“I am not even going to call this my dirty clothes pile,” Eric said to me on Sunday night in our hotel room as he collected his disgusting, sweaty clothes from the past two days. “It’s more like…my pile of shame.”
For some reason, that sentence just sticks in my mind when I look back at the past two weeks. It’s been a pile of shame.
So, we didn’t close on the house on time. And it wasn’t just us; several other houses were closing after ours…our seller was buying a house, and her seller was buying a house, and so on and so forth. Four deals were waiting on our deal and our deal was waiting on Wells Fargo. Who was not responding to calls or e-mails.
This was never part of the plan.
The Original Transition Schedule
Wednesday 7/11: Close on the house and start the lease-back period. We agreed to give our seller this week in the house after closing due to some logistical needs on her end; while we didn’t plan to be at the house much during this week, we knew we at least had the option of taking some of our stuff over, beginning some small improvements, etc.
Wednesday 7/18: Our seller moves out of the house. We have the kitchen cabinets repainted, the new floors installed (if we could afford it), and we start painting all the rooms while there is no furniture in the house.
Saturday 7/21: Our new bedroom set is delivered to the new house. Movers come and take everything from our apartment to the new (and now improved) house; we have the apartment cleaned and turn in our keys. Homeowners!
So, that’s doable, right? We started packing well in advance and had a solid schedule for getting all of our stuff done on time. But then around July 9, it became apparent that Wells Fargo might not take deadlines as seriously as we had once thought. Once that happened, Eric and I stopped getting things done because we were stressed and literally sitting by the phone waiting to find out what was happening.
We managed to close late on Friday, July 13. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal — because seriously, what is two days when you’re doing something that’s going to last a decade or two?! — but it was now a huge problem. Because of the two-day delay, one of those other buyers/sellers had to delay his move by a full week. This had a trickle-down effect and we were told our seller couldn’t move out of the house until Tuesday, July 24. But our lease ended on Saturday, July 21 and there was no getting around that. As we waited to close at the title company on that Friday evening, Eric was on the phone with Wells Fargo trying to figure out why the rest of the documents still hadn’t been faxed over while I was calling all the people involved with our move to see what we could do about rescheduling everything.
The Revised Transition Schedule
Friday 7/13: Close on the house. Start packing for three different destinations: things to go into storage for a week, things that can/must go to the house or a few days, and things that we’ll want in the hotel with us.
Saturday 7/21: Have movers come and take most of our items to storage. Take a few boxes plus our mattress and box frame, to the new house. Have the apartment cleaned. Check into a hotel and board the dogs, courtesy of Wells Fargo.
Tuesday 7/24: Have cabinets professionally painted and start painting the rooms ourselves.
Wednesday 7/25 to Friday 7/27: Have new floors installed downstairs; work on painting upstairs.
Saturday 7/28: Have the movers bring our stuff from storage. Homeowners!
The Actual Transition Schedule
Friday 7/13: We start packing for three different destinations: things to go into storage for a week, things that can/must go to the house for a few days, and things that wanted in the hotel with us. We also have a ton to do to the apartment to get it move-out ready. Our apartment just kinda got passed down for about six years as one roommate would move out and a new friend would move in. When each former roommate moved out, they did very little about any damage they may have caused or even any mess they left behind, so by the time Eric moved in, and then I moved in two years later, there was a lot of wear and tear. That we now have to fix.
Tuesday 7/17: I wake up to find that my blog no longer exists. For a half a day, I sit at the computer just staring at the huge messy pile of shame that is there. I don’t cry, I don’t panic…I just stare my cPanel and all the error codes buried deep within it like the train wreck that it is. I cannot tear myself away from the computer, yet I’m not actually figuring anything out by all this staring. I consider just not bothering fixing it and being like, “WELL, I guess that’s the end of that little experiment on this new Internet thing!” Finally, with the help of my very patient coworker and a one great customer support person at Bluehost (too bad the first two weren’t quite so helpful), we get it working again. Even once it’s fixed, I avoid my blog because I’m afraid I’ll break it again it if I touch it. I ask myself, Why should I have a house when I obviously can’t have nice things?
Wednesday 7/18: A delivery truck shows up at the house with our new bedroom set. They call Eric, who tells them they are there on the wrong day and to please come back on the day we had actually scheduled, Saturday 7/21. Then he asks if they can come on 7/24 instead, since 7/21 was going to be a pain in the ass for everyone.
