Battered and Fried

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'!".

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.


Linsey said...

CONGRATULATIONS on the job!!! That is good news!!! I am right there with you every step of the crappy way in the market. We are celebrating 6 months and the second time listing in the last 18 months this week!!! It is the worst relationship I have ever had.

Lisa said...

Congrats on the new job!!!
I am sure someone may have suggested this so I apologize in advance but on th off chance you haven't been asked have you tried to do a lease-purchase??

Janssen said...

Hoooooooooray! I'm so thrilled for you. You both deserve things to go right for you. Things will work out. . .I know they will. We're all rooting for you!

Nic said...

Oh Lena, big hugs and sell vibes. I am SO happy about the job though. SO happy! Congrats

islaygirl said...

first of all YES to chris and the job. excellent. i am fist-pumping in the air, and i don't do that.

second, i hear you sister on the house and the crying and the one time you're not ready, there they are. i hear you. i hear you. it still makes me pissed off when i think of the stress we lived under for months like that. but it will end. you just don't know when.

Poppy said...

Congrats on the new J O B for Chris!!!!

Now to get the house sold! Here's hoping it won't be long now!

Lena said...

I know. I am really trying to think positively and creatively about how to get this sold. (Translation: selling all my things on Ebay)

chirky said...

Ugh. I feel the stress just READING this. Lena, I really, really, really hope someone makes an offer soon.

(And congrats to Chris!)

janet said...

my husband just got a job too! yay for jobs! now we are in the real estate market...I would so totally buy your house...if perhaps it was on the other coast?

good luck...I mean it!

Shelby said...

Lena, I'm almost in tears for you! I'm so happy that the job has worked out. I hope that this bit of fabulous news helps the hurt of trudging through the muck that is the real estate market these days. I check back every day to see if you've sold the house. Sending you good sell vibes too...

Samantha said...

Congratulations on the job! YAY!

I am crossing every body part that can be crossed that you will sell this house like yesterday.

Good luck!

Lena said...

Lisa - We are considering a lease option. I'm not sure it would make much difference though in this market.

Beth said...

Any chance Chris' new company will buy the house if it doesn't sell? I know some companies do that.

Heather B. said...

Ooh I do that too; sob when completely overwhelmed with stress. Your so good at expressing the stress that I can feel it 3,000 miles away and now I'm all freaked out about things. So! Thanks!

Also, Congrats on the J-O-B!

Melissa said...

Oh God I feel you.

(So glad the job part of the equation has fallen into place.)

Frema said...

Lena, I swear I was going to cry for you until I saw your update. Congratulations on Chris's new job! May all your real estate dreams come true.

blog Portland said...

Awesome news for you and Chris! It sounds like this is the start of a thaw from the Winter of life. Look forward to Spring and Summer; good times all around. Seriously, it's about to happen.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the job! Hang in there. I know it's hard. I know the buyers are mean and rude. I can "hear" your desperation, and my heart hurts for you. I know what it is to be where you belong. You will get there. You really will. A buyer will come. They will like it. They will try to pay less than full price. You will come to an agreement you can live with. They then will try to make crazy closing demands. I promise. They will even love your yard.

PS: When we were house shopping, I considered dog hair a sign of good taste. Also, I was perfectly capable of looking past other people's stuff to see the bones and the potential of my stuff in it. There are more of me. I swear it.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Things are looking up! Congrats on the job.

As for the rest of the post, I'm too stressed to comment about it. ;)

MommasWorld said...

Aww that is a lot to go through in one afternoon.

YEAH on the job!!! You should celebrate!! Things are looking up for you.

jen from boston said...

this post stressed ME out. only then to have the YARD bethe complaint? I'd bawl, too.

see this is why I'm glad I don't have to "sell" my rented apt. t ohave it clean, all 4 rooms - like they mean all the time, right? I would not fare so well.

Anyway, congrats to Chris for the job, that's awesome.

Kim said...

For starters, Lena, I totally feel your pain. We've had the house on the market for 18 months. 18 months of cleaning and picking up and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Recently the appt. desk called and said someone would be coming to look on Saturday between 1:00 and 2:00. We spent the morning cleaning the crap out of the house, because as you said it could be The One. At noon, as we were mopping floors, a car pulled up. I went outside to stop them from coming to the door since the floors were all wet and all the rugs and chairs were piled up. The realtor says, "Excuse me, I have an appointment." I said, "Yes, but I was told 1:00." She says, "We are running ahead of schedule and we'd like to see it now." And I say, "Okay, can we have like 20 minutes? We have been working to be ready for you at 1:00." AND SHE SAYS: "Look, you can just save us a whole lot of time. Do you have a view out your backyard? Because she wants a yard with a view, not just shrubs or a wall." And I could have committed murder right there on my front walk. Seriously. Of course we have a view, of shrubs, dammit! So she left WITHOUT EVEN COMING THROUGH THE HOUSE. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover it. And how did we soothe ourselves? Big Macs.

Congratulations on the job for Chris! At least there is some sunshine among the shadows!

Amy said...

YAY!!!!! I will take Rainbow Sherbert from Baskin Robbins in a waffle cone...thank you :)

Lena said...

Kim - I'm shaking. Seriously. Shaking.

Virenda said...

I don't know how you manage it and I hope and pray that things turn your way.

Selling in this market is apparently a slow form of torture....

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you put some of your things in storage, it would sell. We finally gave up and moved into our new house and the relator showed it alot more with it empty and it looked larger.
It is a lovely house..It will sell.

Vaguely Urban said...

Oh. my. god. I was literally hunched into a stressed little mound by the time I got to the bottom of that post. and then when I read the update my hand flew to my chest like a little old lady.

So happy for that ending. You can breathe a bit now, and so can I!

Megan said...

Delurking to tell you that I feel for you. I did what just did everyday for two years! TWO YEARS to sell our stupid little house! I know that feeling of getting a last second phone call and having everything be a disaster. I did the mad dash cleaning too many times. Dishes, laundry, toys etc. everywhere. You couldn't walk through the mess and ignore it. Each time, I berated myself for not being better. I had two small children in our tiny 900 sq ft house and it was too much for me to handle trying to sell it and trying to keep it clean with the littles undoing everything I did as soon as I did it. When you are trying to sell your home, it's like it's not your home anymore. You can't do what you want because of all the "what if today's the day!" questions. I too would rebel. I wouldn't do anything for days and then I would get that dreaded yet oh so wanted call.
We finally sold our home. We paid to get out. It took almost a year before we moved into another home because I vowed that I would never, ever want to sell a home again. The thing that I learned through all that waiting and crying and stressing was that when the house sold, it was supposed to. Everything worked out the best it could. I was expecting our 3rd child and we knew that we didn't have space for the baby. We moved quickly and had a place to go so we could take our time looking for another home. I didn't like the schools at our home either. Somehow, it worked in our favor and my kids got into a very good school with wonderful teachers. I was so thankful for that. As much as I hated people telling me that "It will happen when it's supposed to." and "Your house will sell.....someday.", it all worked out. You have the right to have a hard time because it is really hard to handle. It presses on your shoulders day and night. Congratulations on the job! Sounds like a much needed relief. At risk of getting a drop kick to the head, good luck with the house and I hope that it all works itself out soon.

Anonymous said...

YAYYY! Lena!! I'm so glad Chris got the job!!!
And you know what, f*** the damn house- forget cleaning it and maybe someone will walk in and think they have to "rescue" the poor thing from the deadbeat housekeeper...

Mrs. W said...

It will happen, eventually. My husband's house (that he still owned with his ex) was on the market for almost 2 years. But it worked out in the end.

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