Friday, February 01, 2008

Letting One of the Cats (Kitten, Really) Out of The Bag

The Secret. It’s going to be anticlimactic and most of you will be disappointed because it isn’t really juicy or salacious or terribly deep and dark. But it is life-changing, at least for us it is. So without further ado, we are buying my mother’s house.

OK, now that my heart has started beating again, let me explain. Or rather, let my bullet list explain:

• First and foremost, we are not selling our apartment in the city and we will continue to live here. Leaving NYC anytime soon will cause a minor heart attack. Because we are insane, we will be paying two mortgages instead. Well, to be more accurate Nicole will be paying two mortgages, since I get paid in that cliché way of kisses and hugs, which the banks aren’t accepting as payment these days (thanks, subprime crisis).

• Yesterday was Bonus Day and Nicole got promoted to the very fancy title of Executive Director. This is a big deal in corporate world and in our own little world as well. And this is her second promotion in three years, which makes her a bit of a rock star and legend. She is such a hard worker and is so good at what she does. She has succeeded in a male-dominated industry (in fact, I think of her 30-plus employees, only ONE is a woman). I am so proud of her, and so proud of the example she is setting for our daughters, who have no idea that they are sitting and pooping on the lap of a Super Fancy Executrix, now Ultra Deluxe Edition. I hope they grow up to be just like her, but with a stronger interest in Lifetime movies.

• This house-buying event is a financial bail-out for my mother. She isn’t working (limited prospects for a woman in her 60s) and the only money she has is the equity in her house. She did the whole home equity line of credit thing and has spent most of that money, just on day-to-day expenses. We can’t sit back and watch a selling-short scenario (it hasn’t gotten close to that yet, but it could, in this economy) or a foreclosure scenario or watch her sell it for WAY less than it is worth just to get out of it. My mother has no savings, no 401(k) and no retirement money. Nothing at all. She is counting on Social Security to get her through to, oh, death. Without an intervention, she is certain to be yet another by product of this shitty economy. Thanks, President Bad Decisions. (perspective: some people have paid for these bad decisions with their lives.)

• So we will buy the house and take over the upkeep, etc. And my mother will continue to live there. Then one of two things happen: When kindergarten comes, we move out there, completely gut the place and renovate it (it is so dark, literally and figuratively) and get my mom a condo in the area. And the girls will attend grow up in the same town I did (and one town over from where Nicole grew up). Or. Perhaps if the real estate market corrects itself, we sell the house, my mom gets a small house or condo and we buy something else out there in that area. Well, and then there is the third possible option of moving somewhere else in the tri-state area, but we are wondering where the logic is in moving to a place where we have no friends or family. Bottom line, we will have to move at some point, and there is as good a place as any.

• Sour grapes: The color palette of that town is mainly shades of white, pink and light beige, if you know what I mean. Not a lot of ethnic diversity. I don’t want my girls growing up like that. Plus, we will most likely be the only two-mommy family, and, let’s face it, I’m not exactly a trailblazer or have dreams of being the Norma Rae of Somewhat Conservative Suburbia. And there is lots of old, old, old money (the median household income is 220K), which means lots of Rolls and Bentleys and Ferraris driving around to tell you that your car isn’t fancy enough. Also, did I mention it is my hometown? And the house I grew up in? The one in which I don’t have the best of memories? And Nicole’s commute to work in NYC will be just short of two hours each way? Because even though this town is a mere 30 miles away it takes forever to get there by train (driving on the LIE every day is not a sane option).

• Lemonade: I have some friends who live within a ten-minute range; friends that I have been friends with for more than two decades. My other super close friends still have parents who live in the area and so they make frequent trips back there. Nicole also has friends in the area. And Nicole’s sister and our niece and nephew are a town over. It is a beautiful town and it has a great school system. The girls would have a good childhood there, filled with nature and beaches and maybe nights of playing Capture the Flag in a backyard. (Is it me, or is that a game that really has no real rules? I feel like no two people play it the same way.)

