Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Kids Keep the House

Corrine and I bought our house in the summer of 2006. She was working full time at a bookstore, but 7 months pregnant and therefore contemplating staying at home - whatever home turned out to be. I was working full time at a nonprofit as its web developer. Talk about job security. I was making enough money to support Corrine and I, who were just starting out as a couple.

We went house searching that spring and looked at half a dozen places in and around western Maine, which is where we are both from and where our families still live. The idea was that we needed a place big enough for our four children, and the one on the way. Corrine decided to stay at home as a child care provider, and to pick up her love of horses. We found a couple of beautiful places with attached barns, but needing renovation to fit our family.

They both fell through.

Finally, we found this colossal 1850s farmhouse in Buckfield with three stories, seven bedrooms, enormous dining room, living room, kitchen and two bathrooms. Not to mention a three-level attached barn, a sprawling deck and three acres.


We made an offer, the owners said yes, and after giving them a month to move (big house=lots of shit) we moved in.

Corrine quit her bookstore job, Gabrielle was born and we were ripping up carpets and painting like bastards.

And then I got laid off.

Out of the blue.

As in, no warning. Not even a hint.

There goes $40,000 a year.

Three years later, and months and months of agonizing and nightmares of the mortgage company showing up with an eviction notice - we learned this month that we qualified for a loan modification.

Not a hand out. Our loan was pushed back, of course, and the interest rate adjusted upward. We will pay more for this house, in the end, than what we originally agreed to.

But we keep the house.

There were many nights - countless, in fact - when I would be awoken from nightmares that included finding one of those FORECLOSURE SALES signs stuck to my lawn. Or locks on the doors.

Foreclosure has been a very real thing. In fact, a sheriff's deputy showed up with court documents to which I had to write a legal reply and take it over to the county courthouse explaining that we were in the midst of negotiating with the mortgage company.

There is nothing in this world I hate more than money. And the thing is, since high school, I have had full time jobs and made the most of my talents without a college degree, working my way up through the ranks of journalism and then taking a leap of faith and moving to Minnesota where I was making more money than I ever thought possible - for me anyway.

And you know something, I hated money then too.

I'm not good with it, I'm not satisfied that it's the be-all and end-all to happiness and I'm convinced that it truly is the root of all evil. And yet, in order to give my family what it needs, money is almost always at the center of the equation.

Everyone I know is driven by this and it's infuriatingly unfair.

But there it is.

The kids keep the house after all, despite every indication that we don't deserve to.

I sound happy about it don't I?

I am.

But there will always be a large part of me that feels there's gotta be a better way. A newer living equation that eliminates the need to prove oneself with a yearly salary.


  1. When you figure out how to survive without money, please clue me in. Actually, that could be your first NON-FICTION book. :)


  2. Yeah, let me know, too, when you figure that out. I'm VERY glad you were able to keep the house!

  3. I am glad you were able to save your house from foreclosure. Mr. K also hates money. Hates it. Hates dealing with us. But as the sole bread winner he knows he has to make it and as much of as he can to support the seven of us. But like you he wishes there was a better way to define ones worth and place in this world.(at least to the outsiders)

  4. I'm glad you get to keep your house. :)

  5. That must be a tremendous relief. Your house sounds like it was made just for your family. I too wish so many things didn't depend on sickens me daily. Congratulations on the peace of mind you are undoubtedly toting around.

  6. Hey Long Patience Family!

    So glad that you've settled the mortgage issue and can now feel some security/peace. Your family totally DESERVES that house (although fixed up and with, God willing, comfy heat!!)

    Money is really just tangible energy. It's your skill and your time. Make peace with it if you can.

    I think things are going to incredibly improve for you in the next few years as you go to college, and sell some work.

    One of the best books I ever read about money is Invest in Yourself. Also Your Money or Your Life is considered a classic examination of the role of work and money in a happy life. I benifitted immensely from reading The Simple Living Guide as well. I think you'd like them. And lots of principles about money handling also can apply to writing, relationships and other fundamental aspects of a happy, balanced life.