Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Four Houses Down - Part Two

I could hear him talking before I got the phone up to my ear. "Laura?"

"Yeah?" I was out of breath. I sat up in bed and tried to clear my throat.
"Is everything ok?" I asked.
The ambient light from the phone-display on my nightstand emitted a halo of blue around my bed. I actually could see my heart beating under my thin, white t-shirt.

He laughed. "Yes, I'm really sorry to call so early, but something just didn't make sense to me yesterday. I felt like we missed something when we were running the numbers."

My house!!
I jumped out of bed and started to pace in a circle, the stretchy land-line phone-cord tethering me to the nightstand.
"I got up early this morning and ran the numbers again" he continued. "Then I sent the results over to my associate so she could double-check before I called you."
I sucked in my breath and held it.
And???  I screamed in my head.
"We did miss something."
What came next was a barrage of words like "tax-provisions" and "estimate-liabilities." While he reeled things off, I tried to sift through all of the real estate and tax language.

Could I buy the house?

"You can buy the house" he said finally.
I leapt into the air and screamed "Yes!"
He laughed out loud.
"Really!?" I said. "Listen, I really, really want this house, but I've had a night to think about it and I want to be smart about this. I don't want to put myself in a hole."
"You won't put yourself in a hole." I could hear him smiling. "You can buy the house".


I buzzed around my bedroom happy-dancing and singing Crosby Stills Nash's "Our House" and Aretha Franklin's "The House that Jack Built" until 7:30am.

Is it still too early to call Brian?
I was staring at my cell phone with my blood pounding in my ears when it rang​ in my hand. Brian!
I don't remember all the words that were said. I know there was an immense feeling of gratitude when he told me that they'd talked it over and they both agreed that the benefits of my living four houses away outweighed the drawbacks. He said they both thought it would be great for the kids. "In fact" he said, "I walked over and saw the house. I think it's a perfect house for you. The bedrooms are really nice-sized. And it's a really great price for this neighborhood."

The longer we spoke, it started to sink in. H​e was excited for me! Now I ​knew that this was a good thing. I felt like I'd just found the next "spiritual breadcrumb" on this leg of my journey. ​ I could afford it and Brian and his wife were okay with it. Now, I had to see if I could get them to sell it to me and not the four other potential buyers who had already put their offers down! Hours later, my mom, Linda, my sons, Miles and Justin and I were pulling up in front of the house. Scottie and his daughters Lily and Nora and our friend Livius were already parked in front. It was 6:00pm and the sun was beginning it's descent in to the horizon, turning the sky above us a pastelish-pink. This was my third trip to the house that day. Scottie and I had come at 10:30 that morning with my broker to present the offer. I came back again an hour later with my friend to get her opinion on the renovation-cost and now I was here for a third time with my family. My kids hadn't seen the house yet. I needed them to be okay with it.

Miles and Justin sailed up the oak tree-lined driveway through the front door looking for "their rooms". Lily and Nora followed closely behind them, gliding their freshly manicured fingers over the moldings and window sills. Lily "oohed and aahed" over the fireplaces. Nora ran from room to room with her arms behind her as if she were in flight. The owners, "John" and "Jenny" were in the kitchen. My stomach growled, alerting me to some amazing smell coming from their oven. ​When is the last time I ate? I had been so busy all day!

I had been to the house so many times already that day it felt like I already lived there, but I faltered before we entered the kitchen. I didn't want to intrude on their dinner time. They welcomed us in and asked us to sit down in the breakfast nook. Scottie and I took a seat and spoke with "John" while Livius (always curious about anything culinary) asked "Jenny" about her preparation-method for her roasted brussel sprouts (​ that's what smelled so delicious!). Through a series of French-style, sliding glass doors, we could see my mom and the kids exploring the backyard. Scottie was explaining to "John" that we started looking in this neighborhood because I wanted the boys to be closer to their dad. "In fact" he said, "their dad and his wife lives four houses up from here!"

John started laughing until he realized that we were serious. He called "Jenny" over to hear Scottie tell it again. She sat down in the nook with us, listening, nodding and laughing. Suddenly she turned toward me, "This is a great kitchen, Laura" she said, her eyes welling up. "We've raised our family right here at this table."

"I love this kitchen" I said, meeting her gaze. "I love this house."

The kids and my mom came piling back into the house. The kids were wide-eyed, with moist skin and bits of leaves in their hair from investigating the giant fig-vine that formed a cave near the back of the property. "We love it" they all said at once. "Miles wants the room on the other side of the house and I want this one," said Justin pointing away from the kitchen. "We love it, mom."

After we'd said our goodbyes, Art, our realtor, walked us back to our cars. "Well," he said "We'll see how it goes. The other offers are all over the asking-price. But they're all from developers who want to flip the house. I think you're the only family who wants to buy it to live in themselves. They said we'll hear from them by noon tomorrow."

I looked at the house once more before I got in my car. Everything felt aligned. I knew that if I got this house it was because it was meant to be mine. I hadn't taken any short cuts, I hadn't manipulated or deceived anyone (including myself). I could honestly do at that moment what I couldn't allow myself to do the night before. I looked up to the now-bluish/black sky and I let the house go.

Later that night, once the kids were in bed, I stood in front on one of my kitchen cabinets with a partially "peeled" string cheese sticking out of my mouth and was grabbing a handful of butter crackers when my cell phone rang.

I looked at the kitchen clock. It was a little after 10:00pm. I gulped a piece of the string cheese whole.
My finger hovered above my phone for a second before I accepted the call.

Was it my house?

"Hi!" I felt like I sounded cheerful but balanced. I hoped he could deduce from my tone that I was prepared for either good news or bad.
"Are you ready for this?" he said. "You've got the house."
"Really, Art?!"

"You've got the house!" His voice was full of joy.
"But how? I thought they weren't going to make a decision until tomorrow?"
"They weren't. But a couple of things put it over the edge for them: first-off, his wife really liked your friend and his advice about her brussel sprouts."

"And two, they loved the fact that your whole family came and you w​ant to live four doors down from your ex-husband and his wife. They want the house to be used and loved. They think you're the family to do it."

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