Thursday, September 17, 2015

Three Stories, One Ending

I am sitting in my chair typing furiously at you, Christmas music chiming in the background as a poor man's therapy.

My life basically hit the fan in a gloriously messy explosion, and I find myself turning to writing to alleviate some of the pressure. Today features three stories with one ending.

Story the First:

Seven years ago, we decided to buy a house.

Our realtor, Jeff, was an old friend, and soon had us on our way to house owning bliss.

Our efforts to secure a house were rebuffed however by the disgruntled owner who decided to counter our offer at ten thousand dollars higher than his asking price. No bueno, we said, and walked away.

Life then got stupid messy, and we put house buying on hold.

We've successfully dodged house ownership for quite a few years, but this year seemed to be the right year.

So, Jeff showed us a whole bunch of homes.

And we found the "perfect" one.

The owner of the house came back at our offer ten thousand higher than his asking price (do you see a pattern here?), and wanted us to know that there was another interested buyer, wink wink, nudge nudge.

Jeremy and I looked at each other, and shrugged.

We decided to wait until next spring to pursue houses again.

The thing, though, was that it kept eating away at my head. I would wonder what was out there. Was there a place for us?? Every time I would think, pray, muse, or ruminate on homes, "Come, come ye saints" would spring to mind: "We'll find a place which God for us prepared, far away in the West."

The thought of living across the lake simultaneously filled me with excitement and dread. It was so far away from everything. I mean, it's like if the boonies had boonies, that would be them. As a hermit, it had a strong appeal. As a little girl who doesn't like being far from her mommy...well...that's a different thing altogether.

But good ol' Jeff sent us home listings from all over the valley, including the boonie's boonies.

Jeremy, after all the disappointments with homes, was pretty disenchanted with the idea of even looking anymore. He would storm about the kitchen exclaiming that he didn't want to see the home I was investigating. And then he'd stomp over and glare at the computer and declare that, yes, there was a place for his mustang, what else was there?

Before our Labor Day trip to California, I had been poking around the real estate listings, and came across a house that looked magical. I successfully baited Jeremy and reeled him in, and he called Jeff to set up a time to look at it.

Jeff didn't respond.

I think he was getting tired of our silly shenanigans.

He used to tell this story about a client he showed over 100 homes to.

I could quickly seeing this story being displaced with a story about how he had a client who took seven years to find a house.

In my irritation, I kept looking at the home, insisting it was the place for us, when I stumbled across another house.

Suddenly the first house seemed like a cardboard box by the side of the freeway.

So, Jeremy called Jeff again.

"Forget the first house," he said. "We have a different one we want to look at."

I can imagine Jeff deflating a little at that, since he had already contacted the first homeowner.

But, he bounced back quickly, and set up a time to see the second home, and asked if we'd like to see the other one anyway. We agreed, and off we went.

The first house was, indeed, a cardboard box by the side of the freeway, albeit the "freeway" was in the middle of nowhere. Any remaining hopes I had harbored were snuffed out, and I was happy to leave without even looking at the backyard, never mind the three slobbery dog beasts that were pressing their noses against the sliding glass doors that were serving as a deterrent anyway.

We hopped in the car, and zoomed off to the second home.

It was magical. I loved it from the second I stepped inside.

It was exactly everything we needed: closer to Jeremy's job, had enough bedrooms, had a great kitchen, and room to expand. Everything else it lacked were things we could and were willing to fix.


Story the Second

After we went and saw the houses, we decided to go out to eat for Jeremy's birthday, which was the next day.

We sat down in the red cushioned booth at Red Robin, and it took us a good 15 minutes to get settled, what with Jeremy on the phone with our loan officer, and the little people needing to go to the potty. I must have sent away the waiter three times before he finally got our order.

Behind our booth was an adjacent booth. A couple with a few kids was seated there a few minutes after we were. On the other side of us was another table with a small family.

I was tired, but excited about the thought of buying a house, but I wasn't so distracted by everything that I was ignoring the kids. I quickly killed the bouncing on the seats epidemic, and everybody behaved themselves beautifully. I think they were all tired and hungry, and since nobody had to share a cup, they were all distracted with their lemonade.