Thursday 7/19: We begin to get a little concerned that we weren’t going to be ready for the movers. I’m still not sure how we fell so far behind. I think it had something to do with all the organizing and cleaning we were doing before packing things, and how much touch-up work there was to do. And, ya know, those pesky jobs we have kept interfering.
Friday 7/20: All the early mornings and late nights start catching up to us and productivity starts to suffer big time. By midnight Friday night, I found myself seriously just walking around the apartment in a dazed loop and later, as I wrapped up my large ceramic deer in bubble wrap, I sort of came to and realized I was just mindlessly wrapping packing tape around and around and around it. Sigh. Taking on too many things never works out well for anyone, does it?
Saturday 7/21: We are up at 6 AM to keep packing. The movers show up at 8 AM. We are not fully packed. We have a lot packed, so I feel like less of an asshole, but I’m still rather ashamed. Because we haven’t finished packing on time, a lot of those last “Ugh how exactly do I pack this oddly-shaped thing from three years ago that I don’t want to throw away but I don’t care about right now?” items didn’t make it into storage with the movers. We realize that we have to drag all that crap to the new house ourselves, in our cars…and the house is still occupied. We spend the day organizing and packing that stuff, as well as making the apartment move-out ready. I make the executive decision to wait to take it to the new house until Sunday, as we know that our apartment complex won’t be expecting our keys or — as far as I know anyway — inspecting the apartment until Monday morning. Eric is convinced they are going to show up at 6 AM Sunday morning and throw everything we left in apartment overnight away; my stance is that if they can get all this stuff out and to the Dumpster before we get back for it at 8 AM, I’d be pretty damn impressed because it is a rather hefty pile. We cross our fingers that I’m right about this and then check into our hotel with at least one moving box we were nervous about leaving in the apartment in case I am wrong. The hot showers and king-size bed are so appreciated.
Sunday 7/22: We drag all the stuff to the new house and then go buy some of the paint we’ll need. Later that evening, we get a phone call from our Realtor, who got a phone call from our seller’s Realtor. Apparently, he’s pissed we took our stuff to the new house, even though we explained at the closing table that we were going to do that. We wonder why our seller called her Realtor rather than contacting us directly in the first place. Also wonder why her Realtor insists on being such a dick to everyone all the time. We are so ready to be done with all of this and just have the place to ourselves. The seller said she’d be completely out by Tuesday and all she’d be doing that day was having the maid come, so we figure we just have one day to go dealing with this sort-of owning-but-not-really leaseback nonsense. Eric throws his clothes into the “pile of shame.”
Monday 7/23 (early morning): I look in the mirror for what feels like the first time in like a month and wonder what the hell happened to my face, hair, and nails, and question whether I dressed myself in the dark. I feel like a pile of shame. How long have I looked so unkempt? I’d actually rather not know. With my stuff in so many different places, I feel incredibly scattered, and I think of the horcruxes from the Harry Potter novels. Maybe I stashed some of my soul in these items and that’s why I feel so lost (and why I’m beginning to look physically disfigured). It’s not a good feeling. No wonder Voldermort was such a dick, I think.
Monday 7/23 (mid-morning): I try to coordinate the plan for Monday night/Tuesday morning with our seller. We aren’t clear if she’s spending the night there that night, and if she’s not, we want to get in and start doing some painting, which we are aiming to have done on the first floor before installation begins on the floors in on Wednesday. If she is planning to be there, we’ll wait until Tuesday afternoon, working around the cabinets being repainted.
