Sunday, July 3, 2016

May 11, 2016

So, here we are at our condominium in suburbia gone mad Clifton Park, and, should you not be aware of this town’s existence or just think its a name on a Northway (I-87) sign before you arrive at the more “fun” exits to Saratoga and Lake George, well, let the town website fill you in…

“Clifton Park NY is located in Saratoga County, about a dozen miles north of the Capital City of Albany and just south of Saratoga Springs, NY. Communities in Clifton Park include Ballston Lake, Elnora, Flagler Corners, and Grooms Corners,RexfordRound Lake, Ushers and Vischer Ferry, lending a small-town charm to its appeal as a growing locale! “

Now how can you not like a place that has a Flagler Corners?

My wife Jackie and her family had lived in Clifton Park since the early 1960s in a two story house off what became Exit Eight of the Northway.  The house is still there, but only Jackie and her sister are left to tell the stories.  Well, me too.

We spent 27 years at our home in Malta, the townhouse we thought of as our “starter” home.  Apparently the “starter” part was misconstrued by us. Until MS reared its extremely ugly head about 5 years ago.  And the ugly head said (please use a Schwarzeneggar voice here) “Move from here, if you want to live!”

So we did.

The story begins on a cold December afternoon.  Jackie was dashing out to retrieve the Times Union and mail from our roadside mailbox and noticed another piece of paper shoved to the side of the mailbox, doing its best to not be buffeted out of a safe hole by the wind that was chafing Jackie’s face as she stood there trying to grasp the sheet. After all, it might be a coupon! She’s good like that.

When we looked at the sheet, it just had a few words on it.

“Hi, I just sold the house down the street from you.  Please call me at XXX-XXXX if I can help you.”

It was signed “Gabrielle”.

Now in the 26 years we’d been living here, as I am sure many other suburban residents have found these advertisements in their mail, would toss them (or recycle) and think nothing more of it. That’s what we normally did.  But this one we kept, and now and then would reread it.  

I’m not sure what moment it was, but sometime in December 2015, one of us said (it was Jackie, of course) “It wouldn’t hurt to call and see, would it?” 

Me: “Grumble. Grumble, lawn mower, shoveling, buy more mulch, will hurt, mulch, grumble..”

Jackie: “I’ll send her an e-mail.  See what she has to say.”

She had  a lot to say. She toured the house, and gave us an idea of what 125 was worth.  Double what we paid for the house in the late 1980s.  That, and the fact that my body was spasming while we, actually just me, tried to understand all the legalities Gabrielle was taking us through.  The Basics: When you get a call from us that someone's coming to visit - Get Out! We were so grateful that Panera at Exit 12 opened, it became our second home.  None of us though we'd get much interest in January. Guess what? The showings began, and so did the offers:

1. He was a man just out of the service (vets are instant winners with us) and was getting a VA mortgage, had a good job, and everything looked good.  He came on his own one afternoon and I gave him the tour and answered non money questions, just more important ones like "How does this work?" He was happy, we were happy. Everyone was happy.  The guy lost his job the next day.  Nobody happy.

2. Next was a woman who was ready to offer full price and was ready to go.  Her father said no. End of that.

Nothing happened for a while, and we were getting the usual consolation s of homeowners everywhere.  "Don't worry.  My neighbor ***** had his house on sale since World War II.  Somebody bought it last year.  They gotta a real fixer upper.  Gotta get the squatters out, meth labs, you know, I think the second floor guest room has disappeared.  Ya open the door and there's nuthin' there. Swear ta God. Black as night, no stars.  If they can sell that place, you, my friend, got no worries. Any more beer?"

So we had the lull, that time where you don't what to do with house/yard because how long will you be there?  So you're like the shivering plants outside, knowing that the time for warmth will come, in the meantime just hunker down, and we'll get through.

We put a new granite top on our kitchen cabinets late in 2015, in time for the holidays, and we are still paying for it toda, thanks to Home Depot accounts.  But in case we would be there come Spring 2016 (we were) it would be nice. So began The Lull.  

We did others things, always looking at the phone coming in the house to  see if  there was a message, and began to rethink the whole thing

And night the message light was blinking.  We both dashed to the phone.

Gabrielle had called. We had a buyer! Wow. We were glad to be selling our house to a vet and his family.  And we were glad that all these boxes already filled with books would end up someplace else. All we needed to do is get more boxes, and then more boxes, and maybe a few more.  Eventually we made paths through the piles of immovable heavy cardboard that maybe a Monster Truck could move, and we would now and then even meet up near the winter clothes box for a coffee, and figure out what we would do on the "Closing Day".  No worries. It's down the line.

And then it was here.