As we were waiting for our food to come, I noted that the table with the small family had a little one who was screaming incessantly. I turned to look and apparently the little guy didn't care for what his dad was offering, since he was attempting to slo-mo dive out of his high chair. His dad lowered his eyelids half way and turned away from his protesting tyke, and no doubt was wondering why they had come to this stupid restaurant anyway, since Jr. doesn't eat anything except peanut butter and Cheerios...

I have to admit that I made the mistake of congratulating myself on not having a screaming mess of a child. But I tried to be mentally supportive of the little family, since heaven knows I've been there, more often than not, and nothing is more frustrating than cranky little people in public.

They eventually left, and were replaced by other patrons. The booth next to ours emptied, and a woman and her grown daughter were seated there.

I was holding Emma at the time, and Leah, Josh, and Eva were sitting with me, since Jeremy had taken Lily and Eden to the bathroom. I noted the expression on the woman's face as she looked over at us, but I figured it was because Leah was experimenting with her straw and it was dripping a little. I shrugged it off as nothing, and once Jeremy was back at the table, we proceeded to talk about what Ron, our loan officer had said.

Our food came in short order, and all the kids were consumed with their dinners, barely making a sound except for the quiet swallowing noises that occur when you eat macaroni and cheese.

After about five minutes, the woman in the booth stood up, and stormed past our table. As she did, she said in an irritated tone, "If you can't make them mind, stop reproducing."

It took a moment for me to register what she had said and that she had said it to me. I looked at Jeremy and asked, "Did you hear what she said?"

Totally consumed by his hamburger, Jeremy shook his head.

I repeated what she had said, and thunderclouds descended around Jeremy and his whole frame became rigid. He stood up and marched after the woman, who clearly had some choice words for the poor hostess at the front of the restaurant.

I didn't hear what they said since the restaurant was noisy and they were so far away. Besides that, her words had finally sunk in and I was mortified. Devastated.

Had my children done something that I hadn't noticed? Had I somehow mismanaged them? Had they flung macaroni at her when I wasn't paying attention?

I couldn't even recall asking them to behave after the initial seat bouncing incident. And she wasn't even there for that.

What had they done? What did I command that they did not "mind"?

Jeremy came back, feathers ruffled and askew.

It was then that I started to cry.

Like, ugly cry.

I ugly cried into my big chicken salad.

Jeremy took my hand, and tried to reassure me that it wasn't us, it was her.

The entire staff of Red Robin seemed to agree, and they did their best to reassure me as well, insisting that my children were very well behaved.

Despite the fact that my brain knew what they were all saying was true, I was shaken to my core. The woman's words broke my confidence into a million pieces.

We finished our meal, and then walked around the mall. Despite all of Jeremy's assurances, I felt like a failure. And it was then that my children, sensing my new found lack of any confidence as a mother, decided it would be a good time to act like crazy people.

Story the Third

I've been trying to get Jeremy to agree to get a dog for years.

Not that I really like dogs, per se, but I imagined that having one would complete our American Dream.

Jeremy was very reluctant, but my constant wheedling provoked him into agreeing that we could maybe get a dog once we had a house.

Well, we went down to California for Jeremy's grandpa's funeral, and Becky's dog, Rose, had had a litter of the cutest balls of fuzz on the planet. I was determined to bring one home, but Jeremy's reluctance and my being almost eight months pregnant proved to be too much, so we asked Becky if she would be willing to bring a puppy up with her when we had Emma's baby blessing. She said she would.

But as time went on, it just didn't seem like it was going to work out. We didn't have a house like we'd planned, and there was no fence, dog run or dog house for a puppy. We had to decline taking the puppy.

I was bummed.

I'm pretty sure Jeremy was relieved.

Anyway, fast forward to our Labor Day trip.

Becky's dog had another litter.

And I wanted nothing more than to bring a puppy home.