Monday 7/23 (evening): Our Realtor forwards Eric an e-mail from the seller’s Realtor, Patrick Welsh, (who, at this point, is employed by no one involved in this situation and is really just a dude yelling). He uses LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS to tell Mary to tell us to leave our seller alone because she’s “really stressed out right” and “needs her rest.” He says we are not allowed to contact her anymore, and if we have any questions, we can call him and he will tell us NO. (Caps his, not mine.) He says we have to cancel our contractor for Tuesday because the seller’s maid will be there possibly at the same time. He also adds that if we try to enter the house — the house we own, legally, as she is now our tenant, and the house we made clear at the closing table that we’d be entering a few times in the next few weeks — before noon on Tuesday (the cutoff time of the lease-back) the ALARM WILL BE SET. Patrick has been really nasty during most of this process, but the e-mail is so incredibly unprofessional, intrusive, rude, and honestly just ridiculous, Eric and I about lose it. Eric ignores Patrick’s absurd threats and calls our seller directly to coordinate the three hours in the morning that are the problem. She gets flustered and makes excuses for involving Patrick (“I was really stressed out and told my dad and my dad called Patrick who said I didn’t have to talk to you…” because yes, when you are a woman in your 30s with two children of your own, that’s exactly what you should do in this situation) and starts going on about how she’ll just clean it herself and then starts pulling a “FINE! FINE! I’ll just move out TONIGHT! I’ll take my girls and try to find someplace for us to stay so you can have it TONIGHT. I don’t even care!” Eric — who is so conscientious and courteous of others that it often borderlines on not standing up for himself when most people would agree that he has every right to — is unimpressed and unmoved by this last bit of shameless drama, and frankly, it’s kind of awesome to watch him stand up for himself and for us and for reasonable people everywhere. They eventually work it out (which isn’t complicated at all when you act like a rational adult) and Eric and I spend the night hoping this is the last of the dramz. We just have a few hours to go. I try to use that time to get some writing done. I mostly fail.
Tuesday 7/24 (very early morning): Eric and I get up at 5:00 to get a jump-start on trying to keep our heads above water at our respective jobs. We start around 6:00 with a plan to break at 9:00 to let the guys in to do the cabinets; then we’ll head back to work. I get a ton of things done in these few hours and feel so much better. We head to the house, hoping that we don’t have some kind of confrontation with the seller. She isn’t there, and, after convincing the cleaning lady to let us in (because our seller conveniently didn’t tell her that we were coming), I am flooded with relief as I see that the house is empty except for our things, and the place finally feels like ours to do with as we see fit. I am SO excited to start the process of moving in and doing all the improvements and upgrades we’ve been planning for the past six weeks. Homeowners(ish)!
Tuesday 7/24 (morning): As I drive to work, I call to confirm that our bedroom set is, in fact, being delivered today because I have a bad feeling about it. They tell us that they tried to deliver on the day we scheduled (lies! I scheduled it for 7/21!) and that we weren’t home (well, right, because it wasn’t our home at that point) and so they took it away and gave it to the next person on the waiting list. And — ooops! — now we can’t have our headboard and footboard until September. They keep insisting it’s our fault for not being there when they tried to deliver it (…on the wrong day). I’ll deal with this later. Someday. I don’t know.
Tuesday 7/24 (evening): I get to the house as they are finishing up the cabinets. In a matter of ours, they have gone from dated oak to a gleaming, creamy white. The kitchen appears to have doubled in size, but I might just be seeing things thanks to all the toxic fumes I’m inhaling. Whatever. I’m so excited. Eric and I have somehow forgotten to pick up any paint stirrers so while the house airs out, we make our daily shopping excursion (seriously, not a day has gone by in the past two weeks that hasn’t included a trip to either Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot for something…usually it’s more than one store/more than once a day) and then get out our paint and supplies. A friend of his from work comes over to help us get started painting. He’s a freaking superstar with trim. Three hours later, the two rooms on the first floor that we want to get done ASAP have very lovely first coats.
Wednesday 7/25 (very early morning): Eric and I decide to get up early again, but we have a much harder time than we did on Tuesday. I’m really struggling. We check out of the hotel and take all our stuff to the house. Eric plans to come back at 9 for the flooring guys. I head to work, then detour to Starbucks. I have deadlines looming so I begrudgingly cancel a hair appointment for the second time in a week, feeling like an asshole because she’s working with me to fit me in before she is unavailable for like three weeks. I know this means my extensions will damn near fall out by the time she can fit me in yet again, but thus is the life for a pile of shame.
The transition hasn’t quite ended, but we’re very close. It’s been a ridiculous couple of weeks and I’ve felt so out of of touch with everyone and everything and not like myself at all. (Because when I think of myself, I typically think, “Someone who shaves her legs regularly,” you know?) The good news is, we have a house (!!!!!!), we’re onto the fun part of the process, and I’m slowly collecting all of my horcruxes. And perhaps one day soon I will collect the horcrux housing the part of my soul that makes me a person who gives a shit about her hair; but for now, I’m trying to not plan on anything and just continue to take things one day at a time.