is gone and it is my duty to fight for it. I am asking, begging, pleading with you. Do you know anyone in the Credit Clearing department in the Department of Ed? Do you know a lender who will accept a 583 credit knowing my husband’s is in the 700’s and mine will return there shortly? We are good people, we pay our bills, we are a family just wanting to do what is best. We work hard to be where we are and will continue to do so. It is who we are.
I will do anything for this dream.
My daughter asked if she could help me. She was confused by my tears. “Moms and Dads cry too?” My children looked lost and afraid. I hugged them. I said they could help. They could help mommy because Moms and Dads are just people, too. We make mistakes. Small, silly, life altering mistakes.
And God I’m sorry.
So my daughter recorded this video for you. It is all she knows to do. I write because it is all I know to do. My husband supports us, loving us even if, in his words, we had to live in a shack and my son offers his stuffed toys because he wants to help. We plea, we beg, we call, and all I can do is hope we get this house in the end.
Mygodmygod, it is our house.
From the archive where I first wrote about finding the house:
Imagine my shock, then, when we go for a drive at our lunch hour to “scope out the neighborhood” we’d ideally love to live, and find our dream.
I’ve never felt this way about a house before.
He clearly never has either.
Or a person for that matter.
We walk around noting the emptiness. We walk all over the grounds, picturing the children playing and each other fixing up the yard. We talk about where we would put the furniture as we peer through the spider-web windows.
It’s so…... “Up” ..... in a way.
The house is ours from first sight. We’re not sure about financing yet, if the foundation is sound, if we can even do this. But for some reason, this particular house, this one time in our lives, there isn’t s spreadsheet, a lengthy discussion, a hesitation.
This one time I got to see my husband fall in love on first sight.
And I was right there with him falling in love, too.
I hope we found our home.
Something tells me this is “it.”
I just know.
Remember the time I said I was going to quit drinking? Yea, that didn’t work out so great. In fact, that lasted roughly a week, maybe.
So I googled, “ALCOHOLISM” because I like to be all dramatic and diagnose myself with things from Dr. Google. It validates every ache and pain and makes me appreciate the fact that I do, indeed, have roughly 4.23 months to live according to some scientific study based on rats in England.
Apparently, though, I’m only a half-assed alcoholic.
Can’t a girl get some pity around here? Jeeze.
This is an approximation of what Google taught me:
Symptom #1: If you googled this because you think you have a problem, you do not have a problem. The sucker with the problem is currently passed out on the couch with no idea he/she may be drinking too much.
Symptom #2: If you forget to pay bills on a monthly basis but it has nothing to do with drinking, just the fact that you are awful at being a grown-up, you can not count that as Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home. Just grow up.
Symptom #3: You work at a computer, therefor you are not using in recurrent situations where it is hazardous (such as operating machinery). If you got pulled over and totally freaked your shit because you had half the legal limit and that is the last time you ever drove after drinking, you’re just a guilt-ridden recovering Catholic. Take a number.
Symptom #4: If you can’t go to a work conference without being a total blabbermouth, this MAY constitute continued use of alcohol despite having social, family, or interpersonal problems caused by or worsened by drinking but really you’re just a putz.
I looked over the rest of the possible symptoms. Again, on a scale of “Holy crap you drunk” and “You drink wine for communion only” I’m about a “Meh”
So, here I am, left with the usual issue I have in life: I’m good enough not to be a drinktard but not so invested to need help.
In the mean time, I’m spending just a touch too much on booze, getting just a touch too many calories from it and, when surveying the last 6 years of my life, have neither gained, nor lost, a single damn pound since the birth of my first child.
I am to alcohol as Mandy Moore is to music.
One day, in my middle age, I will find something to excel at. Even if it kills me.
It’s warm for January. The buds are unsure. The clock says to wait but the weather debates. I notice this as I walk and breathe deeply inhaling the fresh smell of pine and exhaling exhaustion. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
I think about how connected everything is. There is no circle that does not touch another. The trees and the plants, the small town I live. The people I know all know one another. The business I have touches others in my community and the community in which I do business reaches beyond the pond to even more communities.
There is not a single blade of grass in my life that does not belong to the larger lawn.
It is with this spirit that I walk today. I walk the trails that connect my home in the suburbs to my work downtown. I walk with the music I found through an Internet channel, the same channel heard by friends as far away as Australia. I walk with the shoes I got in Vegas with my friend from Oakland and I walk by the road to my daughter’s new friend from school.
