Many of you have been privy to the Heironymous Bosch-like odyssey that is my attempt to find a home. You've watched with detached bemusement as my realtor Joel showed me more properties than a Monopoly marathon and listened as I whined like a little bitch about my neighbors, who look they just staggered in from a casting call for "The Hills Have Eyes III". For those of you who have stuck around in spite of (or because of) my puerile theatrics, I thank you. I understand that listening to my housing trials and tribulations has been more depressing than listening to Morrisey read "The Bell Jar", but I promise that the end is nigh. For you see, on Sunday, I bought a house.
Buying a house in this bipolar market is a little like betting on a back-alley cockfight.*
*Except. . .you know. . .with fewer Mexican prostitutes and more chance you'll get your ass pounded like a prisonyard narc.
And sadly, while I am a single working woman of the new millennium; bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the. . .well, I don't actually cook, but you get the general idea. Anyhoo, while I seem to have very little difficulty navigating the stage-4 rapids of adulthood, when it comes to buying a home I am more out of my element than Alicia Silverstone on all-you-can-eat night at Sizzler. But, thank the Baby Jeebus that I have a realtor who's known me for the better part of thirty years and is therefore smart enough to not let me eat alone at the grown up table quite yet.*
*Joel was actually my sister's senior prom date in high school and my Lambda Chi neighbor in college. We love you long time, J.
After months of pounding the proverbial pavement, Joel and I were gradually becoming discouraged. But as I am of the firm belief that if you put enough good energy out there it eventually comes back to you like some karmic Goodwill, we soldiered on, undaunted. And then. . .one day. . .there it was. Tucked away against a greenspace, surrounded by glorious pine trees and a mere half mile from both my children's school and the drive-thru Starbucks. Three bedrooms, two and a half baths of spacious 2200 square feet beauty.*
*I understand that 2200 square feet might not sound huge to many of you but when you've been living in a apartment so small it makes Saddam's spider hole look like the Kennedy Center, your perspective alters just a scootch.
Of course, as many of you know, pulling the trigger on a new house is the fun part. The myriad bureaucratic shenanigans that ensue? Not so much. You would think that with the massive amount of crazy I've encountered in my life I'd be less shockable than a discount joy buzzer, but you would be so very, very wrong. I was ill-prepared for the lengthy paper trail that was to follow, and many's the time over the last 48 hours where I've been compelled to hide under my desk and rock back and forth in the fetal position until the bad voices in my head go away.
First, there's the loan approval. I was pretty lucky here because, (a) my homeboy Joel hooked me up with mortgage brokers extraordinaire, Tammy and Lisa. . .*
*These girls are rad as shit, yo. Seriously, if anyone's buying a house in P-Town, let me know. I can hook a bruthah up..
And (b), my credit rating is higher than Tommy Chong at 4:20 so the mortgage peeps were all over me like Warren Jeffs on a Girl Scout. Unfortunately, even if you're approved, there is a requisite amount of dickery that ensues that can make you stabbier than a Manson youth at a Beatles concert. I don't understand why mortgage companies make it so difficult. I'm basically willing to risk being homeless in order to give them all of my money and be their bitch for the next 30-40 years of my life and they aren't sure if they can "approve" that? What Paul Allen School of Business are these people operating from? Just leave the door open a crack and I'll slip the money onto the nightstand; let's not make this any dirtier than it needs to be.*
*Again, this is not the fault of my mortgage chicas who made the experience as painless and streamlined as possible. Have I mentioned how rad they are? Because I love them mad hard and I kinda want to have a slumber party with them and braid their hair and prank call Joel. I'm just sayin'.
Once we got the mortgage loan rate locked and loaded, then began the paper trail. Bank statements, investment portfolios, divorce decree, child support payments, tax returns. . .You know, it's a disturbing thought that all it took was three signatures and a drunken poker game for the U.S. to acquire Louisiana and Alaska, and it's taken me enough paperwork to bury a Chilean miner just to acquire a 2200 square foot home. But as I am nothing if not dedicated, I amassed the requisite forms and am tucking them securely in their UPS return envelope even as we speak.
Now we are embarking on the inspection phase, which makes me edgier than a TSA agent at the Tehran Airport. I know the house is solid, the windows are double-plated, the roof is brand new and I haven't seen Craig T. Nelson running around outside screaming "You moved the headstones but you left the bodies!!!" But there's still that panicky feeling that one whiff of radon or a wily sewer gator will send the whole deal south.*
*Personally, I'm less worried about carbon monoxide and asbestos and more worried about any bodily fluids the current residents may leave behind. I'm just enough of a germophobe that I'm apt to go tearing through there with a blacklight like Gil Grissom on crystal meth, hunting out DNA samples like it's an episode of CSI: HGTV.
And have I mentioned how expensive it is to close on a house. Ho. Ly. Crap. First of all, as many of you know, I ama Republican which means that I love money. L-o-v-e it. And as such, I'm a cheap bastard. Trust me, I start screaming like Christina Aguilera passing a gallstone if I have to pay an extra 35 cents on Kotex so the thought of shelling out $200 for someone to walk through my house, nod, and say "Well that'll cost you another five grand" makes me lose my shit faster than a toddler with a rotavirus. So these days I'm putting in as many hours as possible at work and taking on some additional writing projects on the side; working my ass off like some female remake of Glengarry Glen Ross.*
*Ooh! They could call it "Glengarry Glenn Close". No? Just me? OK, never mind then As you were...
It is my fervent hope that once closing costs are paid my children won't be huddled in a furniture-less home gnawing on a wedge of gub'ment cheese, but hey! We've been through tougher times together, so this shouldn't be a huge bump in the financial road. And the less furniture we have, the less to move, right?*
*Although, when the time comes, I doubt that the actual move will take long as, if my random acts of inanity are any indication, I have very little upstairs.
For the last three nights I've been waking up with an overwhelming sense of "HOLY SHIT!!!" Not because I don't feel I made the right decision, not because I don't think I can handle the responsibility, but because it all seems so. . .grown up. I feel a little humbled and bewildered by the process but am blessed to have people around me who have been down that road and are ready with a warm hug, a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and a good sewer inspector. And, of course, every time I start bemoaning my first world problems, I have that one friend who invariably reminds me that in most parts of the world women aren't even ALLOWED to own property and then I feel like an even bigger asshole. Thanks for that, Kelly.
This weekend is the final inspection. The last chance to duck and run. But while my inner child is cowering in my chest whispering "Dude, you are SO not ready for this", my inner adult is telling me "It's time". When I got divorced five years ago I never dreamed that I would go back to school and complete a graduate degree, I never dreamed that my children would blossom and thrive as they have, and I certainly never fathomed that I would one day be able to stand in a home and say "I did it. It's MINE".
I love the smell of escrow in the morning. It smells like. . .victory.