52 weeks of gratitude complete! When I started this weekly email, it felt so daunting and a little scary. I was worried about a year-long commitment. What if I got sick? Or tired? Or didn’t feel grateful? Could I really pull this off?
But it turns out that it was fine. In fact, it was better than fine. The 52 weeks of gratitude added a dose of happiness to my life. And my trusty sidekick, Vanessa (who scheduled EACH AND EVERY email, as well as creating the fantastic web tip for you each week) deserves an enormous shout-out – she kept the whole thing on track and kept me accountable. In fact, a few times she had to jump on late on a Thursday night to get the email ready to go out to you on Friday at 12:01 AM! And never once did she complain…
But now, it’s time to give you more.
I’m going to write a weekly story for you that you’ll actually WANT to read. (At least, that’s my hope). I am going to weave real-life anecdotes with research that I’ve gathered from the books and articles that I read. If all goes as planned, these little weekly stories will be:
- Easy to read
- Not “preachy” or pompous
- Possibly give you something to think about
We will still have the Web Tips and the Real Estate Tips – They will now come first in the email.
Now, here’s your first story:
How I bought my first house; or, My Own Adventures in Real Estate.
When I was twenty-six or so, my (now ex) husband and I desperately wanted to own a home. We lived in the rural mountains of Eastern Washington state, and even back then, it was hard to find a decent place to rent.
We thought we’d hit the jackpot with a cute little “rent to own” place we found in Mazama, part of a densely wooded planned development with it’s own pool and reasonable privacy for such small lots. It was cute and clean and we were thrilled.
Unfortunately, the owner wanted to have his cake and eat it too – when the year was up, and we wanted to take all the “rent” that was supposed to be applied to the down payment and get a bank loan for the rest, the landlord abruptly said “Go to hell!” He wanted to carry the contract at over 10% interest – and refused to consider a traditional purchase on our part.
Denied and at the end of our lease, we were scared. We didn’t have a backup plan and there wasn’t many properties to look at.
But we called a real estate agent and started looking. Unfortunately, our budget was …. Miniscule, and after several days of looking at crummy shack after crummy shack, we started feeling defeated. But the agent told us we had one more to look at, nearly 45 miles further south than where we started. One last chance, I told myself.
As we drove up the long, winding driveway of what would one day become the home of my dreams, I gasped. The thick forest around was full of “Methow Sunflowers” – arrowleaf balsamroot. It was May, and they were in full bloom. It was so thick and yellow and gold, it looked like the sun had tipped over and was shining from the ground back up to the sky.
I fell in love right then and there.Have you ever heard the phrase, love is blind?
Yup, that was me. Blind to the…. flaws.
The house smelled like a combination of dog pee and stale cigarettes, the result of years of chain-smoking and an incontinent Jack Russell. Piles and piles of metal, garbage, junk and glass littered the entire fifteen acres. The linoleum was cracked and the breaker box for the house was, inexplicably, located under the leaking kitchen sink (?!??!)
On moving-in day, we showed up all excited – to find that the owner had left us a mess so huge, so immense, it was near-mythic to behold. A bloated deer carcass was tossed by overflowing garbage cans filled with rotting food. An old truck was overturned and left to languish in the woods. The carpets were soaked in urine. We found a family of bats living in the attic and the smell of wam bat guano joined the symphony of odors inside. And as I was trying to clean the bathroom shower, I inadvertently grabbed the previous owner’s full colostomy bag, left hanging in the shower, with my bare hands.
I still shudder to think of that moment.
Today, nearly 18 years later, my little cabin is clean and neat and smells. We relocated the bats. We replaced the carpets. We got rid of the junk, which honestly took us years to accomplish. We added decks and a hot tub and cleared out the lilacs and added a pond and a huge garden. We built a treehouse. We never, ever got a Jack Russell.
But every May, just like the very first one, I see the carpet of flowers on the forest floor blooming wildy, exuberantly, foolishly yellow and gold, and it looks like the sun has tipped over onto the earth and is shining back up on the sky.