Monday, August 25, 2008

love at first sight

i'm a superstitious girl. i fully believe in jinxes. i refuse to acknowledge whenever a tigers pitcher goes more than three innings without allowing a hit. i dared not mention to b, when our best friend chris was crashing on our couch the weekend after the bar exam, that he wasn't snoring (i love chris, but that's not normal). i don't mention if the weather is good on a winter drive from the west side of michigan to the east. i just don't mention.

which is why the previous post is not the whole story. i just couldn't dare to mention it.

what i wanted to write was how, just one measly week after i finished the bar exam, on the next wednesday afternoon - i was skipping. i was leaving our real estate agents' office, a binder with condo rules held close to my chest. i was grinning like a damn fool. jesus, i thought. there's no WAY it's only been one week.

you didn't know we were looking for a condo? that we had a real estate agent? neither did we, before monday. well, maybe sunday. sunday, we dropped chris off at the airport, and took 395 to eastern market to grab a coffee. i was trying to convince b that we should get a new car. i want a new car. our car is small and it shakes at 63 miles per hour (one of the tires is slightly bent - from parallel parking, no doubt) and what better way to celebrate taking the bar? we were thinking about it. and then b mentioned that this condo he'd seen on craigslist was having an open house that afternoon, just down the street.

now, let me be clear. though we weren't looking looking for a condo, we've been avid real estate stalkers for a couple of years now. i've watched virtual tours online of nearly every house or condo on the market in dc. it's how we unwind: look at houses, daydream about what we'd do and how awesome it will be when our real life has begun, and we can look look. so when we walked into the newly gutted 1930s building on sunday, we were not completely uneducated.

but even still, i was totally overwhelmed by the idea that we might live there, what with the teak floors and cesearstone countertops and patio. and doors that separate both bedrooms from the rest of the place. and windows. oh the windows. they open. windows that open. and a dishwasher. can you imagine?! a dishwasher. i'm sure we left looking like cartoon characters, with our eyes mysteriously shaped like hearts and walking two feet off the street.

the next evening, we sat in the office of the only real estate agent i called, who was recommended by DG, and who by chance was already representing the people who have the unit above the one we wanted under contract. we sat there, and i felt a like giggling or pinching myself, what with all the talk of closing dates and elfa closets and offers. and i spent the whole of our anniversary on the phone with half the mortgage brokers in the metro DC area, waiting for the call that those folks on HGTV are always prepared for - when the cameras turn on and the phone conveniently rings. we sat at a sports bar in cleveland park waiting for the phone to ring, though we left without getting a single call.

it has not been an easy few weeks. i spent much of the saturday night before last in a hospital in troy, michigan, hooked up to a heart monitor, my heart skipping a beat once nearly every minute. we watched the olympics until 2am on a miniature television, while the doctor sat across the hall and watched my heart beat. i've been stressed, i've been sick to my stomach. i've seen the new home slip through our fingers more than once. i've talked to more mortgage brokers than i can remember, and i've shed a few tears.

and today, finally, i scheduled the movers. we take up residence at our first home a month from tomorrow. so this fall, you'll find us on the back patio, grilling and relaxing and grinning.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

done waiting for my real life to begin

i thought i would do cartwheels out of the roanoke civic center last week. i thought i'd skip, or maybe even fly, back to my car. a week later, those days are a blur. but the sensation i felt as i quietly pushed my chair back from the table, stood up, and looked over the hundreds of poor compatriots - that sensation has not left me. i thought i'd shake it as i dropped my scantron in the huge bin, my exam book in the next, and my bar exam id in the little box. i thought maybe as i passed through the doors, through the lobby where i felt as though i'd spent hours waiting for the doors to open, unable to bear standing outside in the brutal heat in my requisite court attire. maybe i expected it to suddenly be 75 and breezy in roanoke. as i walked back to my car, i tried to muster .... something. joy, fear, something. but i had nothing - i was numb. i called b as i waited for the a/c in the car to kick in, and his joy at hearing my voice, knowing i was done, far eclipsed what i was feeling.

