When I put in a bid on the house I ended up buying I didn't know if the owner, a lovely woman (Hi, Paula!) who had recently remarried after 20 years of being single, would take me up on it but she did.
Let me rewind for a moment to remind folks of my life so far. Single mom at 15 (Hi, Mallory!), placed a daughter for adoption at age 16 (Hi, Maddie), third child at 19 (Hi, Mason!) and last baby at 23 (Hi, Morgan!). My living arrangements since leaving home at 18 have included a small apartment not quite the size of a 2-car garage, a Section 8 second floor apartment where someone stole my bicycle but left the baby seat, and a couple of hovels in between. Slowly over the years I have worked my way up in life (Hi, Bootstraps!) and I've had a growing list of things I've always wanted in a house.
A master bathroom with a jacuzzi tub.
A closet with space for my shoes. Or an apartment for my shoes.
A large, inviting kitchen where people will fit when a party spills over into it.
A formal dining room where I can entertain. A gal's gotta have someplace to practice her stand-up comedy routine.
With all of these wants came stumbling blocks and changed plans. Those plans altered the course I was hoping I'd be on "by this time". When I saw friends "moving on up" in life I wondered why I wasn't at the same place. If a couple I knew were taking a planned vacation I wondered why that wasn't in the cards for me. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I had some soul-sucking tragedy going on. What was I doing wrong? I went to college with a 3 year old, worked my patootie off to get a degree, plugged away at teaching, and I still wasn't getting anywhere. By 2007 I came to some realizations: my marriage was not going to work and I was the owner of a defeatist attitude. When I left, I took nothing with me but my clothes, a small 2-drawer dresser that belonged to Mallory, and an air mattress. Since that time I have gradually (and slowly, OMG, so slowly) added items to my home.
It was excruciating to buy things over again that I left behind. Dishes, picture frames, crock pots, cheese graters, and curtains. It was a godsend when my mother and I decided to move in together because she had all the furniture I was missing. We patched things together so I could make a home for my children as they shuffled between their parents. It worked for what I needed it to work for and then six months ago happened.
Six months have gone by and I haven't mentioned this to very many people. As excited as I was to buy my own house I was terrified that I would go into debt just to furnish it. Everyone needed beds and dressers and the mental list being planned in my head was enough to make me play some old tapes in my head.
You can't do this, Kelly. This is futile. All is doomed. DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
But then I started to get serious about buying a home and searched for months until I found the one I wanted. Sitting down with the owner and doing it all without a realtor is actually something I would recommend because it was a fantastic experience. Paula had just remarried after 20 years and asked me about myself. When I told her that I walked out of my home taking only my clothes she was astounded, but sympathetic. She herself had gone through a divorce 20 years earlier so she knew how messy it could get.
"Won't you need furniture? What do you have now?"
"Oh, I have a bed for myself and my boys and a dresser. I've mostly worked on kitchen stuff and lamps, but I'm going to have to finance enough furniture to fill a house like this."
Paula wanted to be more specific about my needs so I started to list them.
"Oh, my God, really? A kitchen table and chairs, couches, coffee tables... the list is too long really."
"Well, make a list of what you'd like to buy from me in the house and we'll talk about it later."
Later came when we finalized details about buying the house. She handed me a typed up list of the previous one I hand wrote with each item. Kitchen tables with chairs, three separate couch sets, coffee tables, armoires, book cases. Surprisingly, she was selling me nearly everything and I assumed we would go over the list, piece by piece, and negotiate a price for each. In my mind, I was getting ready to give her a price for each and every item. Like, maybe $250 for the kitchen set. And $800 for couch sets. Even that would be a deal because if I went out to buy them at a furniture store I would surely pay triple for all of it.
Paula ended up being an angel to me. I was in need of a home, yes, but I was making these enormous life decisions for my family that ultimately I would have to deal with so I came prepared. Well, as prepared as one can be in these situations.
She handed me the list and it totalled 25 items. Apparently, she had already thought it through enough to put a dollar amount on each one.
Final bill: $25.
That's one dollar per item. A $1 couch. A $1 armoire. Everything was a dollar. When I moved into this house it was fully furnished already. After the last couple of years this just blew me away. Honest to God, I wanted the whole world to just open up and swallow me for what I'd been dealing with in recent months. Yet, here was a happy ending like I couldn't ever anticipate. Hell yes, I was moving up.
I hummed the theme song to The Jeffersons the entire time I moved into my dream home.
Merry Christmas, Kelly. Love, Karma