There I was, just settled down thinking we had found the right home in the right area, had been there for a year and a half, and were thinking of buying. Another six months and we would be ready. With life settled, I could finally get some serious writing done. Then the Sherrif shows up at the door with this message: "GET OUT!" The message was in the form of an eviction notice giving us three days to be out or be on the sidewalk with our furniture. Right.
I called the bank's lawyer. He had two words for me, "GET OUT!"
This is the same bank where I store my checking account fortune. I knew I wasn't dealing with someone who had our best interests at heart, or even someone dealing with reality. We have a thirty year accumulation of junk that we have carted around the country, moving every two years. I know what it takes to move it. Three days for a moving company, or five days for myself, just to pack it. Two days to load it on a truck, and another day or so to unload it. Then it takes us usually a month to locate a different house. My warped sense of humor got the best of me - I laughed. What else can you do?
I said, "But we have a lease that runs for another six months."
"Can we at least rent the house for another six months?"
"WE DON'T RENT!"
"OK," says I, knowing I'm going to get nowhere arguing with this lawyer: one track mind, man of few words. I decided to tempt him. "We are interested in buying the home."
"SIGN A CONSENT AGREEMENT THAT YOU WILL GET OUT, and we'll think about selling it to you."
Progress - more than three words and his voice actually tapered off. I signed the consent agreement, giving us thirty days.
At the end of thirty-one days I learned that the loan officer, for the same bank, went into a coma, apparently from processing our application. He must have been talking with the lawyer when it happened. He never finished processing the application. Two months later he still isn't back to work. We're at the lawyer's mercy again. I called the lawyer's office and held the telephone receiver away from my ear. "GET OUT!"
"Well, you know I can't just find another home, pack everything, and move it all in three days," I grumbled to him. I badly needed a vacation and someone to complain to. But then, I'm a writer, I'm required to have terrible experiences and suffer more than other people so I will have something to write about because they can't give you a degree in suffering in college. They tried it under Plato and no one would take the course.
"TAKE A WEEK AND GET OUT!"
Knowing this is just another suffering experience and that all will work out in the end, I satisfy myself that I don't have to take it seriously. I'll do the rational thing and offer to try to finance the house through another lender. Of course, the lawyer takes the bait - after all in just thirty days I have performed the miracle of saving up a down-payment.
I know the new loan officer is processing my loan because to every statement I make he responds with "PROVE IT." We sold our previous home and paid it off. "PROVE IT!" The previous financial institutions that I had financed through now couldn't care less about proving to some fanatic loan officer that I really did pay off the loans. They never completed any paperwork on the sale for their records, they say. Thanks a lot - this is after all just more of my suffering experience. I'm suffering a heart attack just so.
I sleep with visions of moving out in three days - compliments of a vindictive lawyer. Moving is like lifting every item of furniture in your house over your head three times, usually at three o'clock in the morning if you are doing it yourself. After three days, half-way up the aluminum ramp leading into the U-Haul you are pronounced dead by a mortician who has been parked just up the block for two days, waiting. He sees a U-Haul driven by someone pushing 50, he automatically follows. U'Haul chasers - they're like ambulance chasers. This is really bad. Serious or no, suffering experience or not, I'M NOT MOVING! Right. I'm really suffering now.
The new loan officer wants to see settlement papers dating back five years. We have moved five times and everything has been mixed, shuffled, lost, bent, spindled, stapled, and mutilated. Other writers tell me they wouldn't be able to find them. I take days off work and sort through more mountains of paperwork than an IRS auditor.
Finally I locate the settlement papers - actually my wife located them in the file in the file cabinet where they were supposed to be. I actually do keep records very well, but don't tell the IRS because they and I have the illusion that I can't find them. I can't. My wife finds them. I talk to even more people. Everyone who is applying for a mortgage is hearing the same thing, "PROVE IT."
Finally a week of calm seas. Yet I am tense, wary, knowing the sky can fall at any moment. Fright or flight has consumed every available white blood cell. I somehow manage to escape a heart attack, but I'm left weak, exhausted, gravely ill, and my sense of humor has eroded to gallows humor. I'm cheered by the sight of headstones - there is an end to this. I have the mortician's card in my pocket so I can go in and make final arrangements any time.
After all, if it wasn't for incidents like this, most of us would still think we were twenty-three and could still change the entire world - through writing or sheer grit and sabres. But for now, tired of pushing up-hill it's, "A little shelter against the wind."
So far I've been a long-suffering gentleman. But just give me a couple of weeks to recuperate and I'm going to get me a law...! Ah, a spark of life. But the temperate side of me counsels, "Wait, it will work out for the best and they'll get theirs."
A few days after we learn the mortgage has been approved we get another call from the lawyer. "We didn't get clear title yet on your house, " he mumbles. Hmmm, thinks I, remembering the lawyer's clear and unequivocal, "WE DON'T RENT!" He can't say, "GET OUT!" but he also can't say, "PAY ME RENT." It might have been more fun if had turned it into a real battle. But I kind of enjoy things turning out well. To his latest I just say, "OK."
So there I was a few months back, going to rewrite Wife For Sale. It's a fun little story with a nice concept of getting over the rough spots in marriage, a little over the top, but fixable. Six years ago I had gotten some good feedback from an Academy Award winning writer with a long and very successful writing career. I planned a new script with major changes, but never could find time to get back to it. But now, I had thought, I would do it right - no hurrying through the script like I usually do. I would develop each scene and sequence well, and write a good story that would at least make it on stage if not as a movie. Right.
Sixty days of searching for papers and homes and wondering each day if we would have to move out in three days. Blood pressure soaring. Life totally interrupted. So now I'm going to write the comedy online, motivated by the delusion that someone may actually be watching so I have to do it even if the sky does fall in. Right.
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