Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Offer on the Homestead

"My great-grandfather died in this room. And many of my aunts and uncles were born in here." I say this casually to the realtor who has no deep sense of the homestead like I do.

Earlier, I walked easily up the stairs from the driveway as hundreds of thousands of my relatives footsteps traveled before me. The rain fell gently on the worn roof and cascaded down off the uneven eaves.

The Homestead In Late Winter

Last weekend, my uncle and I casually spoke about the house and property where he was born. I made a passing comment that tripped a domino in his mind. We talked and made a verbal, family-based agreement to make an offer on the homestead.

One of the local papers indicated an auction today and last night, my uncle's voice was on my answering machine. 'Give me a call, Tim. There has been a big change.'

The change is that there is no auction and the house is on the market for a fixed price that is in my price range.

So I didn't sleep and I felt like I barely worked this morning before I left to meet the realtor. I arrived at home and trudged wearing rain gear from my property to the homestead.

History and comfort and memory flooded back. Although the building is simply wood, nails, bricks, and windows; the structure has stories and secrets within its walls. And the well-worn steps made me recall hours and days spent with various family members.

My approach is that if I am to buy the homestead, it will be easy. So I guide the realtor around the house, talking incessantly. We are upstairs and I hear my uncle enter. The realtor doesn't.

Edwin joins us upstairs and I ask him if some hidden space used to be open. We walk into one of five bedrooms and I ask Edwin, 'Was this your room?'

'Oh yeah. This one and that one,' as he points to the rear of the building, 'But that one in the front was always my sisters. We never got to use that room.'

We walk through the building and my uncle tells more stories. We go downstairs to discuss the finer points of the heating system, water, electricity and so on.

Edwin leaves.

The realtor shares the simple, practical sense that I have for the value of the house. He gives me insight into the process and I absorb what he says. He suggests a price and I verbalize my intent back to him.

I make the offer and now I wait.

My mind is full of an extensive laundry list of dominoes that must fall in a syncopated sequence.

At the realtor's car before he leaves, I point up to my current house and say, 'I imagine this field open all the way to my house up there.' I see delight in the realtor's eyes as though he understands the connection.

He leaves.

My gaze remains on the building and the property as I am full of technical and business thoughts and comfortable emotion.

I return to my house.

I wait.

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