Five years ago is a summer I will never forget and am glad that I can now look back on it with laughter instead of tears. In July of 2010, my life as a single mom and sole provider for my youngest son began. The first and most important priority at that time was to find a house to rent.
Finding a house to rent sounds like it should be pretty easy, but as it turns out it wasn’t.
I signed up to receive email notifications for rental properties that were within my budget, in our school district and accepted pets. Days and days passed with nothing showing up in my inbox. I was beginning to think something was wrong when, ding, ding ding – I had mail!
There was a house that met all of the criteria, so my realtor scrambled to make an appointment the very same day. Christian and I wandered through the house. The carpet was worn, there was a very damp smell to the basement, and the yard was seriously in need of some attention. Sizing things up, we kept repeating to each other, “it’s not great, but it’s better than the apartment.”
We convinced each other that it was going to be great and we could make it work, so I filled out the paperwork, dropped it off, and held my breath. One day passed, another day passed, and on the third day our application was rejected – or rather we learned that the house had been leased to another family.
In between sobs, I explained to my parents how horrible it was that we wouldn’t be moving into a house we didn’t love, in a neighborhood that wasn’t great. Wow, now it even sounds ridiculous to me. 🙂
It seemed like forever until I finally received another promising email, so long in fact that I had ordered and received new shower curtains, towels, and comforters for the apartment. I’d also hung new pictures and put flowers in the window of the apartment to try and lift our spirits and soften the memories.
As with the first opportunity, I was on top of the situation. Within hours of receiving the email, I’d arranged a visit with the homeowner. The references in the lease to specific types of nails and cleaning supplies should have been a clue that it wasn’t going to be a great fit, but it wasn’t…
I sent the homeowner pictures of my kids and of my home in Omaha as a way to convince her that I’d take good care of her property. After she called and grilled my close friends (character references) about my ability to take care of a home, she extended the offer to rent to the house to me. Not only that, she agreed to let me paint the walls and I agreed to use the cleaning supplies listed in the lease.
Although the agreement was only verbal, I turned in my notice at the apartment complex with a smile.
The morning I was scheduled to meet the painter an email arrived,
Good Morning Beth,
Thank you for sharing the photos of your family and your home with me. You have beautiful children and a lovely home.
At this point, it is with sadness that I must tell you that I cannot enter into a rental agreement with you. After serious soul searching, tossing and turning through the night, I have decided that it is time for me to move forward in my life.
I have held on to that house for many years because I have a hard time letting go of things I love. I am starting a new job in a couple of weeks and it is time for me to lessen the load and stress I have been carrying for too long.
My days of being a Landlord are behind me. As I told you, I really want to sell the house. I’m sure you and your son are wonderful people and we would have had a great relationship. Nonetheless, the season in my life has changed.
I spoke to my Agent about this. She told me she just listed a beautiful house for rent which is available for immediate occupancy in the same school district which might be perfect for you. She will be happy to show it to you without delay. I believe these unfolding events will work out for the long term best for each of us. I pray your initial disappointment will become joyful just as quickly.
Sincerely and with very best wishes,
The woman who said she’d rent to you
The house she recommended was so far out of my reach it wasn’t even funny. I honestly didn’t think the tears would ever stop after receiving this email. Thank goodness the management at the apartment complex accepted my un-notice and we still had a place to live.
I’d all but given up hope.
Then, serendipity made her presence known in my life.
My realtor texted me and, the next day I found “my house.”
The front walk was uneven and I made a mental note to be careful if I ever decided to wear heels again. One misstep and I’d be sure to leave the whole shoe behind. My new landlord (lady) greeted with a warm smile and a hug after a single ding announced my arrival; I’d already begun to think of her as a friend.
“Let’s start the tour here in the kitchen, I’ll go over the appliances in here, and Tim will be ‘round directly to show you how to use the fireplace and furnace. They can be a bit tricky, but you’ll be fine. The neighbors are great, and we’re only a phone call away,” she said.
I took notes about everything from how low I could let the oil tank go, to which key went with which door, and how to prevent a moat from forming when it rains too hard. I squeezed as many questions as possible in between her excited explanations.
The final stop on the tour of the house was my bedroom. “Now about your room, I’ve already decided this color is all wrong for you, it’s way too dull. But I want to wait a bit to paint so I can think of just the right color to fill it with sunshine for you.”
My room is now the color of sunshine.
I don’t have two cats in the yard and sometimes life is still hard, but I am grateful every day for my very, very fine house.