Friday, April 06, 2007

'Give us all your money' day

At 3:28 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, our lawyer turned back toward us from the doorway of the conference room and, in a small ceremonial gesture, said to us: "Congratulations. You now own a home."

We'd just gone through the first round of signings (in triplicate) and said goodbye to the sellers, an old couple likely in their 80s who had come with their attorney. The major documents were signed and the house was ours; all that remained was another round of signings related to our loan and various other things that needed to be turned into legalese and explained to us by a guy who charged us what I think was the best chunk of money we spent on this whole process. Well, that and the actual house.

Before the part of the process that a friend of ours described over the weekend as "the part where they say, 'Give us all your money,'" we drove through a downpour for our 1 p.m. walkthrough, where the weather allowed us to witness first-hand the dry basement and attic, where the rain echoed off the roof of the empty space. Even the shed at the end of the driveway was cozy and dry when I stepped into it and discovered a relatively new, sturdy, well-built structure that will house whatever outdoor implements we determine we need. Other pleasant surprises included the bottle of champagne in the fridge and four filled ice trays in the freezer.

After the closing, Casey and I treated ourselves to sliders at White Manna and then went home -- to our apartment -- to change into more comfortable clothes and gather some things. We returned to the house with a few lights to leave and a tape measure to start planning some changes. Armed with a flashlight for the rooms without lights, we noted the measurements of the closets upstairs and the bedrooms, which might need new carpets. That conditional is included because, when we opened one of the closets to measure its depth, we noticed hardwood flooring that seemed to extend beneath the carpet in the bedroom. Pulling up what we could without any tools, we feel we may have found hardwood beneath the carpets where we were told there wasn't any. The upstairs foyer seemed to hold the same promise, so perhaps our flooring renovations won't necessitate the actual installation of hardwood and we can instead simply refinish that which has been covered up for who knows how many years.

Casey and I shared the same feeling that the more exciting moment was weeks ago when we found out the sellers had accepted our bid. Yesterday was monumental as well, but not quite as thrilling as the back-and-forth negitiations through our realtor and the call that we would be buying this place. However, now that we've been back there -- at night, by ourselves, with the keys in our hands -- the plans and our vision for the house are starting to move from possibility to reality. I think it may have contributed to the restlessness last night, when Casey and I both tossed and turned from 4 a.m. to 6:30. For my own part, I don't think I slept a minute during that time, finally dozing off again around 6:30 -- only to be awakened 20 minutes later by the banshee next door yelling at her drunk of a husband (her words, previously) for not setting the alarm for her Very Important Meeting at 9 a.m.

(At this point, I could only laugh -- schadenfreude -- and think, Well, if you'd focus your energy on getting ready instead of abusing your husband for not setting an alarm that you easily could've done yourself, you could very well make it into the city in the next two hours. She then continued berating him by saying he knows she has a Very Important Meeting every Friday morning. That's when I said to Casey, "Um, it's Thursday." Ten seconds later, the husband gathers up the nerve to say, "Today's Thursday." After a beat, the bitch replies, "That doesn't matter." After that comment is when I managed to drift off again and didn't catch all that followed, but the episode served as a pleasant reminder of what we'll leave behind when we move in a month.)

Tomorrow -- which is now later today -- I'll head back there to wait for the locksmith, the first of several trips I'll make in the next month to wait for one service or another. A folding butterfly chair and tray table will give me someplace to sit and a surface on which to put my laptop. Surfing the internet will not be an option, but I can write or sort through songs on the iPod or watch DVDs I'll likely bring with me. For now, that's all I can do, up until I repeat the process while waiting for the cable/internet guy to come and hook us up.

From our first visit there, Casey and I started picturing it as our house, imagining our books in all the shelves built into the walls, configuring our furniture in the upstairs living room and finished basement, wondering what we'll end up naming the cats. Now, after one month of phone calls and appointments that were at times taxing, we move into a new phase that will change the home from that of an elderly couple that spent the last 40 years -- and all but 13 years of their 53-year marriage -- there to ours.

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