Background: It took 10 years and a college degree to get here.
Here is the family home we left behind in Riverside, Calif. after we worked on it all those years, fixing it up how we liked it- just before we decided to sell:
Yay! Here is what the kids did after they found out we were moving just before their senior year of high school:
Today...(written in summer '09): the sky is blue and the ground is saturated with what rained down last night. I had to stay up late to comfort the dogs from constant rumbling and booms from lightening and it was fascinating- but a little too close for comfort or sleep. Even the horse wanted some companionship. I'm noticing that the manure piles don't smell very fresh today... but otherwise we're grateful for the water. That may be the one good thing I can say right now.
I had an entire website devoted to the scenic views that surround us here- and I could always appreciate that before - suddenly since the economic downturn, sometimes it's more BITTERSWEET to look (I have since taken it down)...
It’s easy these days to feel overwhelmed with negativity; the uncertainty of so many things in our lives, the feeling of no control of our destiny. I often struggle to suppress and overcome those oppressives.
Up until the end of ’09, we struggled to spread our jobs between 3 people working for us, when there was only enough for one – we have since returned to working alone, just me and hubby. (Our previous employees struck out on their own as competitors and didn't last a year.)
We're so extended, so tight, that IF we could get our house payments down by ½ (probably impossible, but the mortgage bank/servicer OFFERED help thru a modification- which has become a nightmare)... then we'd still be on the edge all the time, able to pay monthly bills but with emergency car repairs or extra snow plowing, we would never getting ahead and will struggle to stay on top of things.
Of course, just “letting go” of our home is a tempting thought – we would be much better off without this house around our necks -but it’s not practical to just walk away, even if we will NEVER recoup our investment. And letting the banks 'win' - after what we poured into getting here, well, that's hubby's highest motivation to keep fighting.
At first we thought that IF we could just hang on until the economy turns around and sell this house…even to break even, we would be satisfied. But that hope faded as home values declined and houses in the area are on the market for a year at those reduced prices… (and we have just discovered that this house was over-valued to begin with). Either way we lose.
We don’t expect anyone to ride in on a white horse to save us, but our banks have all the power to change things, and we don’t have that power, we have only a small amount of hope for their willingness to extend a fair deal. Not that I expect fairness out of this mess, and it may be an exercise in futility, but hope does remain that they might consider that what's beneficial to us would be so for them (if one less loss to them even matters, since they’ll continue to get bailed out no matter what).
There is the well-known tendency of servicers to “lose” paperwork, where borrowers request (literally send in a letter to beg) for a mortgage modification, short-sale, or deed-in-lieu. The bank then uses delay tactics — rather than just answering “no” to a request --because they rarely say yes— makes sense to them in the context that leaving a house in foreclosure limbo, forever, is the only solution that delays their inevitable balance sheet busting write-off!
Their decision will determine OUR decision, therefore we are at their mercy.
At the mercy of the wolves…
IF ONLY the postcard views of the sky, mountains, deer, eagles, and snowfall outside was enough. But you can see, it's not really quite enough.
It too often seems our plans to build up this place, to sustain ourselves on it and create it so that it helps to pay for itself by producing things, are all scribbled out.
This place was meant to heal us, but not to sustain us.
So yes, I do want out of it, but it is only a question of “at what price will it be”?
IF the bank will grant us decent ‘re-mortgage’ terms, we could hang on until we could sell...shall we guess, in five or even 10 years?
We’ve already been here that long, fighting to stay afloat almost the entire time. But it would save the trouble of moving and starting over, of paying someone else’s mortgage, saving our option to reinvest somewhere else... of being saved from loss, just like they(the banks) were.
We are much wiser now in many ways- and more informed. It would be hard to pull the wool over our eyes with any predatory lending practices (as we were ignorant of therefore fell victim to).
But that doesn’t help anything right now. It all depends on what the bank ends up offering us before we go belly-up. It’s about getting a 2nd chance - without having to start over (at 50) from scratch. That is not an easy thing, especially if you are striving for self-sufficiency.
In a way, we are STUCK in this house … and at this point it looks hopeless, with no other options open -- except what will cost us everything, somehow.
But whatever happens, this experience will show me my own colors- what I’m made of.
Taking the Reins (determined in 2010)...
We’ll be OK wherever we end up, and make it work for us, whatever it is that happens.
That is the next logical step. Doing something with the knowledge that everything will work out in the right way for us- what does that mean?
It means living in the moment, relying on what hope I possess - and with practicality- preparing for the worst that can happen (worst in the sense of the biggest change- needing to move).
In other words, it means continue living life as if we were only renting here.
Not investing time or money in the house (repairs or upgrades), or in building anything (like a chicken coop), or even on property improvements (fencing, gravel, finishing the attic…)
It means taking care of the basics (food, car repairs, utility bills).
That’s taking the reins loosely in hand; we have the power to change course and decide the next direction and not wait until Fate decides for us. It may not be the only solution, but it is a measure of control for now.
I'm coming to terms with that; we’re in it for the duration of the ride - or we'll be letting the 'horse' loose back into the wild, stepping out of the saddle and taking off on foot.
I may not be able to see what’s ahead beyond the next bend, but the view is nice from up here, and the companion by my side is one worthy to cross the river with – when the time comes. Even if the river is raging, we won’t fall in and drown- because of each others’ support.
Whatever ends up, I can only make it as comfortable as possible.
Meantime, it’s only right to reap whatever are the benefits of our long hard labor –whether or not it means we keep this house. To live in the moment given, to take in these awesome views, to savor every last sign, and change and challenge of the seasons -
A baby bear on the fence (we've had 2 different cubs in 2 years walk that fence)
- all of the good things about being here, while we can. It is true that you will begin to notice more the beauty that you are about to lose…..everything suddenly becomes more meaningful as you memorize it for the last times and your heart feels wretched.
(How tired can you ever get of seeing double rainbows that stretch across the front of the house when the sun sets during monsoon season)?
It has been such a heartfelt battle, and I had leaned on the hope that it was time for some good in our lives; something we could celebrate; something that would keep reminding us to fight. Where do we keep finding the energy to fight at all; asking when…WHEN….will things ever fall into place and ever get back to good?
We are simply stuck here at the Starting Gate, now next to so many others in their own gates, waiting… and learning to live with/deal with/get over: the desperation, the fear, the anger, the sense of hopelessness.
So I will still Dream in Color, because that’s all I can do- it will be good in some ways, it is good in some ways, and that is because of what I make of it.
Isn’t that what I’ve been aspiring to all along?
I'd be pleased to hear what you dream of and aspire to!