Since I’ve held the same job for the past ten years, and my husband is self-employed, everything was put in my name. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I split everything 50/50, but in this instance, it was advantageous for us to go through my financials.
If you think about it, it’s pretty messed up, based on the peanuts I make as a social worker. Anyhoo, I put on my big girl panties and signed a whole stack of papers, in exchange for a key to my new, humble abode.
(For the record, I have always hated the expression, “put on big girl panties,” however in this situation, that is what it felt like.)
After the signing, I did a lot of pooping. My intestines were pretty freaked out at the bigness of the purchase. I mean, it’s a house. It isn’t just a scarf I bought on impulse at Target because I was feeling a bit down and wanted something to spruce myself up a bit, you know?
Since I never bought a house before, the whole process was new to me.
The closing happened at the lawyer’s office with the sellers, who were from out of state. They pulled up in a luxury SUV. They looked very well heeled, well dressed, and well rested. They looked like people accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and who can afford to take nice care of their skin and hair. They had bought the house– our house now– for their daughter who was in college nearby. Since she graduated and moved on with her life, they were selling the house.
I felt a bit shabby, parked next to their shiny car in my ten year old Corrolla with the dent in the side from the douche who backed into me in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot then drove off, so I was never able to sue his insurance and afford to get the dent fixed.
We were paying the maximum of what we could afford for this little bungalow, but you could tell it was just chump change for these people. I’m sad to admit it took a little of my pleasure out of the whole process. It felt like we were getting their sloppy seconds.
I wondered if they looked at the rusty dent in my car and felt a little bad. Or maybe they were just happy to get rid of that property. Either way, it made me uncomfortable. I don’t know why their opinion of us, if they even had one, would matter to me. We are good people. We take good care of our kids. We live nicely and respect the planet. We just happen to reside in a part of the country where the standard of living is exponentially high, and where it is really hard to buy a home, even if you are forty, well educated, and employed.
The signing went off without a hitch. The lawyer was an affable fellow who put me at ease. He rambled off a lot of legal jargon, and might have been speaking a language foreign to me. At one point he asked me if I had any questions. I looked at him, smiled, and said, “I have no idea what you just said. But you are smiling, so I am going to assume everything is okay, and just sign where you tell me.”
After about 30 minutes, the lawyer passed some checks around to the realtors and sellers. Then the seller’s agent and the sellers left. I spent another half hour signing, initialling, and generally feeling like I wanted to simultaneously vomit, pass out, and have explosive diarrhea.
Then we were handed a key. One key.
I sat and posed with the key and my husband while our realtor, a good pal of mine, took our picture.
She and my husband had been chatting about the race for governor while I completed the actual signing which made the property mine. So, she posed me with a pen and a page that had a shit ton of numbers on it, made my husband and me smile for the camera. Cheese and snap! The picture came out okay. I look “happy” and my husband looks amused. She emailed me the picture from her phone and I posted it on Facebook. But it felt kind of fraudulent, like the moon landing photos are supposed to be.
I left the signing and went to work. I couldn’t even fake happiness for my friends at work. Some were surprised that I felt so confused, overwhelmed, and let down. Others said it was normal and they felt the same way when they signed on their home. Every conversation ended with me feeling awkward and annoyed, smiling and saying, “Nah, it’ll be okay. It’ll be okay.”
All night I laid awake counting beans, wondering how we would make our mortgage and do all the necessary work in the house. I obsessed about vacuuming up the spiders in the basement so I can put my kid’s legos down there.
We will go into the house to paint and clean and put in shelf paper.
I have the key.
I can go in there now.
I’ve driven past this house a dozen times over the past few weeks, champing at the bit to get in there with my stuff.
And now it’s mine. Ours.
It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay.
Eventually, the house will look and smell like us. It will have our dead skin cells collecting in the corners, and our hairs clogging the drains. It will have our sleepy morning smells. We will fill it with our familiar noises. We will mark it with spilled juice, errant crayons, and muddy sneakers.
At the moment, it feels kind of like I am jumping off a cliff into the unknown, as I take a breath, slip the key into the lock, and open the door to the next chapter of our life.