Bye, Calypso

One hundred and seventy eight pages of documents to sign--signatures indicated by colorful sticky flags.

A friend is almost a year ahead of us in the renovation journey. Journey is her word.

She’s been at this way longer than us, which makes sense given the (huge) scope of her project. But her identification of journeys seems to have some universality. She has named the design journey, the finance journey, the downsize journey and the journey of the build. There may be more as they are revealed to her. I’m sitting at the foot of her throne of wisdom, waiting for her to drop more knowledge.

Yesterday, we did our finance journey. Or, at least, a major part.

We had one-hundred and seventy eight pages of forms and contracts and acknowledgements and clauses and hold harmlesses and a smattering of goofiness that all needed to be signed.

So, today, I will tell you some of the things we agreed to.

  • We won’t run a meth lab on the property.
  • We won’t do any nuclear energy experiments, either.
  • We will buy insurance to protect against fire. And locusts. And fire hail. We didn’t need flood insurance, so no protection against a river of blood.
  • We will show how we would sign our names with and without middle initials.
  • I wouldn’t demonstrate how I would sign my name misspelled. Seemed counter-productive.
  • We initialed four different documents that said we saw four different credit reports. Each of us did that. That was sixteen of the pages.
  • We gave our lender permission to ask the IRS information about us that we already provided to them from the IRS.
  • We did that a second time, too, but this time as a married couple. So there was a total of three forms saying the same thing to the IRS about information that was already in the file.
  • We said we were not terrorists. And this is true because we signed a form with our drivers license numbers.
  • We signed a paper saying we were married. I did laugh out loud for that one, especially since the Spouse refused to acknowledge our relationship on Facebook for years.
  • We put our initials on a bunch of pages. The Spouse dogged me for missing one. The notary found one the Spouse missed and let me pay his snark back. I liked that guy.

There were many more pages and affirmations and agreements and promises in the finance journey. Yet it is all simply the prelude to the writing of the checks. Now, signing those lines feel like the real Odyssey. Next journey, up. I hope we didn’t piss off Poseidon.

End of Book I

The front yard and front porch. Stylized.

It is officially real. After pouring over the plans. After nitpicking the locations of each electrical outlet and switch by posting up in the hall and peering past what would be darkness but would be lighter because it will be like that.

After staring and staring and staring, again, at the simply white versus white cabinet paint and shuffling those samples along with the tile swatches–in this case white v. biscuit–from dining room to kitchen, from sunlight to cloudy day, to overhead fixture “on,” only to full-circle back to the original selection that was recommended by our guide. 

After sweating the doors that I couldn’t tell the difference between for an extra thousand dollars. After learning that paint selection comes at the very end. And, after kicking the decision about our floors down the road. 

After all that, we signed the contract. It was the contract and the drawings and the biggest check I ever wrote out myself, accompanied by a handshake to seal the deal all pulled close to my chest. To my center. 

It’s the big checkpoint in the game. We have reached a new, boss level, and there’s no going back. Unless we start a new game. But why would we? I like this player, and the progress is in the right direction. 

And, importantly, everyone is still breathing. Sounds like we should play on, player.  Boom shakalaka. 

The Vapors

The fireplace and hallway. See the peaceful Buddha

Sometimes I feel like it’s not just the house that is coming under fix-it.

On Friday, the contract proposal was announced by a flicker of blue on the right side of my screen. At that moment, I was reading about category management–because that’s actually a thing–and the quick slide in and out at the corner of my laptop almost escaped me.

Except not really. It was after 5 pm. To be fair, it was just barely. Like 5:04:21 pm or so. I was expecting the email. They said I’d get it by the end of the week. This firm is all about making commitments. I really like that about them.

The email was here and wasn’t going anywhere, so I followed a link to an HBR article about new-fangled procurement models. This is a joke in that I don’t know anything about old-fangled procurement models. I was studying.

The Spouse was on his ongoing work-about, in which he works for daze on end sans respite. But he does have running water. And coffee. It’s not the Outback. It’s The Mall.

My brain was twitching just behind my right eye. It wanted to open the email. It saw that glimpse of aqua and processed the letters to see that they were in the right place–like a partially completed crossword puzzle–to expose the name of our Project Manager.

Open. Open. Open.

The reptilian part of my brain was shutting down that idea. There would be nothing good exposed via that email. My internal crocodile knew that we had blown significanltly past our original scope. The number would be huge. To survive we should slither-swim by. With half-closed eyes. Our tails waving goodbye.

Open. Open. Open.

Enough croc-brain! I have the smelling salts in hand. I opened the email. And I sucked air. But I was still breathing.

The next few days I walked around with a new hallway, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, a new deck, a new den, a new office, a new staircase swirling around in my head. I really liked it.

I also turned the finances around and around and around. It seemed fair for the work. It’s still huge. Like a big rock wall in the desert. How to get to the other side? I couldn’t sleep.

I never can’t sleep.

Big decisions are so hard. What we can do can be different than what we should do. Capacity is as much about pushing limits as being within limits. I turned to Dad.

My dad hated debt. He didn’t want to have obligations hanging over him. He was adamant about keeping things in good repair. He’d replace a roof at year 14 of a 15 year lifespan. He mowed his lawn and shoveled his walk. He was responsible and sober.

As I walked to the subway, I wondered what my father would say about this big investment.  I began the budget analysis, and I heard his words. They were coming from behind my right ear, from the back of my head. It was about those shoes. He was speaking clearly.

In middle-school, I wanted a pair of shoes. They were white and had teardrop cutouts next to the buckles. They would be my first pair of high heels. Many girls at school were wearing these very shoes. At my behest, Dad drove me to Bakers Shoes. I tried on the desired pump. I walked up to him and asked him if he liked them. He said, “If you like them, buy them.”

If you like them, buy them.

Dang. I was feeling like Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams hearing his daddy’s voice in the cornfield.

If you like them, buy them.

That was it. He was telling me to follow my heart. Not the money.

I wasn’t expecting that. Not at all.

I’m not saying that my dad actually gave me advice. I know that he’s been dead for nine years. I know that. That said, I think that he was telling me something.

I told you. This is not just about the house.