I haven’t been posting much lately, because my life has just been unbelievably hard for an unbelievably long time. Every time I sit down thinking I’ll post about my manicure or some other deep thoughts, I just don’t have the strength. But yesterday things took a definitive turn for the better in a variety of ways, and I’m finally seeing that I can, and will, come out of all this soon as the peaceful, joyful, and free goddess that we all know I am.
So, one challenge I’ve been facing is dealing with the house I still own in Warrensburg. I moved to Columbia for a work promotion, and my old house was on the market for months, with no bites. Finally a family approached me with a sob story that really should be made into a Lifetime movie.
They had recently filed bankruptcy, and they desperately wanted to buy my house, but couldn’t until the bankruptcy cleared their credit. He was a veteran. Was in Afghanistan when his ex-wife sent him a “Dear John” letter and divorced him. She ran up $30,000 in credit card debt in his name first though. That was supposedly the reason for the bankruptcy. He had since married a good woman, had a good job nailed down, and needed to move his family to Warrensburg to accept it. This family consisted of five children, kind of a hers, mine, and ours situation. One child had special needs. Oh, and two dogs, but one of the dogs was a service dog for the special needs child.
I mean! What would you have done?! My heart went out to these poor people. They put a contract on my house, for full asking price, to purchase it in two years, when the bankruptcy would leave their credit report. They agreed to pay me a monthly rent that was more than my house payment in the meantime, plus they’d cover all utilities and pay for any maintenance required on the house while they rented. It seemed like the best solution for all concerned at the time.
Fast forward 15 months…
They haven’t paid me a dime since they paid part of April’s rent. It’s July people. They stopped answering their phone and their front door. Judging from the outside, I knew the house was in terrible shape. And judging from the level of their bill paying skills I was privy to, I cleverly deduced that they were unlikely to be improving their credit so as to qualify for a mortgage to buy my house. I told them to pay up or get out by May 31st.
They didn’t. Didn’t pay up. Didn’t get out.
So, more formal procedures were initiated, and they agreed in writing to be out by July 5th. (And asked me to “let them go in peace” and to not “single out their kids.” Ummm…what? I have never laid eyes on your kids. You owe me a lot of money. I want my money or my house.)
This week they left. I know this, not because they came and turned in the keys and all the money they owe me. Not because they acted like civilized human beings and did the right thing. No. I know this because R went to check on the house, found the back door wide open, and had a look see.
You guys. You guys. It is so much unbelievably worse than I ever could have dreamed it would be. My head is spinning with thoughts of, “What is wrong with people?!”
Every room is full of trash. Every square inch of carpet is stained, with pee, soda, paint, blood I think?! The children colored on every wall and most of the doors in the house. Like, preschool aged children’s scribbles six feet up on the walls. Picture it…these kids had to stand on stuff to draw that high up. Over and over again, on every wall in the house.
They ripped up brand new carpet we’d put down in the basement. They took switch plate covers with them, but left boxes of clothes, shoes, and DVDs. There are probably 10 half drank cups of soda in every room. The refrigerator is full of food.
But it gets worse. They left cats. They left their cats. Let’s ponder this a minute shall we? First of all, they told me they had two dogs, one of those a service dog. There were also three cats. And they took off and left them. Thankfully they left them outside, but they were desperately trying to get inside. And there was a dirty litter box in the basement.
I was just livid over the whole affair. And I was feeling personally offended. I mean, how could people be so awful?! It’s not like they screwed over Goldman Sachs or Exxon. They screwed me over. A single woman trying to make her way in the world and be a good person, while paying the mortgage on the house you’re living in for free. And then you abandoned your cats.
I’m not proud of the thoughts I’ve had over the past few days about these people and all the horrible things I’ve wished upon their heads.
So, let’s move along to the silver lining, shall we?