OH MY GOD! how does it feel? does it feel awesome?

not really.

not really?

i don't really feel anything.

oh it will sink in.

and then i could hear his coworkers: is that s? is she DONE? OH MY GOD SHE'S DONE! YAY S!

and still, nothing. i stopped about five miles from the civic center, realizing that i left my victory/reward dunhills in the back of the car, thinking a celebratory smoke or two would help it sink in. it just compounded the dull throbbing in my head.

i couldn't have been more than 30 miles outside of roanoke when i first started to think i might not make it home that night. dark clouds moved in fast, and the transition was quick from sprinkles to a downpour so heavy i could barely see 10 feet in front of the car, even at 5:30 in the afternoon. i slowed to 30, as did everyone else around me, our blinkers all on, and forced my exhausted brain to focus. my knuckles were white as i tracked the progress of this monsoon on my odometer. three miles. five. five and a half. five and three quarters. ultimately, it ended up lasting for 13 miles - which at 30 miles an hour is too fucking long to be driving 30 on the interestate after just taking the bar exam and wanting nothing else than to get home to your husband and a nice glass of wine.

i think at about 11 miles i started wondering if it was going to stop. i could feel the exhaustion rising, like the heartburn i had saturday night after ethiopian food. i was afraid i was driving the length of the front, that it might last forever. i could feel the lump in my throat and knew no one would hear me if i cried, but that then i really wouldn't be able to see. and no one heard my whining - oh my god this is never going to end. what do i have to do for this to just be fucking OVER?! there was even a little yelling, a little you have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! and then, it was over. the rain completely stopped, the evening sun was there, and i realized how tense every muscle in my body was. i took a few deep breaths, pushed in my cigarette lighter, and cracked the window. it's over. thank god.

as i said it to the empty car, quiet since 14 miles prior when i had turned off the music so i could concentrate, i didn't know what i was talking about - the storm or the Exam. the numbness, i realized, was relief. an enormous, heavy relief, the likes of which i seriously have never felt. a lawyer friend told me some time ago that this summer was going to feel a lot like banging my head against a wall for ten straight weeks. but he promised that it would stop hurting instantly and relief would immediately follow. i leaned back in my seat, turned coldplay back on and enjoyed the dunhill. and my god was i relieved.


a couple hours later, the sun was falling. the smell of cigarette smoke was pretty much cleared out of the car, since i had been driving with the windows down. on the happy side of the front, it was less than 80 degrees. i drove with the windows down, in my suit, comfortable. at some point i switched from coldplay to colin hay (after about 15 CDs that just didn't do the trick). i smelled the air. i mean, actually smelled it. i was telling b this and he said, it smelled like the South, didn't it? and oh god it did. whatever that smell is, they need to bottle it and sell it at pottery barn with little sticks (that are a mystery to me, seriously, what are those little sticks they put in the bottles with the perfume for your house - anyone?) and they should just call it "the south." and it was gorgeous. the rain had left the trees and grass a darker green, and a strange fog clung to the treetops of the mountains. the blue ridge delivered. i found myself realizing that the last time i had genuinely smelled outside was back in may, when the first magnolias bloomed and i went out of my way to walk on streets where i knew i'd find them. i spent so much time locked in my english basement, stuffing my brain, that i had no time all summer to even smell outside. that is fucked up friends. it really is.

i probably listened to the colin hay album three times, though each time i came to my anthem, waiting for my real life to begin, i'd go back and listen once or twice more. the difference was that unlike all those other mornings, i woke up that morning and suddenly something happened. something actually happened.

i decided not to treat the next three months before i start work as waiting, but as a victory lap. i'm going to soak up the time spent as an auntie extraordinaire back in michigan. i'm going to read books on the beach alone. i'm going to nap in my parents' hammock. i'm going to try like hell not to fight with them, and to not think about what a disaster the last summer i lived with them, a decade ago now, was. i'm going to remind myself that my real life has begun.

don't worry, i'll tell you all about it.