Five minutes is all it would take for our lives to turn around. Chris would receive a phone call offering him the job and I would get a call from our realt*r with a full price offer. In that moment, living in this disintegrating neighborhood in this dying city would give way to packing our things and moving from the desert to the coast. From sweltering heat to ocean. From parched to satiated.
Everyone has a limit of what they can take. I met mine on Thursday.
I had just spent the day wrangling with Savannah at the doctor's office over her shots and the emotional trauma that caused her. Haggard from that experience we picked up sandwiches and headed home to have lunch together. Only, when I returned home there was a message from a realt*r requesting that he be able to walk through with his clients. While the message had been left two hours earlier, I looked at the clock as I listened to him say "one-thirty". It was 1:20.
The house was in the worst shape it has been since we listed four months ago - ironing out, dirty bathrooms, laundry in every room, dishes on the counter, dog hair - you name it, it was messy. We hadn't had anyone walk through in a week and had taken a much needed break from the cleaning. Honestly, we were rebelling.
I hung up the phone and cried "We have ten minutes! MOVE!" to Savannah who had just settled in with her deli lunch to nurse her wounds on the couch. At that precise moment the doorbell rang. It was the realt*r, ten minutes early, and his smiling clients. I implored them to return in ten minutes.
They kindly agreed and waited on the front sidewalk. In front of my house. So that I could see them from my windows.
I raced up and down the stairs, throwing things in cabinets, shoving things into piles, a scrub brush in one hand and a hand-vac in the other. And with every thing I moved to put away, I encountered another mess. Toys and crayons and paints and dolls and gym socks and papers and unmade beds swallowed me as I frantically spun in circles realizing that there was no way I could clean it in ten minutes.
The doorbell rang again.
I swung the front door opened and, obviously flustered with a shaky voice, asked that they come back in a half hour. They hesitated for a second and then said "no problem".
A half hour later Savannah and I flew out the door loaded down with stray coats and books that we hadn't had time to put away upstairs. I was sweaty and barefoot, Savannah was crying, and I was, for lack of a better word, D-O-N-E.
Once I started sobbing, I couldn't stop.
Now, despite what it looks like, I have kept a stiff upper lip about this whole scenario. I'm not so self-absorbed that I think my house not selling is the end of the world. I am well-aware that many people have real problems. I vent my frustrations here as a source of comfort and therapy, but not without realizing that things could be much worse. At the end of the day, I have a great family and friends and enough money to keep me in Starbucks, so it isn't all bad.
As I drove around and around the block, berating myself for the house being messy in the middle of the day and for yelling at my feverish child, I couldn't help but become completely overwhelmed.
We have busted our asses for a year improving and maintaining and presenting this house like a freaking model home. And here comes this realt*r and his eager beaver clients waiting on my doorstep the one time the house is a disaster. The one day I haven't been vacuuming dog hair off the couches all day and polishing the fixtures to a gleam.
I couldn't tell them to re-schedule because it was the only showing we had had all week and every showing may be The One. In this ridiculous buyer's market, you cannot afford to tell anyone to go away. And they know it. Their realt*rs know it. So buyers show up early. Or late. Or not at all. They don't return your calls. They don't apologize. They don't offer explanations. Sometimes they even offer you full price and then disappear.
And they know you'll take it. You'll take it and take it and take it because you can't afford not to.
It was this knowledge, this feeling of utter helplessness, of being at someone else's mercy on their whim that just dismantled the last bit of tolerance I had in me. I called Chris and blubbered like a hyperventilating fool that "I...can't...do...this...any...moooooore!".
I really can't.
It's not that I'm so selfish or so spoiled that I cannot just try to be happy here. It's so much more than that - so many personal factors that I won't bore you with are at play. We know this is not where we belong. We knew it when we moved here. And we know that if we do not get out now, we may never be able to.
When I returned home, there was a message waiting from our realt*r that they didn't like our yard. Out of all the things not to like, our yard. All of my tears and sweat and effort and I never once thought to straighten up the backyard.
Four months today. Happy anniversary, real estate market. Did you get me anything? I could really use a buyer.
UPDATE: As I hit publish, Chris called. He got the job. One down, one to go. We are ecstatic.