Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Closure, or Foreclosure

When Kasey and I were looking to buy a new house a year and a half ago, we had a budget and a price range in mind that led to looking at a lot of…um, dumps.  We wanted just enough house, just enough to give us more financial freedom down the road and to have a little for the extras in the meantime.  So nothing was off the table.  $40,000 foreclosure with less-than-impressive photos online?  Sure.  $100,000 foreclosure with way-too-impressive photos online?  Sure.  Mold-infested house?  Sure. 

One evening, our realtor led us through five foreclosed houses.  I felt sick.  I felt angry.  I imagined these houses during their greatest years, the years when the families who lived in them were proud of them, put a new coat of paint on, added a sunroom, planted an extra shade tree for the kids out back.  I imagined the houses in more recent years, when the families who lived in them were proud of them but scraping by, foregoing dealing with that leak in the bathroom in favor of putting food on the table, ignoring the crack in the foundation because who has that kind of money, and mowing the lawn when they found the energy after working a double shift. 

The foreclosures told the stories of so many pained lives that ended with walking away from home, leaving it to decay along with their plans to own it.    

Some of the houses were cared for until the end – they were reasonably clean and water damage was minimal.  One former owner put an open cup of baking soda inside a moldy closet to absorb the moisture and odor – futile, but evidence of care. 

Some of the houses were left angrily, with one last stick it to the man hurrah – cigarette butts and broken beer bottles scattered all over the house, too-big-to-move furniture and garbage bags of trash left behind, mystery stains all over the carpet. 

No one plans to foreclose on a house.  We all intend to have real closure:  to pay off our debt, to eventually hold the title, to be good stewards in the meantime. 

How do I bring closure to events from my past that I have no control over?  When too much time has passed and I’ll never see those people again?  When the relationships have decayed for too long and are past repairing?  When I just don’t have the resources to keep making the painful payments?

Maybe foreclosure is the only option left. 

Maybe I have to walk away with the unsettled knowing that I will never have that satisfying ending. 

I want to be the baking soda in the moldy closet kind of forecloser, though.  The kind that doesn’t fantasize about punching that jerk kid in the 7th grade (what was his name…Jack?  Jeff?) who called me fat.  The kind that realizes that Jack/Jeff probably had some people in his life who were pretty mean to him, too. 

I want to tell that little girl in the 3rd grade who I made up that mean poem about (“…you’re so dumb, you’re so dumb, you suck your thumb”) that I’m sorry; that I was lonely and scared to be starting a new school and my mean poem had nothing to do with her.  And that I sucked my thumb until I was 7 and was apparently feeling a little insecure about it. 

I want to stare at that last “payment past due” bill without guilt or shame.  I want to make peace with that house and my leaving it, to be able to look back on it and remember playing under the shade tree and reading in the sunroom, along with the leaky faucet and cracked foundation. 

Because, pretty soon, a new generation of homeowners will live in that house.  My kids do now, in fact, dwell in the house made up of all of my old homes, those closures and foreclosures.  For them, I won’t have that one final beer bash, even though it might feel good.  I’ll carefully pour baking soda into that styrofoam cup, put it gently in the closet, and close the door.  

1 comment:

picturingtheordinary said...

Your writing is so honest and raw. Thank you for sharing.