I’ve hired some guys. They went in and looked around and put together an estimate. Despite my horror at the devastation of the house, they were nonplussed. They said yeah, it’s filthy, but it’s not awful. They’ve seen a lot worse. It’s not like they broke windows and punched holes in walls. It’s mostly cosmetic, they said. They can fix this.
But not with three cats there. I told them immediately I’d come get the cats. They were thrilled, and they told me that honestly, the very best thing I could do at this point to move progress along, is to deal with the cats. Good. I can do that. I can do this thing to definitively make this fiasco finally head in a positive direction. And I can make a terrible situation better for these poor cats.
I left work last night and headed to Warrensburg with two cat carriers (I couldn’t scrounge a third), flea spray, cat food, and a wary attitude. I knew this was gonna be bad. I knew seeing my former house in it’s current state would break my heart into a million pieces. I also knew it had to happen.
My realtor had told me all I’d have to do is pull into the driveway and scoop up the cats. That’s how friendly they were, and how desperately they wanted a person to save them from this fresh hell. In reality, it wasn’t even that hard. I opened the car door, and this fella jumped right in. He proved to be the one who wouldn’t go into a cat carrier, so he rode all the way to Columbia on my lap. The other two went willingly into the carriers, and nobody screamed on the hour and a half car ride. They knew. I know they knew.
While I was at the house, I had a long talk with the next door neighbors who enlightened me even more to the insanity of these people. First off, they had five dogs. FIVE. Not two, one of whom was a service dog. Five, one of whom was vicious and tore up the fence and attacked people. Those kids? The ones I was bizarrely asked “not to single out,” got kicked out of school. My once beautiful acre yard? Mowed once last summer. Actually brush hogged. After it got to be three feet tall.
Yet there were cupcakes! Yes indeedy, these psychotic scumbags had told the neighbors they planned to open a cupcake shop in Warrensburg. They even brought over cupcakes once. WTF?! (No cupcake shop materialized.)
After our revealing chat, I told the neighbors to please just ignore me, as I intended to walk around the house and the yard crying, then take the cats off their hands. Then I did just that. I walked all over my former yard, crying as I discovered the pool destroyed, the organic garden Mom and I planted together overgrown with weeds, the landscaping non-existent, the tree I planted for Mom gone.
Going inside is when I really lost it though. I walked from room to room literally apologizing out loud to my house for what it’s been through. I apologized to the kitchen I so lovingly redecorated, the fireplace I painted and installed a remote-controlled gas log in. I apologized to the basement R and I spent months finishing which now stood carpetless and covered in wall drawings. I apologized to my purple living room for the broken curtain rods hanging with sad looking draperies and for the boxes and trash and puddles on the carpet.
I walked all over that house, and I just let my heart break for it all. I let my heart break for the life I thought I was going to live in that house with R and his daughters. I let my heart break for my cats, Tigger and Sammie who died in that house and are buried under the oak tree in the back yard. I let my heart break for the twins I lost to a miscarriage in that house, and for the unsuccessful attempts at a second pregnancy made in that now filthy bedroom. I let my heart break for the proposal in that purple living room, the text message I accidentally saw in that kitchen that ended it all, and for the wedding that was supposed to take place in that once beautiful back yard. I let my heart break for my mother getting sicker and sicker in that guest room before she died. I just let my heart shatter completely for every wonderful and awful thing that happened to me in that house. I let my heart shatter with the realization that none of it was ever going to change and that this was really and truly no longer my home.
And then I was done. I let go. I closed the door behind me one last time. I gathered up the three skinny cats and put them in my car, and we went home. As the one settled in on my lap and we drove down the interstate, me singing along to the radio, this wave of pure happiness washed over me.
It’s over now. All that bad stuff is over. That house is not my home. As awful as it is, it’s for sure moving in the right direction now. Those renters are gone. I’ve picked up the cats. The crew is starting the rehab on Monday. The house will go back on the market, and it will be sold, and I won’t be paying two mortgages very soon. I know this with all my heart and soul, because I know now, that isn’t my house anymore.