On Monday I got a call from the bank and they have approved us for the HAMP loan modification we applied for. For two years we have not known whether or not we would be able to stay here. We applied for the HAMP a year and a half ago but as I already mentioned they never responded until our bankruptcy file was officially closed. Then we got approved for the trial period a few months ago. We’ve been paying our new rate (not very much lower than the old rate) since then. In case anyone hasn’t heard me mention this before, I don’t deal with having my life unsettled very well. I have been having such a hard time over the last two years not knowing if I was going to be able to stay in my house or if I was going to have to walk away. The financial duress that keeping our house represents is not a lot of fun either but the truth is that our mortgage isn’t any higher than renting a place big enough for four people, 4 cats, and 2 dogs. So with or without the house our income means we’re going to be slogging along uncomfortably, probably for the rest of our lives.
That doesn’t sound very joyous. But all of you who heard the news on Facebook know that I was whooping and hollering with excitement. I AM SO HAPPY TO KEEP MY HOUSE! People, this house is weird, it’s kind of falling apart, and our cul-de-sac is a constant source of concern to our dog who takes her job of protecting us very seriously. Even so, in spite of the financial tightness, all those things I just mentioned – I love this house. In all its weirdness I love it. My office, from which I wrote my first novel, is a queer little room with a funny early 20th century style carpet (though it’s not actually antique at all) and has windows that look down at my monastery garden and are strangely installed starting at the floor molding (makes me think the house was built either by math impaired people or very very short people)… I love this room of mine.
The main thing about the modification of our loan is that it was going to balloon up in just a few years and then become adjustable. We would absolutely have had to move without this modification. So we are feeling very grateful to have gotten approved for it. Not only do we have to thank our bank for participating in this federal loan modification program but we have Obama to thank for setting this program up. That’s right, I have OBAMA to thank for keeping my home.
(Caution: A Wee Rant Ahead)
Back before Obama came into office and we tried doing some kind of modification with our bank, they REFUSED to work with us. That’s right. But then this program was set up and we didn’t take advantage immediately because we were too busy filing bankruptcy and dying inside a little bit every single day with paralyzing fear for what our future might hold. We watched our A+ credit tank downwards into hell. (YES! BEFORE THIS MESS WE GOT INTO WE WERE RELIABLE PEOPLE WITH A CREDIT SCORE ANYONE WOULD ENVY UNLESS THEY HAD ONE HIGHER THAN OURS AND WE EARNED THAT SCORE.) Oh – whoops – got a little off track there. Got distracted by scraps of conversations over the years and bits of articles and op-eds where people suggest that those who fail in any financial way do so because they are bad people and irresponsible and they shouldn’t be helped out of a hole because obviously they are all kinds of crap and pretty much douche-copter mooches. This is not true, of course.
Anyway – THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR HELPING US KEEP OUR HOUSE.
And now we may move on to the hard work ahead. Budgeting is going to be much stiffer. We’ve just let our Kung Fu teacher know that we have to quit taking classes. We have partied with our last bit of beer for a while and when the weekend comes the best we can hope for is cheap wine. Not local. We can’t afford cheddar and jack cheeses (way too pricey for how much must be used to give satisfaction – a little feta goes a lot further to add flavor to a dish for less money per ounce – let’s call this cheese economics in action). We usually buy one or two big blocks of it a week. That’s about $14 in cheese. Fffft! No more. Kung Fu, beer, and cheese have been our three main extravagances in our life for the last couple of years. That and going out to dinner once a week – but we cut that out three months ago down to once a month. Which – you know, we probably can’t do anymore either.
All of this is okay. The great uncertainty is over as far as the bank and our loan and this house and whether or not we have to move is concerned and that’s HUGE. It’s an enormous weight and stress lifted.
I like to think that eventually I’ll find an agent who loves my work and is good at selling it and I will make some extra money for things like Kung Fu classes and fixing the crumbling south facing windows and all that. I like to think things won’t always be so tight and so tough.
But in the meantime I can commit to things like replacing the peach trees that are too weak to do well in our climate. I can commit to clearing the blackberries that are choking our house. I can plan to paint some walls next summer. I can finally really be IN my house. I realized yesterday, while I was thinking about all this that I’ve never had the chance to just BE here. From the first minute we moved in we’ve been plagued and shadowed by difficulties such as the other house not selling, me desperately needing work and then holding five temporary jobs at once (finally ending with the one I’ve had the last three years) and then the bankruptcy and shortly after that realizing that even with the bankruptcy we couldn’t afford our current loan and that even if we could squeeze by with mortgage payments we would have to leave when the loan ballooned in a few years and then dropping all of our health care… not a moment of our being here has felt the least bit permanent and I believe I have been in a non-stop depression and living in a cloud of unprecedented anxiety – even for me. On top of all that there have been the escalating needs of my special needs kid.
Now Max is finally covered with health insurance again and now that we’ve been approved for a modified loan it feels like we’ve finally landed in our own lives again. What amazes me is that through all of that I managed to write two books and to finish one of them.
So here we are. It feels like we’ve just moved in. There is mental crap to unload. The garden is a mess. Much less so since my mom has been living here and working in it. But the brambles have reached skyward and I’ve started removing them. As much as I love blackberries and the abundant and wonderful food they provide – in a city lot they quickly take over. It’s not inconceivable that they will, untended, trap us inside our own house. Instead of being overwhelmed by it I look at my garden as a fresh discovery. Some miserable person let it become overgrown beyond recognition and now it’s my secret garden to clean up and rediscover.
I know the universe too well to suppose we’re headed for sunshine and bliss now. But I’m also wise enough to recognize a beginning and to be thankful for it.