This connection, the circle of circles, expands and contracts, like lungs. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” - - Dahli Lama
It is with this quote that I walked today. With the unusual sun on the usual path in the usual circle in which I live. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
*image courtesy of my long time dear friend Nicole.
I was eight when I realized my mom had a best friend. It was one of those moments in life when suddenly my mother was a person to me, not just a mom. It’s like seeing a teacher in the store when you’re a child. A teacher! In a STORE! It stretches your brain to think teachers live anywhere except in the classroom where they wait for you each morning. It humanizes them. Grown-ups: they are people, too?
I had been playing with Dustin, a friend I only hung out with when my mom and sister went to his house. He was OK, but he was a boy. He had a great stack of legos, which I appreciated coming from a non-lego household, but I always ALWAYS had to be Princess Leah when we played Star Wars and sometimes a girl wants to be able to have a light saber is all.
We were leaving Dustin’s house after a rousing rendition of Star Wars when my mom began to tear up. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She sniffled, “Joanne is moving away soon. We won’t have her to stop by her house anymore.” It was strange to me that my mom would cry about this. I was ok with Dustin moving. Didn’t she realize Joanne only had BOYS? No Girls? She sniffled again. “She’s my best friend, sweetie, and it’s hard to have friends move away.”
I learned two things that day. 1. I wouldn’t have to be Princess Leah all the time if I could get Dustin to leave me his Star Wars toys if his new room was too small and 2. My mom had a best friend just like I did.
What the hell.
I wrapped my brain around my own best friend moving. What if she left me? Would I cry? Probably. But she had dolls and cool records. Joanne didn’t have any dolls. SHe had boys. I tried to point this out to my mom but it was futile, she was upset and was sad to see her friend go.
Over the years my mom would tell me, like a record, friendships are squishy, moldable, resistant. People will filter in to your life as you flow along. Some will stick. Others won’t. Life is pliable. Every aspect. Relationships are no different.
I’ve left a lot of friends over the years. I’ve made new friendships that I couldn’t imagine not having in life. But as a mother now, I understand something I would never appreciate until this very moment: my children have friendships based on my friendships. Even if they are a boy.
Friends can part ways for a variety of reasons. Schedules become tight. Family life changes. A move to another area of town makes gathering a bit more complex. But the hardest transition of all is when you suddenly realize a friendship is not enriching your life. To step away from a friend, however many years in to the relationship, is painful regardless of how right it may be. THe children who grew up together, however young they are now, will remember their parents friends. And, as pliable as life truly is, memories form around experiences however brief in time.
It is with sadness and acceptance that I recently understood this reality. It became even more real as I hear of a possible move from a family dear to us. I wonder at times which bothers me more, the knowledge that people may not stick in my life for ever or the fact that I will be OK after all the changes settle?
For as much wonder and goodness as I have in my life, the children who surprise me with wit and kindness, the people I meet who truly understand me, and the future in a job I adore and a house we can grow in, I appreciate how fleeting time can be. However much we strive to hold on.
Anne Lamott tells us, “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.” She’s referring to that inner voice that we hardly ever hear anymore.
Today, take a few minutes to be still and quiet. Listen to your inner voice and write what she/he says. That’s it. Whatever it is that’s in there, let it out.
People participating this week:
Confession: I’ve become a complete lurker. When I first started blogging in 2003, I would comment all over the place. I’d say hi, give a “helpful” reply, leave a little love. You might even say I was a comment whore.
Six and a half ohmygod years later, I’ve taken to reading, nodding, thinking and quickly turning to something shiny that’s about to break in the house as my children rush past mom on her computer again.
I’ve taken to reading your blogs on my iPhone while on the toilet, which frankly, does not lend one to want to paw the keyboard at a device that is usually held up to my face.
So today is the day for you to take the four minutes and leave a comment. Say hi. Let me know you’re still around. Hell, I hardly realize *I* am still around. But I am. Six and a half ohmygod years later.
Not sure what to say? Let me start a story for you. You can finish it up for me. “There once was a hot man at starbucks. Who wore a hat made of wool. He was reading thick books, his beard aids his looks, and he…..”
Or just say hi. I’m cool with that.
I’ll buy you a pony.
Expectations are resentments under construction. - Anne Lamott
The Inner Voice. “Your son needs you. His eyes are so puffy. He needs sleep and your arms.”
