Friday, October 21, 2011

The Gambler

So I toured the yellow bungalow and fell instantly in love. I tried to seem unimpressed in front of my realtor because as you probably know, buying real estate is like going to Vegas (although I’ve never been to Vegas, but everyone else has). As soon as the wavy glassed, original Craftsman solid front door opened, the game began.
It’s unfortunate that my realtor was also the listing agent. I felt he had a conflict of interest that couldn't be helped so I had to play my cards all by myself and try to be good at it. My children can tell you that I always lose on our family poker nights because I’m no good at bluffing. When I get aces I get a big grin across my face and go all in. They roll their eyes and fold immediately. I don’t get the chips I so richly deserve but the satisfaction of gloating is just good enough.
The price was set high but I did my homework. I poured over the comps again and again. Then made my offer. It was significantly lower than the asking price. She countered and yesterday morning I recountered. I’ve never seen not spoken with her. It was all done through our impartial (I can only pray) negotiator/realtor who was, to belabor this metaphor, the dealer.
Then I got the text. “Congratulations…..You are a new home owner.” You’d think I would have jumped for joy. But instead I got a sick feeling in my stomach. “Lord, are you sure this is where I should be?”
Of course He’s sure. It’s me with the doubts. It’s not even doubts. I’ve had this feeling before (so have you) whenever I’m about to do something brave, risky and ………expensive. The feeling has almost passed and I’m getting excited. The contract is signed, contingent on the inspection, the mortgage and all that.
I think I played my cards well and I’m leaving the table with a happy sigh. Glad that's over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feeling Comfortable

My realtor called. He had pointed out a really cute yellow bungalow when I was last in St. Pete and said there were rumors the owner was moving to Boston. It’s in the neighborhood where I want to live (I think). Yesterday he got permission to show it, though I don’t think it’s officially on the market yet.
So tomorrow I’m driving down to take a look. Makes me nervous to think of moving. I’ve gotten comfortable here in my Dade City country house, worked out a rhythm with my tenant, volunteering in my old school, going to Bible study at church, jamming on Thursday nights……yeah, I’m comfortable. But there’s something about this comfortable feeling that makes me uncomfortable. Do you know what I mean?
I don’t feel called to comfort, at least not right now. In Alaska there was a certain exhilaration in having to trust God from day to day. It did my soul good to NOT have my ducks in a row, to NOT see around every corner, to NOT sleep well without praying on the floor at bedtime. Either I’ve become a real sicko or I’m on to something here. I’m thinking about Hudson Taylor, the 19th Century missionary who evangelized China. He used to turn down offers of help because he loved seeing God work without any help (or something like that).
I’m so far from that kind of faith. And yet all this uncertainty, all this aloneness is catapulting me forward into the exciting unknown (Oh Lord, I just had a vision of me at the battle for Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings, being catapulted with all the disembodied heads over the wall. Or was that the battle for Helms Deep?)
Anyway, the real question here is not where to live, but who am I becoming? Am I uptown espresso girl, inner city mission-martyr girl, country nature-communer girl, solitary blog-into-book writer girl, mother-daughter-sister family-committed girl, sophisticated socialite (okay that one was a joke), but the list goes on and on. The truth is…….I’m all of these, just as you are multi-faceted also and have to decide which facets to polish up and which ones can gather dust for a while.
It’s not about juggling, which can be both tiresome and overwhelming. It’s more like quietly fitting the squiggly pieces into the jigsaw puzzle which, when completed, will make me feel not only satisfied and whole, but also………..comfortable (I think).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Family Reunion

For 101 years the descendants of the family in the picture have been meeting on the last Sunday of September, in the city they helped found, for the Coleman reunion. The second man from the right is my granddaddy (was he standing in a hole?) We all called him Dad.

My earliest memories of the reunion were at the Greenway Community Center in Roswell, Georgia. We’d run home after church to change clothes then my mother would gather up the beans or corn that had been simmering all morning and off we’d go. I remember being shy during many of those years (Yes, me….shy.) and dreading going. There was all the typical pinching of cheeks and “my, you’ve grown” activity going on. I hated that. But I’d always hook up with a distant cousin and find fun and games while the adults stood around and smoked and laughed and caught up. The food was just unbelievable. Umpteen generations of Southern cooking. Paula Deen would not even rate a place at the children’s table.

Though I’ve missed more reunions than I’ve attended in the last 30 years, I’ve watched as the older generations disappeared and my old playmates took over as the organizers. My mother is one of a handful of 80-plus participants who are still alive and kickin’. But she didn’t feel like going this year and will soon relinquish her place as a reunion matriarch. On the other hand, her great-granddaughter was born five weeks ago and the baby’s grandmother, my sister-in-law, is already talking about showing little June off at next year’s gathering.

I spent the week in Georgia wondering what it would be like to move back to this place of my roots, where my ancestors (and my husband) are buried. Not likely. The sentimental appeal does not overpower the oppressive noise, traffic and congestion of the big city. What happened to the little town I grew up in? Scarlett O’Hara would say it’s gone with the wind. And it really doesn’t matter whether or not I give a damn. I no longer belong here.

So I’m looking for a quaint little 20’s-30’s bungalow somewhere close to downtown St. Pete, near a Starbucks; the decadent pleasures of the city without risking life or limb for a tall skinny latte. Yeah, that sounds good to me.