It was a moment, an instant when the urge struck me. I looked at the door to our balcony, the blinds drawn on the gateway as well as on the three windows in our living room. The sunlight pushing through the slats made it feel like maybe spring is establishing a firm hold on northern New Jersey.
So I stepped outside, testing the air in bare feet, shorts and a T-shirt. I looked down at the cemetery below our perch and spotted the birds fluttering about the grass, a flock of sparrows with a handful of robins, a pair of dove pigeons and one cardinal.
And there, scurrying about near the Dakers' tombstone was the first groundhog of the spring.
Last year, we didn't spot any hogs through March or April, causing some concern that perhaps they'd abandoned their home beneath ours. But while away on my Memorial Day weekend road trip through the Rockies, I received a text message from Casey: "Joyous occasion -- at least 3 or 4 groundhog babies!"
This year, with our likely (hopefully soon-to-be-impending; more on that later) move, I had hoped we'd catch a glimpse of them before the beginning of May, when we'll be at the end of our lease.
Thankfully, that hope turned into reality today, and I snapped a couple of photos to be sure to preserve the moment. But I expect several more in the coming weeks.
It's not like we tried to copy Heather and Kevin. It's just that we couldn't shake this one house from our minds. We'd talk about it regularly, think about it constantly and -- at least once for each of us, I believe -- dream about it.
So we went to our realtor's on Monday to sign the bid contract. She drove it over that afternoon around 4 o'clock and called us with the sellers' counter offer. We sent her back inside with another counter, and they took it.
She works fast.
The last week has been a blur of phone calls and e-mails and mortgage rates and lawyerspeak, making the last four days feel like eight. I find myself wanting four hours to myself to just take a break, yet I'm bound by deadlines and a desire to keep pushing ahead to sort everything out expediently. We thought we had our home inspection all lined up for Monday morning, but then our lawyer received a fax from the sellers' lawyer with changes to the contract rider that were illegible, drawing out that exchange another day. We expect to get the rider sorted out and signed by all parties on Monday, allowing us to move forward with the inspection on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Casey's been great in dealing with our lawyer and the rider, while I've taken the reins on finding the inspector and dealing with the mortgage brokers. That's not fun. You've got all of them quoting you plans and rates and saying it's the best that's available at the moment, but please be sure to let them know if you get any better offers, because I might be able to match or beat it. That's the nice way of saying, "I'll see if I can pull one over on you just a little bit, but if someone prevents that from happening, I still want your business." While it's been a bit of a pain to keep track of five names, companies and plans, it's paid off in the past two days with two offers that are really competitive and appear to be solid options.
We're hoping to close on April 4 -- or within a week of that date -- so Monday will put us within 30 days of potentially becoming homeowners. Our apartment lease is up on May 6, and we want the one-month overlap to make some changes before we fill the place with our stuff. For now, though, I can't think much past tomorrow morning, let alone into next week when we could be a significant step closer to securing this place.