Thirteen months ago, I (for unexciting reasons I won't get into here) found myself needing to find a house relatively quickly. A friend recommended a realtor, I told him what I was looking for, and asked to see whatever was available in my (admittedly low) price range. (As a first-timer, I wanted a good sense of what that would buy me in my area, so I would know a good house when I saw it) Anyway, as it turned out, the search wouldn't take long - there were only about three. And this is not because I was being picky. Unless you consider 'unwilling to spend more than the bank would allow' or 'unwilling to buy an uninhabitable house' being picky. Anyway, lucky for me, this house was number three (of three!), and I knew right away that it was 'The One'. What was REALLY lucky for me was that I didn't feel like I was forced to 'settle' for this house. I love it. I loved it right from the start.
What followed was a crazy hectic two weeks - yep, closing day was a mere two weeks after the day I first laid eyes on my house, and only twelve days after my offer was officially accepted (these things are possible if (a) you are certifiably insane, and (b) the house is vacant).
A year ago today, I woke up super-early in the morning, super-duper excited. It was CLOSING DAY. I couldn't get that song 'Closing Time' out of my head. Not that the rest of the lyrics are relevant, but who cares?! I was excited.
All through the previous, hectic days, through all the lawyer and bank appointments, the house inspection, etc., I kept waiting for it all to feel 'real'. Everything was happening so fast, reality hadn't caught up with me yet. But I figured that once I held that key in my hand, that would be the moment.
I went to the house that morning for the final walkthrough with my realtor. Luckily, he'd arrived first, because what greeted us was a bit of a shocker (major understatement). The night before, hoodlums had thrown rocks through five of the house's (brand new) windows, kicked in the basement door, and left the other doors swinging in the wind.
We surveyed the damage, and before getting on the phone to start handling things, my realtor handed me the key, saying "here, I guess this is yours". So much for my 'moment'.
Now, in hindsight, it could've been worse, right? They couldn've set fire to the place, or kicked holes in the walls or something. Or hey, they could've done it the next day, after I took possession, and my insurance would've been responsible for the damage. But nevertheless, it was still pretty darn traumatic.
The rest of the day was an emotional rollercoaster, but I was determined that this house was mine, and I wasn't letting some stupid hoodlums ruin MY day. This was my eventual decision, anyway, after multiple phone conversations, freak outs, and a lot of tears! (I live alone here, people, and the house is well back from the street. I think my fear was justified!)
The previous owner called some idiots to come clean up all the glass, board up the windows and secure the doors (I say idiots because they drove massive screws through the solid wood door with the ONLY working lock - you know, the one my key was for? - and left one window uncovered with rain blowing in, and the basement door wide open - yeah, that'd be the one the massive screws should've been used for. Come on morons, the house is pretty small. How'd you manage to screw that up???)
Since my moving 'crew' (thanks, guys!) was scheduled for the next day, that night I just moved a few things in with my dad's help. Included in that first load was a bed, because there was no way I was leaving my house a vacant target for the hoodlums that night. It was mine, dammit!
I spent the first night on a mattress on the floor (oops, forgot the bedrails in all the 'excitement'!), with a hammer by my pillow (hey, it was all I had!), and every light in the place blazing. A memorable day right to the end, though not in the way I'd hoped.
no, this is not a crack house
Anyway, so I moved in, life started to fall into a routine, etc. etc. Until, a week later, the hoodlums came back while I was at work and smashed another window and kicked in the basement door, this time tearing it completely off its hinges. Yeah, that day kind of freaked me out, too. Welcome to the neighbourhood! (I should probably clarify at this point that despite how this sounds, I DO NOT live in the ghetto. This is an otherwise pretty quiet suburban street. Any neighbours I've talked to haven't heard of anything else like this happening around here.)
So yeah, this time it was on me to replace the window and door. Again, I'm grateful that it wasn't worse. The laptop I'm typing on right now? Was totally sitting out on the dining room table when they broke in the second time. But nothing was taken, and I don't even think they came upstairs. Still freaked me out, though!
I spent my entire first month of home-ownership living in a dark, boarded up house, with the wind whistling through the broken windows. As soon as the final window was replaced, I had the alarm system installed (the first of many unplanned-for expenses, I've learned). I now sleep much better, and the hammer is back in the tool box where it belongs!
one of many boxes of glass
It was more than six months before I felt like I could safely walk around inside without shoes on because of all the glass (apologies again to the guests I 'yelled' at to keep their shoes on!). I still occasionally find the odd shard. And I'm not sure I'll ever want to walk in the yard barefoot, because it's a lot harder to spot it out there!
The hoodlums are still around, but haven't caused any more trouble that I know of. They still occasionally run through my yard (and yes, at least one time the police were in pursuit...), but I make sure to let them know I'm here, and that I'm watching. Turns out, we homeowners are a rather proprietary bunch. I care, because it's mine.
So tonight, I'm toasting my first house-iversary with an adult beverage, and thinking that, all in all, it's been a pretty good year. And, while I type this, as their own special contribution to the celebration, the hoodlums are setting off fireworks in the schoolyard across the street.
How sweet of them to remember.