Monday, November 24, 2008

Crashing Back To Earth After Living The Dream

They came on Saturday. The first angry words I had been keeping behind my tight lips. I have spent days keeping these words under wraps mulling them over and over in my mind. I wasn’t really angry at Darryl. I was angry at the situation in which I found myself.

Darryl has been bugging me for the past few days to let him show me houses that he would like us to look at in three to five years when this is all but a distant memory. “Cathy we could get an even bigger house then. I think we may have paid too much for the view here. The home owners association here was really getting to me.”

I let it go through me and said nothing. In my mind the reality of the decision had already been made. We would be moving back to our home in Cartersville. I HATE that home. Perhaps Darryl is partly right. The home in Cartersville does have some bad memories for me. I remember when we were going through bankruptcy and I was wondering why in the HELL we had bought that house when he knew he couldn’t afford it. He argued with me about how he needed the space for his business inventory. He argued about what a great deal this house was. He’d ramble on endlessly about how much better the Cartersville home was than the home in Rome . The home in Rome had a pool. Well he’d argue, the home in Cartersville home had a pool. In reality, said pool was little more than a glorified frog pond. We’d clean in out and get the pool working he promised. Not this summer he’d promised, next summer.

The kitchen in the Cartersville home made me want to cry. Even the kitchen in my parent’s home had been nicer. The kitchen was one of those important rooms to me. Heck even women who hated to cook wanted a nice kitchen. This kitchen had rotted cabinetry and a stained sink. It was lacked light and had virtually no counter space. It depressed me just to look at that room. Not too long after I moved things into the pantry, mice had gotten into my food. He promised he would redo my kitchen. “You wait,” he’d say, “After we get through with this bankruptcy we’ll be better off and I’ll do the kitchen anyway you want.”

I used to visit the kitchen I wanted to have at the Lowes. I imagined myself cooking in the fancy double oven and my food would be stored in the beautiful pantry with moveable storage cabinets. When I asked months later when the kitchen would happen he began talking about other things that were more important. When I broke down and cried he finally took me to look at designing a kitchen. We got the price tag and that’s the last we talked of a new kitchen. I remember saying, “What if I won the money for a new kitchen, can we do it then?” No. Darryl was already looking into another business that he wanted. We needed money for this or that even if I won money it would be sucked into that money hole that was his business. He was able to buy himself a new truck though.

Downstairs the floors were brick. There was a moldy smell of dampness, and oh before I forget they wallpapered the bathroom with the ugliest paper they could find. We’d paint it he’d promised. I was told to begin pulling down wallpaper but since the begin date of the painting never got nailed down I didn’t pull down the wallpaper. I figured it was better to see the ugly wallpaper than to see the white sheetrock.

Things looked up one day when he agreed to buy me a camper. I had always wanted one. I couldn’t believe that we were finally going to do it. We went to a RV & Camper Show. He seemed to be interested. He took me to see campers. He bought himself a new truck even though the other one wasn’t that old. The day we bought the camper I came so close to touching it and making it real that I could scarcely breathe. Imagine, I thought, I’d go camping, maybe take the grandkids. If I could get the camper, maybe it wouldn’t make such a big deal to me about the kitchen or the pool. I could camp somewhere that I could swim; finally I would get to see some of Georgia .

We’d been living here for a few years and we still hadn’t seen much of Atlanta . Most of what I had seen of Georgia was from traveling for work. I was beside myself. My car was paid off and I figured that this camper would take the place of a new car payment. He actually bought it and then the grousing began almost immediately. He hated this that or the other thing about the trailer. This that or the other thing was wrong with the trailer.

We went on exactly two trips with the trailer. One was to my parent’s house. The other was camping at Amicalola Falls . He then began pestering me until we finally sold it. I felt like I’d been sucker punched. It seemed like when he wanted a business or a new vehicle there was money for that. For me there was no money to go to the zoo, the aquarium, new clothes, curtains, or a kitchen. Now we needed to sell the camper because he said it would cost us too much to keep. It reminded me of his mother who might give you something only to take it away.

When I was young my mom used to take us to model homes sometimes. I imagined what it would be like to live in these homes. What would the schools be like? Who would be my neighbors? I loved to look at model homes. Now without the camper I was back to looking at pretend kitchens. I would imagine myself winning enough money to get this feature or that feature, knowing all the while I would be lucky, no matter what I won, for Darryl to say sure let’s do the kitchen.

Darryl would take me to look at the homes and then gets angry with me because I would suck in my breath when I’d be inside some of those beautiful homes. “Why do you act like that?” He’d ask. He’d be angry if I told him the truth so I kept it close to my chest. The fact was I knew I would never have something so nice. I dreamed too large. I’d come home avoid the big frog pond out back and walk through the kitchen trying to get my eyes to avoid my kitchen. I would pretend that the stained counters that sagged in places were granite. I would refuse to open the cabinet under the sink to reveal the sub-flooring that showed through the rotted holes. In my head my pantry allowed me to step inside and I’d grab food without checking first for mice.

