Monday, November 04, 2013

Jagged little secrets.

I've been spending quite a bit of time at the home improvement stores trying to get ready for my appraisal.

On Friday I was buying something. I had my tape measure out and the sales gal strolled up on me. We did the usual small talk, and before I knew it she volunteered she'd lost her house. I was stunned, honestly. Wow, we're already at that stage, I thought. Then it was like I was floating out there in air for a couple of seconds. I don't even remember what I said to cause this revelation. My mind was on my own crap. And what do you say to that? The only thing you can, I guess.

Everyone I know lost their houses, I replied. I'm the only on who didn't. And before you know it we were having this super raw conversation. She was confirming every suspicion I had about the recession. People have been in such vulnerable places that you are at best getting half truths. But this girl didn't know me. She had nothing to hide behind or from. And obviously the stigma is completely gone.

Even I can't judge her. I know how much pain people were in just by their zip code. A starter house in California is more money than most people will make in a lifetime. When you are 40% down - it changes you. Forever. Even I thought about walking away a million times. A good majority of people who lost their houses also lost their marriages. I started noticing it a few years ago. I was never quite sure if they were having problems first, but now it's clear that the houses took them out. The divorces came second.

You don't really have to try that hard to hear these stories. Even I try to tread much more lightly as not to hit a landmine. I've just heard so many of them it affects me. But that girl... that moment will stay with me for a really long time. It was the rawest 20 minutes I've had in a while.

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