When the housing bubble bursts close to home
Not ignoring it in a "oh, I'll just pretend unemployment isn't approaching 10 percent in my state and Dad's just on a really long solo vacation instead of working thousands of miles away" way.
But ignoring it in "trying to put it out of my mind on a daily basis" so I don't walk around all morose and inflict it on the guys. They're going to have enough to deal with in cleaning up the big people's messes when they're adults without having it ruin their innocent years.
Once in a while, that system fails me. Like yesterday morning, when a knock at the door woke me up. Literally - I'd burned too much midnight oil and Boots and I had fallen asleep on the couch.
It was a locksmith, asking if anyone still was living in a neighborhood home. The mortgage company had sent him to lock out the owner, he said. Former owner now, I suppose.
It was the second foreclosure in a week on our street of only a dozen homes or so.
The first was no surprise. The family had moved in in spring 2005, as housing prices and liar loans neared their peak. It was a modest home - 1,400 square feet - but went for an immodest price at the time, in excess of $300,000.
A young family lived there, with kids close to the guys' age and a stay-at-home mom who always decorated for the holidays. She also had a habit of calling the police every time another neighbor's camper was parked on the street for one minute longer than the 72-hour limit. She liked to complain to animal control about barking dogs, too.
But obnoxious though she was, no one would wish this on her.
The second was a stunner. It involved the dean of the street, the person who'd lived here longer than anyone. He was one of the early buyers in the entire subdivision, built in the mid 1980s, and might well have been an original owner.
If anyone were situated to ride this out, it would be him, not people who bought at the peak and not us poor renter schmucks who pray the landlord stays current. Or so I thought.
He works as an independent consultant, though, and times are tough in that profession. With companies in this area struggling to keep employees on the payroll, consulting was cut from the most budgets long ago. That's the downside of working for yourself. Without the safety net of unemployment, when things go south, they go south in a hurry.
In a sign that either hope or denial springs eternal, he'd pruned his trees and roses just weeks ago. We saw the same thing happen back in the summer, as a couple living across from Big Guy's school worked on their hands and knees for several mornings to plant flowers along their walkway. Weeks later, the "for sale by foreclosure" sign went up.
As we walked Big Guy to school this morning, I wondered who would be gone tomorrow.
The guy who owns the house-painting company? That's a splurge not many people are making now.
Dad's high school chum who runs a carpet-cleaning service? Even with the hefty "former soccer teammate" discount we got, I'd figured out about a year ago that buying a steam cleaner would save me in the long run.
The independent heating and air-conditioning contractor? Even though people still have to make those repairs, a bulk of his business came from construction. Not much of that going on right now.
God help us all, I thought.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.