And Then It Happened!

(This entry is about August 10th, 2018.) We closed on the house! The day we were shooting for was August 15th, but the banker suddenly decided August 10th was better,  and was that okay? The response can never be “No” to a question like that, but luckily Tim had the day off work anyway. I begged off an hour early so I could be there for the proceedings, since the closer couldn’t come at 1, but could come at 12.

I understood that we were meeting at the real estate agent’s office at noon, and arrived about 2 minutes late. She came out, and said I should be at the other real estate agent’s office. But, I parked next to Tim’s car? He walked across the street. Small town. She pointed the way, and asked me to text when we were almost done.

I crossed the street, too, and found Tim in the back office, making awkward conversation with a lady from Waterloo who wore a lot of jangly bracelets, and the thinnest watch I had ever seen. Seriously, it had an analog face that was at least an inch wide, but was no thicker than my watch’s band. Remarkable.

She also had us sign quite a lot of papers that can’t honestly be remembered. My sister joked about practicing my signature, and Tim joked about signing his life away, and we talked about how much of a process it was. But at the bottom of the stack of papers, there is a deep well of waiting. You sign the mortgage application, and the real estate agent’s secretary faxes it in, and only then do those shifty bastards actually consider your application. And you get to wait there for five minutes or ten million years before a response is faxed.

This is why they say, even if you’re approved to buy a house, don’t buy even so much as a very large toaster oven until you actually close. These guys who have been leading you along for a million years with pre-approval bullshit don’t actually process it until you’re sitting in a stranger’s office with everything you have to offer for the next 30 years hanging on the line.

Somewhere in that waiting period, I texted our real estate agent and she came across the street to visit. The hosting real estate agent also made an appearance, and eventually ushered in the sellers. They came to sign a few papers of their own from the thin-watch lady, give us the keys, the garage-door-openers, and some anecdotal advice, and chat casually about the buying-and-selling adventures of everyone who was not us.

Tim and I were and island of inexperience among these seasoned veterans who talked about their progress on buying and selling homes. Someone was either buying or selling or remodeling everything. We smiled and listened, and made inane Midwestern-small-talk comments to seem friendly, but mostly just waited. They were joking about how the guy was drunk when his wife had shown him their current house. The real estate agent thought all husbands should be drunk when visiting houses, so the wife could get what she wants. We just wanted a fax back about whether or not our mortgage application was approved.

Seriously? This late in the process, after six months of submitting every possible piece of evidence of our history, income, family, potential, every shred of information, no matter how many separate time the same piece of evidence was re-requested and given… Only now, they’re processing?

After an eternity, the response came back. We were approved. We signed the last paper, collected the keys and garage-door-openers from the sellers, had a little awkward stranger-celebration, and finally escaped out the door and across the street to our cars, where we could take a breath.

Our real estate agent followed us across to her office and congratulated us both, gave us a gift, insisted on a hug from me, and then retreated to her office.

I held a handful of garage-door-openers and keys. Tim and I glanced at each other. “Want to go look around?” I asked. Of course he did. We jumped in his car together and drove up to our new house. We pulled up in the driveway and tried out the openers. They opened on a garage that was not just big, and safe, and beautiful, but ours. The house key unlocked a side entrance that led to a beautiful kitchen that was next to a very nice dining area, that was around the corner from a living room that led upstairs to sleeping rooms that were ours. It was ours. It is ours.

The raspberry bushes in the back yard surprise me every day.

Tease me later for being in a honeymoon phase, but in this moment I feel like… I finally have the key tool I need to make something that can nourish, protect and sustain my entire family. A home base. Our home base. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn great. We can paint the walls without having to get permission. Hell, we can move a wall. We can fix something without feeling that a landlord will demean our effort. We can improve something without losing the investment.

Most importantly, we can dream and hope.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve owned this house for less than a month and already found a couple of major problems, a few challenging situations, and a number of concerns for the future… But, it’s a future. And a hope. And more than anything else, that’s what we need.

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