The seller accepts my offer over all the others. Even cash from investors, higher bids from FHA borrowers, and promises of covering closing costs do not beat me out. It is a strong offer with 20% down, but the letter my realtor writes is the golden ticket. She paints a picture of Bug and me, growing up together there in that exact corner of the planet.
The record kicks up to 78 rpm. The lyrics are a high frequency tumult. The homeowner, gun shy because her last two buyers had their financing fall through at the 11th hour, is in a kerfuffle. She has something else waiting, it seems. This has taken her months longer than the overheated market promised. She wants the sale to be settled by the first week of December and to be moved out by the holidays.
Push, push, push. I take a breath and tell my realtor I’m sorry, but everyone will have to wait. I need to sit with this possibility for a day or two and let it work its way through my bloodstream. I also have to finish up my week at the office, pick up my son from school, and get some sleep. The homeowner needs an answer yesterday. I understand she is frantic, but she will have to wait a few more tomorrows. If she wants fast, an investor will fork over $200 grand in cash and then lease the place out to the next sucker who will pay twice the mortgage in rent. I don’t say this, of course. I just remind myself to be kind yet firm.
I am in a kerfuffle my own self. Buy now and take on the cost of the commute? Hold out for that phantom place closer to Tee and my work with half the square footage for a mere $40,000 more, all while risking losing out on these bargain-basement interest rates?
Between idealism and practicality, how does a person hit the sweet spot?
This place is cozy and light. It has big bedrooms, a fireplace, a yard with promise. It is on a bus line with transportation to my metro stop. It is near the Korean Spa that I love. It is walking distance to a supermarket, a library, and a park.
The living room is so narrow, I whine to myself. I want a place closer to the metro. Something with woods nearby. A basement. A guest room.
I slow down and consider what this new life is teaching me. Hell, my six-year-old has this stuff figured out already. Have I not learned anything in the past two years?
Wants: Acres of open land. A toolshed and workshop. A ten-minute walk to the office. A basement dance studio.
Needs: A safe neighborhood. A quiet bedroom. A reliable way to get to work. A place for my son to learn, play, and grow.
Back and forth in myself, the longing for what is not (yet) within reach swings and clangs. The wanting makes me curl my lip at this beautiful opportunity to fulfill my family’s needs.
Between spoiled and growing up, how does a person hit the sweet spot?
We have the inspection scheduled for Thursday. She was pushing for Tuesday, but both the inspector and I carved out a few more days. Once we are finished digging around under the carpets and behind the hot water heater, I will have three days to make a decision. Barring any issues in financing, I could be on my way to home ownership by Thanksgiving.
Seven months ago, I was still sure that I was trapped in dire financial straits with no ladder in sight. The era of staying at home with Bug, following Tee’s vague career trajectory from one time zone to the next, and eventually divorcing had reduced my financial and professional foundation to rubble. I clung to an image of myself hefting one broken stone at a time back onto something resembling a wall with no blueprint in hand and all the pieces on the brink of toppling again.
That was not what was happening, of course. Six months ago, I began to realize that the story I was telling myself was doing a better job holding me back than my circumstances were:
If my paycheck is sufficient to support Bug and me in our own place, I might actually have to get off my frightened ass and make the leap. I claim I ache for a home. A Place of Our Own is my official Red Ryder carbon action 200 shot range model air rifle. But maybe I don’t entirely trust myself to manage alone. If I wake up to find that possibility under the tree, will I shoot my eye out? Having enough would, after all, mean the end of this recuperative chapter in the suffocating security of my parents’ nest. Might it be that the truth of my terror is not in being stuck but in becoming unstuck?
And so. The bank agrees to loan me many thousands of dollars, my department pushes through a small raise, the realtor helps me squeeze into the two-day window when my crush of a house is back on the market, and BOOM!
The seller accepts my offer.
Wants: Ice Cream, popsicles, jellybeans. Gingerbread cottages. White knights. Happily ever after.
Needs: Water, trees, shelter.