Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Celebrating a Door: Meditation on Home-Closing

We are trying to close on a house. Trying, I tell you. This is our first home as a family, and it is no small thing. The dwelling proper; the process of purchasing it; the path leading up to and through this very moment: none of it is without beauty, intensity, frustration and grace.

Our offer on the home was formally accepted on Ash Wednesday. We planned to close Easter Monday; the 40 days in between were not lost on me as a sort of prayerful opportunity to journey through Lent to this new dwelling, new way of life, so-to-speak, right? Acknowledging this alignment of purchasing the home with a Catholic, Christian journey toward Easter was silly initially; but at this juncture, let me tell you: it is crucial that I have this season to draw on, as I moment-to-moment, work to make my way through to the end and trust that a new life is here!

We were slated to close Monday. Easter Monday, as I said. The hour passed, however, when we were to be at the Title company. Underwriting still had our file late that afternoon, and we were not cleared to even close! (Confession: in some dark, scary part of our minds, a lingering thought existed that our financing would fall through, that we wouldn't actually be able to purchase this house. Why book a moving truck? Why pack a box? It was dark, I tell you.) But the hour passed, and around 5pm on Monday, we were given a list of a few more "To-Do's" so that we could close on Wednesday. Hooray!

It's Wednesday evening friends, as I write this, and let me tell you: we still do not have the keys to our house! But let me relay what has happened in the meantime.

Francois and I received a tiny gift in the wake of the delay, a gift that I'm happy to share with each of you.

In lieu of today's planned 2pm closing meeting, I went to the property with our realtor, Arlo, to check on the updated repair items. (We had requested a few things be addressed in our purchase agreement and wanted to follow up on them.) There, at the house, we had a surprise, when we met the carpenter responsible for doing 90% of the renovation work on the property. Jack is his name. Lovely fellow. Jack had stories about the house, its original layout and some of the changes they made to improve the place. ("Did you know the main floor had a full bathroom, but the door was right off the kitchen?" and "The back entryway used to be so narrow, you had to pass through sideways." and "They converted it from radiator to forced air heat and put in these vents." and "Let me show you how to get furniture up the third floor staircase." These were stories and information we wouldn't necessarily have ever been privy to without this chance meeting, eh?)

One of the frustrations around the renovation work that was completed was the realization that the original door to the basement was thrown away. We were informed, during the inspection phase of this process, that this door was long gone. As the new owners, with a small crawling child, we were put on a path to finding a new "salvaged door" or having one made especially to fit this unique space. (Menards estimated this cost initially between $300 and $400 - without the mill work completed.) We were set to ordering a custom made one - again for our daughter's safety, when I met Jack, today.

I asked him, "Hey, by any chance, do you know what happened to this door off the kitchen?"

He hemmed and hawed a bit, and then said, "Well, I think it might be in a dumpster on Burlington Street."

Of course!

Forty five minutes later, belly deep in renovation debris, (house siding, pink carpeting, kitchen cupboards, mountain dew cans, a fire place rack) someplace over in East St. Paul, Jack put his hands on the missing door! We wiped it down, put it in my car, and returned it to the porch of the property.

Had the house closed on time, would I ever have met this person? Would I have learned of the previous layouts? Would I have discovered the plumbing changes and trim "tricks" that this carpenter employed? Gleaned his sense of craftsmanship and pride in his work? No.

It was a gift! A "door" on many levels, don't you think?

For the record: I think this process of closing on a home is stressful for every single person involved. Everyone. From the loan officers to title people, agents, the underwriters, to say nothing of the seller and buyers, friends, family, people standing by to help. But in the midst of it all -- circumstances that feel jarring, violent at times with the anger, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty -- there's something awesome at work...

Do you agree?

Stay tuned for scenes from the next instillation of this Easter saga!

Contemplatively yours,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde


Anonymous said...

I love this post! Good storytelling! The serendipity! You got the door, met the craftsman, got the history. You will be thoughtful caretakers. I saw "Working" by Studs Terkel on stage last night (in Chicago) and a memorable line was that everyone needs something to point (as their work).

Anonymous said...

Oops that was me, Judy!