Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lessons learned

Essentially, the whole moving crisis is over now, though I'd hardly say I am all settled and used to everything. I guess I'm lucky in a way my old neighborhood isn't right off the main road so I don't have to drive past the house and see it ever again if I don't want to. At this point I have no intention of doing so as it would hurt to much to see my house and my yard changed and in someone else's possession. I was reminded, though, on Friday when Mom and I were going to my piano lessons about what's going on there as she had to stop over there earlier in the day to look for some old books she left there. Apparently, our "poor" ex-neighbors who basically made it sound like they had to scrape together every last cent to buy our house for next-to-nothing, have enough money to replace such necessities as the back door, do work on the floors, and replace at least some appliances (all of our appliances were working...older yes, but hardly on their last leg). Call me stupid, but usually when you have just enough money you focus on absolute necessities like the roof getting fixed and such and maybe fixing the leaking basement?? She said they were "upset" that when I took the front porch flood light off I "left" the two wires touching and "could've burned the house down." Perhaps, but most likely it would've shorted out and tripped the circuit box IF they had turned on the switch, though turning it on would have been for no reason since there was no light in the other socket attached to that switch. They're just mad I took the light (and the garage light too). Honestly, at this point, if that house burns down or a tornado passes through it I wouldn't shed a tear because I totally feel like they'd deserve it. Call it revenge, call it anger, but it's how I feel. It would make me feel like "I'm glad we got out of there when we did." I didn't have any sympathy for their sob story to "save" the house from possibly being turned into a college rental (could've happened, but unlikely) and getting it for her poor son who lost his job. Cry me a river. And of course, the people who LIVED there (us) and had a high level of sentimental and practical attachment to the house had zero opportunity to buy it. We were non-important, powerless, virtually invisible spectators in the whole thing even though it affected us the most. No one cared what we thought or how this affected us in any way.

There are definitely some hard lessons I learned from this that I hope can benefit others who go through something similar or for those of you who know someone who goes through something similar. First, while our house was on the path to foreclosure, the bank (GMAC) put it on the market rather than letting it actually be foreclosed on. They started it out at its original appraised value and lowered it a few times after no one took it. Eventually it was sold for about $60,000, about half of it's appraisal value (which I think was too high anyway). So even if this foreclosure moratorium bill passes, people will still lose their homes if the bank simply sells the house since it won't be considered a foreclosure. Even selling our house for half of it's alleged worth got them more money than letting it be foreclosed and auctioned off. In the case where it's being marketed to be sold, make sure before it's listed that you specifically lay out what is yours-- what you intend on taking with you-- and what is part of the house. Once it's written in as part of the house, it's legally supposed to stay if it's sold. Such was the case with our relatively new garage door opener. I had hoped to sell it to make some money and spent a few hours taking it off the last day we were there. After all my work I come to find a few days later it was "part of the contract" and had to be returned, something I was pretty irritated about (I found out in the middle of Heather's graduation). They also tried to say the motion-sensor lights I had removed were "part of the contract" but I informed them that those were bought and installed by me and as such were not something the bank could write into a contract. Me putting them on the house did not make them property of the bank. I have plans to install them here anyway. So anyway, make sure you protect your property and know the difference between YOUR actual property and what the bank can claim as part of the house. The bank owns the house, but not necessarily everything attached to or in it.

The other thing I really learned about was how to handle help. We had to do the moving mostly ourselves; obviously we can't afford to save our house so we certainly couldn't afford to hire someone to move us or even rent a moving truck. Without the help of our friends and family I don't know what we would've done. First, I was a bit taken aback by the almost complete absence of my extended family; not just physical help but even seeing how we were doing. We all got together on Mother's Day (two days before we left the house for good) and only one of them asked if we were done moving (which we weren't). And no, I'm not talking about my extended family that lives in other states: I'm talking about the extended family that lives here in Kent and in the general area. It was like they didn't even know it was going on. I've noticed my Ridinger side tends to treat certain crises like they aren't happening; that's how they deal with them. That leads to the next lesson learned: offering help. The vast majority of the help we received was from members of our local ward (congregation) and even my friend Erica drove here all the way from Salem to lend her services and her truck. While this was all unfolding we definietly knew we needed help, but losing a home is such a traumatic and emotional experience, the last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience someone by asking them to come over for hours. On top of that, the stress with packing and sorting is so much (along with normal life still going on) you really don't want to take time to call a bunch of people nor do you even think about it. There's too much else to worry about. Sure we had a lot of people say "call if you need us" which I greatly appreciated, but in the end it wasn't really much help at all. I found the best way was to call us and see how we were doing and find out when we were planning on packing the car and possibly what else we needed. In other words, specifics rather than a general "call us if you need help" since we obviously DID need help. That's not to say I didn't appreciate the offers and recognize that people were aware and willing, but in the end it put another burden on us to go track them down and hope we didn't need help when it was inconvenient for them. The best service we got was having extra hands to load the cars and when people volunteered their truck, van, and/or trailer. It made such a difference in helping it go faster and allowing us to move larger things that we just couldn't fit in our car. But even more so, it was mentally uplifting to realize we weren't alone. So, call ahead, get specifics, and let them know when you can be there rather than a non-commital, general "call us if you need us." And for those of you who offered general help, please don't take offense or think we didn't appreciate the offers. But in retrospect and going through this from my end, I don't think we ever called anyone that offered general help because we just didn't have the time or energy (physical and mental!) to call. It was just one more thing to do on a loooooong list. I only see it this way after going through it.

So yeah, I definitely still harbor a lot of anger and frustration over the whole experiece; losing the house, how we were treated, the near lack of acknowledgement by my extended family this was even happening, and now the aftermath. It'll be awhile before I can truly say I've "moved on" and "gotten over it" and I'm definitely learning more about myself and the whole concept of forgiveness. And heaven help my ex-neighbors if I ever see them again. They will get an earful. At the same time, I am truly grateful for all the help we did receive from friends and family, particularly my Derby grandparents and the Robisons. Without the help there is NO way we would've been able to finish on time if at all and likely wouldn't have gotten any symphathy from our ex-neighbors and certainly none from GMAC (they originally wanted us out by like April 30 or some crazy day like that).

1 comment:

Becky said...

I'm sorry things were so hard. I have also spent time thinking about the house and what it means to "come home" now. I don't think I could bring myself to even drive down Powdermill. I have had several dreams also about the house. In one it was empty, in the next one it had a family in it and they had changed everything. They still had some of our things and when I asked for them they tried to sell them to me. It was nuts. I guess in the end we have to agree that we still have our family, and I'd take all of you over the house any day. I love you!