So Close to Home

My grandma was a hoarder. She filled every corner of our tiny cottage with dusty yard sale finds, stained stuffed animals, mothball-scented clothing, and an endless sea of tchotchkes. It was musty and cramped and dark. Lots of bugs. Every window had blankets stapled over them, so no one could see inside. There was no room to breathe. Every time someone came to the door uninvited, it was chaos as we hurried to tidy up. I still do that, freaking out over company coming over. Years later, I learned that “doorbell dread” is a common anxiety among children of hoarders.

Home is a BIG word for me. Having a comfortable, clean, place with room to breathe is almost an obsession. When my husband and I moved in together, we bought a mobile home. It was cheap and temporary until we could afford our dream house. Ten years later, we’re still in a trailer with no storage space, no room to put up a Christmas tree, or to have people over for Thanksgiving. We’ve done our best to make it a home, but it’s small, cramped and bug-y. It reminds me too much of my childhood cottage. I can’t breathe in it.

We saved a lot and started house hunting a couple years ago. We looked at over 100 houses before giving up. This time around, we’re seeing more houses we like but not THE ONE. Then, a friend clued us in on a program that could give us a wad of free money to put toward pricier, nicer houses. Our loan specialist said we qualified! Then a few days later, she said we didn’t. We had too much money saved. But she got special permission for us to pay something down. So we did. Then she came back and said, “Oops, my bad, you had to pay something off, not down. But don’t worry, we’ll write a letter to the program explaining my error. But you still should pay something off.” So we did.

Last Thursday, we found our dream house. It was elegant and quirky. Spacious and warm. We were the first people to see it and we fell in love. I cried. It was MAGICAL, that feeling. Like the perfect wedding dress moment that I never had. We put in an offer that night. The next morning, the loan specialist said, “You rent your trailer, right?” No. We own it and she knew that. She tells me, “Bad news. You still don’t quality for the program. Your mobile home is a liquid asset. You still have too much money.”

I could go on a tangent here about how screwed up the system is and how, as a child-free couple who isn’t poor enough to be poor but still doesn’t have enough to be middle class, we have consistently been screwed on any and all governmental help when we’ve been in need. But I’ll save that rant for another day.

When I say I cried, that’s a massive understatement. I was hysterical and had a hyperventilating, anxiety attack. Not only did we not qualify for the loan to get our dream house, we’d decimated half of our savings, meaning we no longer could afford to get any house with a traditional loan. We were so close to our dream and then it was just yanked away from us.

I cried so hard my eyes were half-swollen shut. I left work to be a wreck at home. The whole afternoon I berated myself for being melodramatic. It was just a house. We had a roof over our heads. Some people would love to have what we already have and I’m selfish for thinking that I deserve more than that. When my husband came home, I told him and many more tears were shed. Realtor was livid on our behalf and contacted a new finance person for us. He might be able to help us. We’ll have to pay $500 for an assessor to hopefully determine that the trailer is worth like, $12 and a handful of gum wrappers, so can reapply for the program. No telling if the money will even still be there, but it’s our only shot. Our realtor thought we should move forward with our offer. So we did. I wrote an impassioned letter to the sellers explaining how much the house would mean to us and how much love we saw in its walls and the work they did to it. The letter gave me a smidgen of hope. Maybe…

On Monday, I woke with my left hand completely numb. I couldn’t hold things. Could barely type. The only feeling I had was an unbearable pins and needles sensation that lasted until late in the afternoon.

The realtor texted to tell us that the sellers accepted someone else’s offer.

My hand. My heart. Numb, yet painful. I know you’re not supposed to get attached to a house like this. But this is such a big dream. And I’m thirty-eight going on thirty-nine in a few weeks. I swore I’d have a house back when I was in my twenties. Now I’m heading into my forties and if we don’t manage to qualify for this loan, we’re fucked because we blew our saving and will have to put off getting a house for another few years.

I only have two big dreams. A house and a writing career. Both seem extraordinarily out of reach right now and every year they don’t happen, I feel like that much more of a failure as an adult. And frankly, I have Uncontrolled Diabetes and I don’t even know if I’ll live to see either of those things happen.

I don’t want to hear that this occurred for a reason. Or that it wasn’t the right house for us. I don’t want advice, platitudes or optimism. Fuck optimism. However small it might seem like to some people, this meant everything to me and right now, I just need to mourn a little.

Jesus, I’m morose right now.

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