The last day of our trip, I shoved a puppy into Jeremy's face and said, "ISN'THECUTEITHINKHEISADORABLEICANTELLYOUDOTOOHEJUSTNEEDSABATHANDBECKYHASAKENNELFORHIMI'MTAKINGHIMHOME."

Jeremy stumbled back stunned, and I raced off with Aislyn and the puppy to the bathroom where he was scrubbed clean and named.

He was to be Merlin, and he was going to be the best dog EVER.

The Conclusion:

The financing fell into place.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about our offer being accepted, or even reasonably countered. I mean, our track record has been super horrible.

Well, we put an offer in on Jeremy's birthday, and heard nothing.

I figured we were ignored by the owners.

I sagged a little, but thought, "Welp, must not be the place for us...despite being in the west."

Jeremy was super bummed. Disappointment dripped from very soul as moved from room to room at Candace's house.

I chose to be pragmatic and stoic about it. No point in getting attached to a place we'd only seen once.

Imagine my surprise the next day when the owners countered at a reasonable price, and we found ourselves in the process of buying a house.

Once we were home, we had to worry about the appraisal and inspection.

Those things fell into place, too.

The appraisal came back at exactly what our loan would be.

The inspection went without a hitch.

However, all the stress and insanity began to mount.

We have to put in a fence, sprinklers, and grass.

Our new dog, Merlin, was great, except now he was barking all the time and I couldn't get him to stop. That was bad enough, but then he started to growl at the children, and I was worried about him biting them.

Speaking of children, since that horrible night at Red Robin, I couldn't seem to get my kids to listen to one darn word I said. It was like I was the ringmaster for a circus gone mad because I was tied up behind one of the tents. Helpless, I was screaming outwardly and inwardly from some semblance of order and peace to no avail.

Then, as dumb luck would have it, Jeremy's car decided it was feeling homicidal and was attempting to murder my husband.

All I could cognitively muster was "WHYWHYWHY??" followed by bashing my head literally and figuratively on anything that gave resistance.

The kids made a silent pact to be hooligans of the worst kind, and after reaching my shenanigans threshold, I ended up screaming at them while they ate their dinner.

"YOU ARE THE MOST UNGRATEFUL CHILDREN I HAVE EVER MET! I WORK HARD TO FEED YOU GOOD FOOD AND ALL YOU DO IS COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING I MAKE! YOUR DADDY AND I TRY TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AND MAKE YOUR LIFE GOOD AND IT'S NEVER GOOD ENOUGH!!! I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE YOU!"

As I screamed my last scream, Jeremy put the children in bed, and I tried to figure out how we were going to get a car and a house and a fence and have a dog and finish a basement and raise our children to be decent people all at the same time. The sheer enormity of everything that was on my plate finally erupted all over Jeremy.

"WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET SOMETHING EXPENSIVE?? WHY CAN'T YOU JUST GET SOMETHING PRACTICAL???? DON'T DO THIS WHOLE THING WHERE YOU SAY YOUR CAR IS FINE WHEN YOU CAN'T GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT!!!! WHY WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME?? I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU THIS FOR MONTHS!!! DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT IT WOULD KILL ME IF YOU DIED IN THAT STUPID CAR??????"

He looked at me, dumbfounded, and I collapsed on my desk in heaving, gasping sobs.

Not my best moment.

Jeremy, deeply effected by the most open and honest outburst he had ever heard from me, visibly softened.

He then proceeded to look at ridiculously practical cars online.

We then decided that Merlin had to go.

As I drove to the shelter, my eyes kept welling up as I thought about my betrayal of poor Merlin. I took him in my arms in a final goodbye, and could feel my face implode again into ugly crying. I had failed this little dog beast.

And Becky was going to be really mad.

It's like I can do nothing without disappointing someone.

Moral of the Story: Buying a house is horrible. I'm bad at dogs and kids. And husbands.  

2 comments:

Trillium said...

Some days are like that--terrible, horrible, very bad, no good -- (you know the rest)
--love you!!

Shydandelion said...

Thanks, Mama! :D

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