Darryl was blind to all my complaints. Complaints about mice would bring offers to take me to McDonalds every night. There was no use arguing over any of this. All I had was my forays out into the model homes. It was my escape. It was like a big Sears & Roebuck catalog that I could dream about. Then one day I slipped. I stood in the kitchen running my hand along the granite counter. The house had been staged and on one counter stood a mixer with a cookbook open near-by. Over to one wall was a desk. I imagined I would love a desk in my kitchen. I thought how it might be to have my computer set up so I could work on sweeps while fixing dinner. The house had a keeping room with a fireplace and the words slipped out. “I’ll never have something as nice as this.”

I regretted the words almost as soon as they came out. “What do you mean? Look we could afford this house. It’s not like we couldn’t afford this house.” Darryl said annoyed. “Well maybe we could but we certainly aren’t living in a house like this. I doubt I ever will.” I was so over it. I would live the way I was living. There was nothing wrong with dreaming. We all dream. We all want. I accept what I have and who knew, maybe one day I would win the kitchen I wanted. Maybe one day. The gauntlet was thrown down. Darryl began to look for a home that he that he thought I would love.

This time, the trailer had taught me a lesson. We would look, he’d make it seem like we were going to get something and then it would be snatched back. I wasn’t up to having that happen again. I didn’t get emotional about any house we looked at. There were many beautiful homes. One even had a stream flowing behind it and a pool only a block away. It was when we actually made an offer on a house I panicked.

No problem I thought. No mortgage company in their right mind would lend us money to buy a house. We owned the house in Rome still. OK we had a renter but still. We made an offer on these beautiful homes that reminded me of Rock Creek. They had beautiful ceilings and transoms. The living room with the big windows was breath-taking. Our offer was turned down. No big deal. I knew it was out of our price range. Move on I thought. Get passed it. Instead we began to look in earnest.

We found the house on Evening Mist Drive by accident. Darryl had just wanted to show me the castle that was across the street. Formidable to say the least. There was no front porch but the back deck had a gorgeous view. As a matter of fact, every room offered a beautiful view of the valley below. It was way too much. He wanted to make them a low-ball offer. Fine I thought again. It’s not like we will get it. Really it was like the lottery game to me. “What if I won the lottery?” We walked through the other houses that were on the same side of the street. The castle was the most expensive.

Out of curiosity we walked into our house. It’s interesting how reality and dream can conflict and change. The living room had a huge fireplace and windows that looked out onto the screened in porch. The kitchen was huge and bathed in natural sunlight. I imagined us entertaining friends and neighbors in our new home. People would say “Oh Cathy what a beautiful kitchen!” Upstairs was a loft where you could watch the sunrise and I imagined it would be my office area. I would have a desk, a settee and book cases. Downstairs the master bedroom had a bathroom with a jetted garden tub. The floor was tiled and the shower was big enough for both of us. The price of the home was on the counter. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. Darryl had said we could afford more than that but this house was so beautiful.

“How much do you think this one goes for?” I asked. He couldn’t believe when I told him. The offer was made. It was accepted. I still didn’t put any emotional baggage in the decision. After losing it with the camper I was just going to accept it and move on with my life. It had been fun and I figured after this we would speak in future speak again about how one day we would have a home that nice. I was amazed when the financing was approved. I didn’t know how we would do it. Just last summer there had been no money for me to have a camper but now there was money for a home.

I could scarcely believe it. I tried to knock the deal off the table. “What about the Cartersville house?” I said. Even as I said it I hoped that it would spontaneously combust the moment we moved out. Yet amazingly enough I found myself at the table signing the papers for my new house. I cried at closing. Darryl chided me for it saying it made it look like we couldn’t afford the house. I didn’t think I could.

I moved in and we began working on making the home mine. Bit by bit, piece by piece I bought some rugs to protect the hard wood floors when they were on sale for 75% off. I bought some outdoor furniture at the close of the season at 75% off. I used a gift card I had won to buy some new dishes, a bread maker, and a crock pot. We bought a comforter on sale. I couldn’t believe it the house was mine. Now we are here in this place. I’m moving out of this house and back to the Cartersville home.

I’ve steeled myself to that fact. There have been some improvements but the mice and rats are still there. I leave behind my loft and my jetted tub. OK rich girl you say get over it. I’m far from rich.

When Darryl and I first married his company was doing OK but by the time his mom moved in I was the sole support of that house. I was supporting him, his mom and his dad and I resented it. I wondered what the hell I was thinking. I wanted to leave.

Now here I was again. I was supporting him and his Dad and I wanted him to get right to work looking for a job. Why can’t I just stop working? Why can we support us on my salary alone but never his? When we were at the Cartersville house before we couldn’t make it only on his salary but now we can make it just peachy with mine. Darryl finally backed me into saying something snide to him today about how I didn’t want to be my sister. “Cathy, “ he said, “You are looking all wrong at this. This is just temporary. In a few years we’ll be in a much better place. We made a mistake buying this house. We should have paid down the other house. I don’t want to rush out there and get a job paying lots less. This could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.”

Yeah. I kept the rest to myself. The disappointment I felt. Steve never got laid off and he would be retiring soon. So many angry words not spoken even though I know it’s not his fault. Still I’m angry that he’s not rushing to find another job. A job any job is what I think he needs to do. I think he should run out and get two jobs. That’s what I would have had to do if I didn’t have a husband. I feel used.

In the big scheme of things I know my disappointments are small. I've been poor. As a matter of fact I've been very poor but I think I finally felt that I had pulled myself successfully and firmly into middle class but once again I missed the brass ring

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