Of course, all we need now is bank approval. There are lots of rules and laws and regulations, thanks to the new, tighter, post-sub prime economy. Gone are the go-go days of unlimited credit and sky-high mortgages and who could forget the leveraging issues of the 80s?

So that is the big secret. One of them, anyway. (Who's to say that one of my secrets isn't buried anonymously in the Secrets and lies post?) Like I said, it may not seem like a big deal for many people, but it is for us. There are so many layers here, which will all come out in the near future. I am grateful that we are able to swing this, financially, and that my girlfriend is ready and willing to do something like this for my mother. I can’t even begin to explain how it makes me feel. This is not “oh, I’ll pay that cable bill.” This is “I will save your mother’s financial life and her only asset and seek nothing to gain myself.” That pretty much sums up who my girlfriend is. That, and the words “Executrix” and “Bad Sci-Fi Movie Watcher.”

Above, Madeline covered in stars. She uses her fist to push them from her face into her mouth, and if there is anything cuter than that, I don’t know what it is. Her Aunt Jenni made her this delicious vegetable soup with pastina concoction and she loved it! Avery, on the other hand, is not as good with the chewing thing. I put four little stars on her tongue and the poor thing choked on them. She stares at me all wide-eyed with this look of “what now?” while I look right back with panic and start pounding on her back.

**By the way, it's up to 54 secrets in the comments below! Some of the secrets are making me very sad. The woman who was sexually abused by her father; the closest alcoholic; the woman who is sexually harassed by her friend's husband. These little bits of stories are heartbreaking. The woman who has fantasies of her partner's death. It takes courage to wrote about something like that, even anonymously.I'm sure you are not the only person who has wondered what a fresh start would be like. And to the woman, yes, that counts for certain. That blog is a great start....why didn't you continue writing?


Dee said...

Finally, the big reveal.

First, big congrats to Nicole. Way to go! I love stories of women succeeding in a male dominated industry. Yeah! And congrats to you for having such a wonderful partner.

And good for you for buying your mother's house. I think that is wonderful. My mother fell on hard times once and as much as I wanted to I couldn't help her.

And finally, that picture of Madeline is SO CUTE! No there isn't much cuter than that!

calliope said...

WOW! Two giant, GIANT things here. First of all- a Huge and massive and excited wooo hoooo to Nicole. That is just amazing and I am sure very, very deserved.

2nd- the buying of your childhood home. I almost can't get my head around how intense this is. How, fuck, what is the word Is that what I mean? It's pretty amazing that you guys can do this and that are.


nailgirl said...

How exciting! Congrats, I am so envious.

Anonymous said...

wow! congratulations to Nicole. And kudos to both of you -- without your support, Nicole would not have considered the house buying deal. Don't downplay your part in the decision - it is not always easy to be the "good daughter". Life may bring different options and opportunities for all of you before the girls are ready for school, and maybe one or two other same sex couples to the school district!

and I am WAY jealous of the books....

Jenni said...

Great news on both fronts - and I'm LOVING the secrets!

K J and the kids said...

I'm excited for you !
I wish it could be a summer/weekend home :)

Shelli said...

I pay my mom's rent. I hear ya. that's SO awesome. Really.

Anonymous said...

For one week, could you reveal to us what you eat the entire day including beverages? Im curious to see if there is a link between the foods that you eat and your insomnia. You would have to be 100%honest with your food intake.

Anonymous said...

If you and your family lived in a 'new' renovated house, wouldn't the memories you make be better than the old ones?

You are doing a good thing. :)

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KRISTA said...

First time poster--but long time lurker. Love your writing and have been checking daily for the secret to unfold! Congrats big time to Nicole! Congrats on making such a huge decision too! I'll check back for more kittens to be revealed.
I am mom to 7 month old twins--so I love to hear about your twin adventures. Keep writing!