We are homeless. Monday the movers came and boxed our entire home in preparation for our Tuesday move to Lower Twin Lake. Cupboards were bared, beds dismantled, all but laptops safely stowed in movable containers. Our crew would reassemble our bed the next day in the new home, but John and I had each packed a small suitcase with a couple days of clothing, toiletries, pajamas and slippers – oh, and we tucked a coffee mug, wine glass and a bottle of wine into the duffel. We know what’s important, right?
Tuesday… well, Tuesday just needs a ‘do-over’ or maybe not, because we find ourselves incredibly grateful.
When our home on the river sold we located a different property on Craig’s list. It wasn’t perfect, but it was waterfront and I would have two entire lakes to explore on my SUP. The view? Stunning. A boathouse would contain our water toys, the dock would be basecamp to our grandsons’ play in summer. We intended to lease for a year and see if we liked the area.
We met with the owner. He’d remodeled this summer cabin to be a year-round home. We came to agreement on price, a few modifications, timelines for those, finishing with a planned walk-through inspection and exchange of keys the day before the move. We signed the lease and gave our deposit. He was gracious, expansive, helpful with information, and when John mentioned our pastor friend, and a new church in this area – it’s where he went to church. We believed him.
Intuition raised an eyebrow at a businessman’s hotmail address, but was dismissed. First clue.
A month went by, during which we contributed over 500 books to the library, gave furniture to the local youth ranch, and finally looked in boxes we’ve hauled for years deciding what to keep, or not. I arranged for movers, made address changes, set up installation of high speed internet, phones, television, and all utilities.
One by one the promises made and benchmarks agreed upon, failed. My red flags weren’t just waving, they were whipping at hurricane speed. We discovered the house wasn’t finished, his furniture hadn’t been moved and at the 11th hour, he was nonresponsive. My gut was on fire.
The walk-through and key exchange date came and went without our getting either. John and I were not going to move into that house without resolution. The owner refused meet that night, nor the following morning. We were in a completely packed house with movers arriving at 8:00 a.m. Then, the eve of our move at 11:35 p.m. he sent an email saying we’d need to push the move date. The morning of the move, 30 minutes before our crew would arrive, we walked away from the deal.
Ramifications? Stunned paralysis. Tears. Then panic. How could we find ourselves homeless? I felt like we were two little lost kids in a forest with no clue how to find our way out. We reassured ourselves of our decision, but we needed to be fully functional, and my brain had gone on walkabout.
The new owners of the river house we have loved for eight years have graciously allowed us to camp a few days to sort things out. Thank goodness for those suitcases! But here’s where the story really gets interesting. At 9:00, the morning of our supposed move, we went looking for corporate housing in our area, and couldn’t find the leasing office. John walked into a random real estate office to inquire. I waited in the car. He called my cell and said, “You need to come in. Now.”
When we’d explained our situation, thus our need, the realtor said, “May I ask the name of this owner?” I told her. Her eyes widened, shocked. “OMG. You are so lucky you walked away. Running would have been better. Did you give him money?”
“Yes,” I said.
“You know you’ll never see it again. This man is … very bad.”
First angel: I wonder at the odds of walking into an office we’d never noticed before and have a woman know the man from whom we had just extricated ourselves, confirming our decision. Upon further investigation, our contract was under an alias. Yes, this man is a con artist. In point of fact, he was in court under his real name losing a very big lawsuit, which is why he couldn’t be reached, nor do a walk-through. Worse, he’s capable of violence against women, according to police records.
That evening, I joked that here I was at my age experiencing a ‘first.’ No home. John laughed, firing back what about him, at his? Our overwhelming emotion, though, was gratitude. We were so lucky to have had the intuition, fortitude, and strategy (thanks to a “second angel,” my son) to walk away relatively unscathed. We came within a hair’s breadth of taking possession.
Third angel: But life is real, we had no home, and a moving van’s worth full of belongings wondering where to go. Our sweet next-door neighbor drove by and noticed lights. We explained, and she mobilized. Within minutes a cousin of hers called. That cousin and her husband happened to have a furnished house we could rent for a month or two or three – on the river! Our beloved river.
Fourth angel: Eating out yesterday, a necessity at present, our server noted that we’d been in the restaurant more often of late. We shared a truncated version of our story. We finished lunch and asked for our check. That lovely young woman surprised us by saying, “I’m buying you lunch today. No, (at our protest) I mean it.” Another first.
The roller-coaster includes: Relief. Gratitude. Panic. A temporary loss of brain power (mine). Recovery of at least a modicum of equilibrium. Angels. Laughter. Yes, humor went into hiding for a bit, but we found it again. And more gratefulness than I know how to adequately articulate.
Sunday we take possession of our temporary home on the river. We have found storage for our boxed and crated goods. We still need to find our next long-term home. We still . . . well, you know. Life may be complicated but it IS good.