Friday dawned, yes. It was going to be a hot day, and as I looked around the piles of boxes–I’d started packing when they told me the sale was a sure thing, more fool me, there was a crushing writhing snake in my guts. Oh, I’d been through all the stages by now–fear, anger, bargaining, homicidal rage, phobia of death by paperwork, the house isn’t that nice anyway, and my personal favourite, whimpering in the corner and banging one’s head on something solid while weeping pleeeeease just make it stop… So it wasn’t anything new.
Yeah, the mortgage broker told me it was going to be stressful. What he didn’t tell me–because he couldn’t–was that a lot of the stress comes from a feeling of profound and utter helplessness. You have signed papers, written letters, provided documentation, exposed your financial (and aspects of your personal) life to a soulless worm-machine that ticks its way with tortuous slowness through a maze largely built of its own slick and foul accretions, blindly consuming all in its path and moving with no more rhyme or reason than a vengeful, lunatic sky god or blind Lovecraftian tentacled horror. (R’yleh! Fnargh! Zort! Narf!) You hear nothing for weeks at a time, and when you do hear something, it’s just asking for minutiae you’ve already provided but some impish gremlin has apparently eaten while your coffee-stained file was jammed in someone’s dusty cabinet.
Hyperbole? Maybe. But only by a fraction, mind you.
But this particular Friday, the worm-machine had apparently decided I wasn’t any more fun to play with, since I’d stopped resisting. (Well, and I was prepared to walk away from the whole damn thing and rent for the rest of my natural-born, too.) I got a call. Can you come in and sign at 1pm?
You bet your sweet bippy I could. But after I got that call, I started making other calls. Just to make sure everyone knew that we had a deadline, I was signing at 1, and by God, if there was something someone needed, they needed to TELL ME NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE BECAUSE IF YOU DO NOT AND THIS GETS BUGGERED UP I WILL BE ON THEE LIKE WHITE ON RICE AND TRUST ME, SUNSHINE, THAT WILL NOT BE PLEASANT FOR YOU, THANK YOU AND GOOD DAY.
You get the idea. And it’s a good thing I did, too. You’d think people who did this for a living would be more proactive. But anyway.
Several smaller hurdles surmounted, I set off with no little trepidation a little late, because I’d been on the phone with someone mopping up the last of said hurdles. Traffic–oh, noon-thirty on a Friday, why do you taunt me so?–was bad, and I made it there a couple minutes behind, muttering and virtually daring anyone to say one damn word about how I was a couple minutes late when they had been stringing me along for two goddamn months.
I will say I was not in my most graceful mood ever. I was determined to be pleasant. We made small talk for a little while, then were shown into an office. The stack of paper was produced, a pen clicked into readiness, and I began to sign.
But the worm-machine wasn’t done with me yet. It made another attempt. I glanced down at a new stack of papers I was handed and my heart sank.
“There’s only one L in the middle of my first name,” I said, tentatively.
“What?” The lady across the desk blinked. “Is it…”
“These have two. Those have one, they’re fine. But these have two Ls in the middle of my first name.”
The mortgage broker said something under his breath. The escrow lady looked at my realtor, who looked at me. Our gazes met, and I think something broke inside my realtor that day.
She began to laugh.
After a second, I did too. It was just so absurd. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Meanwhile, the escrow lady got on the phone and informed someone at the other end that she needed those documents done properly, and yes she knew it was a Friday, but if she did not get them she was going to personally visit whoever-it-was next week. Apparently this threat was deemed sufficiently dire to overcome any and all reluctance, for the corrected documents arrived less than fifteen minutes later, and her small iron-clad grin told me that she was both happy she did not have to make good on said threat…and also, a little disappointed. (Note to the fellow on the other end of that call: good job, dude. You lived to fight another day.)
Anyway, I finished signing the stack of papers, handed over a cashier’s check for *mumbleungodlyamountmumble* and sat there, waiting for the sky to fall or something.
It didn’t. I cautiously gripped the arms of my chair. “So, uh, what happens next?”
It turned out I was a homeowner at that point, but (the worm-machine had to add one last sadistic twist) I wouldn’t get the keys until the loan funded, which would be…
…you guessed it, after the weekend. A weekend I survived, and it took until Tuesday for me to finally hold the key of my new domicile in my fear-moistened little paw. At which point I was too emotionally exhausted to feel anything but weary befuddlement.
Until I said goodbye to the realtor, shut the door of what was MY house, now, and ran into the living room. I threw myself down on my back, stared up at the ceiling, and made a carpet angel. A pretty nice one too, and I spent the first few moments alone in my new house just staring at the ceiling. My ceiling. My new ceiling.
And then I cried.
But I’m not going to tell you about that.