Curveball

Sometimes, life throws you a curveball, just to make sure you’re paying attention.

This particular curveball showed up about two weeks ago, in the form of a letter from the property management company that tends to the house we’ve been leasing for the past few years. Basically, the gist of the very formal letter was that not only would our lease not be renewed, but that we had 30 days to vacate the premises.

To be fair, this wasn’t a complete surprise. When we rented this particular house three years ago, the homeowner went into foreclosure about 20 minutes after we finished unloading the moving van. The house was sold on the courthouse steps, but Fannie Mae made the purchase, and did us the favor of honoring the two-year lease we had signed. By some stroke of luck, when the lease came up for renewal last spring, we got a reprieve and good old Fannie agreed to give us another year here.

We were pleased. We like this house. It’s open and airy and we have plenty of room. The neighborhood is mostly quiet, the yard is dog-friendly, and the kitchen is a cook’s dream. But when Fannie Mae is the landlord, nothing is forever. When we got a call from a fast-talking real estate agent early in February, we knew life was about to get complicated.

“I’m gonna be listing your house,” she said, voice dripping with country girl twang, which I think was mostly affected. “I handle all the local Fannie Mae listings, and we price ‘em to sell. It should go fast.”

Except there was a carrot she dangled in front of us. If the house didn’t sell in the first three weeks, the property would be made available to investors, who often bought houses sight unseen to use as rental properties. It was possible, she said, that our house could be snapped up in a block of homes that would be marketed as such, and we might just end up with a new landlord and a new lease. Aha! An easy solution might be at hand.

And then nothing happened. No buyer showed up. No investors, no potential homeowners. Nada. Just a letter telling us to get busy packing. We asked about leasing month-to-month, so we could at least wait until my semester ended to move. But no dice. Apparently, Fannie Mae would prefer that the house sit empty than remain occupied by a reliable tenant for a few more months. Fine. Whatever. Kiss my fanny, Fannie.

Have I mentioned yet how much I hate moving?

I do. I detest it. It’s a total upheaval of everything in a person’s life. It’s not like we won’t find a new place to live. We will. But packing up everything you own and moving it from one place to another just sucks. It’s time-consuming and stressful and expensive. There are deposits to pay, and movers to hire. Boxes and paper and bubble wrap and tape. It’s just a great big pain in the ass. I hate moving. I wish I didn’t have to do it again.

But you know the old adage – “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Or if you prefer a bit more reality in your adages, try this one – “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster.” Wishing won’t change the fact that we have to pack our crap and move in two weeks. So be it. As curveballs go, it’s not the worst one the universe could have thrown my way.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when you have to deal with a situation that you aren’t happy about, or a task that you don’t enjoy, it helps to look for something positive about it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I am not Pollyanna. I’m just pragmatic enough to know that sitting around and pouting about that which can’t be changed is a terrific waste of time. Better to forge ahead and get on with it.

The process of moving is so distasteful to me that, prior to packing, I look for reasons to unload anything that I can’t live without. It’s a good excuse to lighten up the burden of ‘stuff’.  So far I’ve loaded up four large boxes with items to drop off at Goodwill, several sacks of books and CDs to take to the resale bookstore, and an entire set of vintage crystal that I inherited from my maternal grandmother. The set will be passed down to my niece Camille, so it stays in the family, and I know that would make Mama happy. Camille was her first great-grandchild. It’s fitting, I think.

There are clothes in every closet that can be donated. There are worn sheets and towels that can go to the local animal shelter. There is junk in the garage that can be thrown out. The load we will carry forward can certainly be lightened. And that’s a bright spot in an otherwise unpleasant task.

And I admit, it hasn’t been all bad. It’s Spring Break week here, so I’ve had a week of paid vacation to start packing. Not that I wouldn’t rather be lounging on a beach somewhere, but hey, it is what it is. I’ve taken some time from packing to squeeze in a few long walks, and I’m catching up on my reading for school. The weather has been lovely. And, we may have found a suitable new house to lease.

Through all of it, I’ve had my iPod cranked. Did you know that Foo Fighters music is perfect accompaniment to packing boxes? As are Nirvana, Soundgarden, Elbow, Muse, Frank Turner, Gary Clark, Jr., and a host of other bands and singers? Music will get you through most any challenge life can throw at you. Believe it.

A month from now, things will look much different. We’ll be mostly unpacked in a new place, and my kitchen will be up and running again. I’ll be a few weeks closer to the end of spring semester. Life will settle down again. This is just a short, inconvenient detour. But the journey will continue.

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