11: Bloom Where You Are Planted

11: Bloom Where You Are Planted

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.

~Art Linkletter

I was smitten from the moment I laid eyes on that adorable condo, with its sunken living room and the gorgeous French doors that opened onto the flagstone patio. I convinced my husband Joe that “happily ever after” awaited us on the other side of that threshold. The threshold with the elegant front door flanked by full-length beveled glass windows. The one located at 6823 Crooked Lane.

Right away we put our house up for sale and in less than a week someone made us an offer. I took it as a sign from Heaven and mentally started feathering our Crooked Lane nest. The same day we accepted the buyer’s offer we put a deposit down on our dream house. Let the packing begin!

As I filled each box I pictured myself cooking sumptuous suppers in that beautiful wide-open kitchen, or soaking in the luxury of the Jacuzzi after a long day at work. Yep, living was going to start just as soon as we were settled into our new home, and I could hardly wait. Joe, on the other hand, had his own fantasy list of activities (or lack of them) that he mused over. The thought of being relieved of his responsibility to mow the grass and shovel snow made him practically giddy.

As we packed, the usual paperwork and appointments ran their course. We were approved for our new mortgage without a hitch and our house on Spring Mill Avenue passed all routine inspections. Not a snag in sight. Settlement day approached and with it our excitement about moving to Utopia grew steadily. We counted down the days and never counted on trouble, but trouble was waiting right around the corner.

I stared across the table at the empty chair just as the grandfather clock in the corner of the real estate office struck three o’clock. The buyer of our home was now officially thirty minutes late. This seemed unusual since he was a real estate agent himself.

Our own real estate agent frantically called the buyer’s office and cell phone. When we had waited a full hour my husband stood up and said, “We’ve had enough. We’re leaving, and unless you can prove that the buyer has come to some physical harm that prevented him from contacting this office, the sale is off.” Then we walked out.

We drove home in shock. Well, I was in shock. Joe barreled past shock and didn’t put the brakes on until he got to rage. The whole time we ate dinner I’m certain there was smoke coming out of his ears. Neither of us could accept that the sale of our house progressed to the point of settlement without our own real estate office following up on the legitimacy of the buyer. We never asked questions because, well, because we had no experience selling a home and when our agent said everything was fine, we believed that everything was, in fact, fine. Silly us.

At about seven o’clock in the evening our real estate agent called to say that he finally spoke with the buyer, who confessed he had too many irons in the fire at the moment and was having a little difficulty securing a mortgage. Of course our agent George assured us that if we would just grant the buyer an extension of a few weeks all would work out.

Joe put the phone on mute and said, “What do you think, Annie?”

There I stood among stacks of packed boxes, having hitched my wagon to the house on Crooked Lane with “Let’s give him another chance” right on the tip of my tongue. The look on my financially prudent husband’s face spoke volumes. I drew in a deep breath, and then said, “No way, Joe. He had his chance and I don’t think we should bank any longer on his empty promises. There’s something crooked going on here and I don’t trust this guy.”

Joe gave a sigh of relief, delivered the news to George, and then hung up the phone.

“It’s official, Annie. The sale of this house is off.”

“What do we do now?” I asked, hoping Joe had an ace up his sleeve, but in my heart I knew better.

“This,” he said, as he dialed the number for the real estate agent of our condo on Crooked Lane.

I had to leave the room. Just thinking about having to swing two mortgage payments until our house sold was making me sweat in places where I didn’t even know I had glands. I knew for sure Joe would never agree to a swing loan or any other high interest quick fix, and I shared the same mindset. At this point the odds were no longer in our favor. Even without being in the room, I knew Joe was going to explain our situation and ask if we could be released from the agreement to purchase the condo on Crooked Lane.

When Joe hung up the phone he came into the living room and flopped down on the couch next to me.

“What a mess, Annie. What a big, fat, exhausting mess.”

The owner of Crooked Lane agreed to let us out of the contract as long as our real estate agent’s office sent a letter explaining what had happened. They were disgruntled but cooperative. Though our agent would much rather have talked us into giving the buyer another chance, he agreed to send the letter all the same.

When the dust settled, Joe and I decided to pretend that our little house on Spring Mill Avenue was Crooked Lane. And that’s just what we did — mortgage-wise, that is. The mortgage payment on the new house figured to be almost twice what we were paying on Spring Mill Avenue. So every month we wrote a check that was almost twice the amount of our scheduled payment.

We’ve made some cosmetic changes over the years, like tearing down the old wood paneling and installing hardwood floors, but we certainly have no Jacuzzi. And all these years later my husband still grumbles when the grass needs cutting. The amazing news is that last December we made our final mortgage payment on this little house of ours, fifteen years ahead of schedule. That’s quite a positive outcome in a world where top-heavy mortgages abound. We don’t have a mortgage. We have a deed and equity. We have pride and peace of mind, in a cozy and comfortable home that we have grown to love. But mostly we have firsthand knowledge that sometimes you just have to look on the bright side and bloom where you are planted.

~Annmarie B. Tait

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