The Inner Voice. “You better get your work done on time or you will disappoint. You don’t want to be THAT PERSON. We rail against THAT PERSON. Be a better person at work. What if you had no job? WHAT IF.”
The Inner Voice. “Look at those stay at home moms. They love their kids more than you do. Clearly.”
Logic has no chance. Has no foothold.
My mind is a neighborhood I try not go to alone. - Anne Lamott
The Inner Voice. “You can’t do it all.”
The Inner Voice. “You can do it all.”
The Inner Voice. “But you will fail.”
Reality says my son is here with me, “working” too. His medium is a coloring book, mine is a computer. Together we connect the dots, balancing the impossible.
Reality says we’re fine, the children know they’re loved.
Reality says it’s a constant struggle, a good struggle, a necessary struggle.
Reality says some days will be harder than others.
And in the end, it is all ok. Reality, history, logic, fact. Looking back, it all turned out ok.
It always does.
The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born. Your life, as you know it… is gone, never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life. - Lost in Translation
You know how silly these things are, right? Especially when there’s a list for the list after the list of 50 best mommy bloggers (which, frankly, I am so proud to see so many of my friends on there because yea, I have great taste and it’s obviously all about me), so really this is the list for like, the 51st - 100th best mommy blogger?
Dude. Rawkin’ the Bacon.
See, during this brief moment in time, before word gets out there and people actually take notice that this list exists and that you can vote once a day, I’ve snuck in between two of my most favorite, most adored bloggers out there. The Bloggess and SesameEllis.
Do not ask me how this is possible. I. Do. Not. Know.
What I do know, is that I had to take a screenshot of this before it goes away. I needed something to show off at all the parties I’ll be going to, “Remember that one time? I was the bacon in the SesameEllis/Blogess sandwich?” And people will laugh and say, “ooh, Leslie, you love to toss big names around, don’t ya” and I’ll pull out my iPhone and go, “NO IT IS REAL SEE?”
And when I have no friends left, I will have is this screen-shot to share a glass of whiskey with.
But, seriously, people, what this says to me is that a) mygodthankyou for the people who have thumbed me b) obviously not enough people realize you can thumb more than one person and trust me I’ve thumbed them all and c) I’m the bacon.
Here is my ode to this love sandwich that I just made up on the spot. I do that.
:: clears throat ::
You can be my bread
and I will be your fat
I’ll be the sizzle
in your ratta-tat-tat
I’ve loved you both long time
an honored to be between
I’m full of flavor, artificial and natural
I’m nitrates extra lean.
The next time I go check
I know this won’t be the case
so let me now, so briefly
enjoy this bloggy race.
Bbb-acon I love to be your Bacon.
(that’s the chorus)
You can call me a fanatic
you can call me nuckingfutz
Either way is a-ok!
Just don’t call me cold cutts
I’m your Bbb-acon.. I love to be your bacon.
P.S. You can go vote your brains out for Heather, too, who is leading this with a good solid 1-2 punch as is rightly so. Also, check out the list. Lots of great reads. Find one, love one, thumb ‘em all. Pass it on.
Here’s to being the 54th best blog! heh.
My husband stepped out the door and I kissed him good-bye as he headed to work. It wasn’t an unusual scene, but a new one. This particular day was his first heading back to work after the birth of our first child. I was starting a new job as well, as a mother, taking care of an entire human being that had no idea how to hold her head, move her hands with fine motor skills or even that she had hands at all.
I was home taking care of a screaming sack of potatoes that shit hourly on the hour.
I was mortified.
So I held him a little too long that morning, my husband, in the door of our rambler. “I love youuuuuuu. Have a gooooooooo daaaaayyyyy. Looks like it won’t be too cold todaaaaaaaaay.”
He knew I was stalling. He’s smart like that.
The baby squirmed and kicked in my arms signaling her patience was giving in. Before she could start a full wail, he looks up and says, “Have fun with that! Seeya babe!” and nearly runs to his car before driving off at mock speed.
The baby and I. Alone. For the first time.
We look at each other. Her face contortions like an old man without his morning prune juice. She twitches, looks up at me and farts.
It was the first day in a long string of days colored with similar stories. And, like most first days on the job, the magnitude and simultaneous insignificance of each detailed moment won’t fully be appreciated until many, many, many years down the road.
Five, to be exact.
As I kiss my daughter off to school and begin a new job, an office job, a job without her in my arms or under my feet or clamoring for my attention, I miss that first moment, the ledge where we both stood that morning on our first journey together. And Oh, I miss it.
I always will.
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