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An open question, an open sore - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
An open question, an open sore
When I wrote a few weeks ago that had secured financing for my home, I was new. I didn’t realize that mortgage brokers have the ethics of used car salesmen, and that “yes” meant “maybe.” When I spammed out applications for financing, each time giving up my social security number, I had no idea that each one would run my credit report, lowering my FICO score with every inquiry.

I long for my innocence three weeks ago when my cherry was intact, before I felt used and ashamed, and a little bloody.

It’s been a frenzied scramble to secure an impossibly large loan with last minute’s notice, and I continue to hang my hope on two mortgage lenders, the last ones standing, who assure me they’ll find the right “product” for me. In the meantime, I’ve searched for a new home, one that could house me and my memories, but there is nothing in Venice that is remotely livable in my price range. Calm down, Terry. Just look a little inland. There’ll be something.

Yeah, but it won’t be our home, I argue with myself. I troll the MLS site with more fervor than any porn site I’ve ever visited, and I finally settled on the West Adams Historic district. It’s a neighborhood that’s “in transition” and I’ll be a “pioneer.” Spitting distance from downtown LA and USC, it’s also really close to the intersection where a hapless truck driver, Reginald Denny, got the shit kicked out of him during the ’92 riots.

Settled in the late 19th Century, the homes are large, but have fallen into disrepair from years of neglect and crime. The neighborhood is largely Latino and black families living in large, rambling Craftsmen homes, many parceled into apartments. Signs in Spanish dominate the neighboring small shops and restaurants. Most of the houses have bars on their windows and doors.

When it looked like my hope for keeping our Venice home was sifting through my fingers no matter how hard I tried to close my fist, one of the homes I inspected was a two-story, four-bedroom house built in 1903. A skittish woman in her sixties has lived there for the past eighteen years, and she said there’s never been one instance of trouble. I believe her. She whispered that five nuns lived there before she bought it, so it’s been properly exorcised.

“I have home movies of the house from 1929,” she said. I nodded, noting how exciting it would be to see those films.


The house has a grand staircase in the foyer, pocket doors that lead to a large living room, coffered ceilings, a very formal dining room dominated by a spectacular built-in china cabinet accented with leaded glass, a sun porch off the living room, and those four rooms alone are larger than our front little bungalow in Venice. Off the dining room lies a butler’s pantry, which leads to a kitchen that’s in sad shape, its original tiles ripped from the walls to leave bare mortar, and the refrigerator that blocks a mysterious door. There’s a service staircase that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms.

On the second floor, things really start to unravel. In three of the bedrooms, old cat pee-stained carpet covers the original fir flooring. The fourth bedroom has no carpet, but someone at some point painted the floor black. The master bedroom has a fireplace with an ornate mantle, and a sitting room off to the left before reaching a huge closet with built-in drawers and cabinets. The bathroom, the only one in the entire house, has a permanently stained tub, although it does have a bright little sun porch on the other side of it.

The house has a pitch roof, and the attic is ten-feet high running across the expanse of the entire floor plan, ripe for refinishing. In 1905, the owner built a connected servant’s quarters, and now it houses a USC med student that pays $850.00 in rent. The unit also has coffered ceilings, a fireplace, and its kitchen is in much better shape than the one in the main house.

For the third time, I visited the house yesterday and saw its possibilities. I walked through the grand rooms and imagined how much Billy would’ve loved the adventure this house is certain to deliver. I tried to place our limited and small-scaled furniture, and knew that I’d be scouring flea markets for large armoires and ten-foot tall bookcases and maybe a fainting couch. I thought that buying this house would instantly give me a hobby; one I may grow to love or one that would engulf me given that I can barely hang a picture without some sort of mishap.

If I’m forced to leave our home in Venice, I know that I’ll certainly have enough room for all of our stuff, all of Billy’s projects, both finished and those projects that will always wait to be finished. It’s tough, though, because everywhere I look in our home in Venice, I can see Billy, standing right there in that spot, whatever spot it is, laughing or hollering or crying or dancing or just being silly Billy.

Those memories are tactile and alive right now, and if I move into this big old house, they’ll simply be memories.

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Comments
tedwords From: tedwords Date: November 6th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
You convinced me. It sounds absolutely terrific.
ratchetrn6 From: ratchetrn6 Date: November 6th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
the house certainly sounds interesting. I'd love to see pictures, although your descriptions were so grand that i was able to picture it perfectly. I love you for never forgetting Billy, even worrying about his things, the memories and all. People forget to easily these days. I am glad (and i am sure Billy is too) that you remain true.
From: ex_hotlavamo352 Date: November 6th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you want to move together? I can cook and clean while you go to auditions! Your parents don't like me, but we can make it!
stutts From: stutts Date: November 6th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I totally forgot about Reginald Denny. The white Rodney King.
gotu From: gotu Date: November 6th, 2005 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
When we were looking at houses in Williamsport, we found one in town, an old victorian which the town is known for. It had a wrap-around front porch, back deck, and a second story porch. A huge archway led into the living room, which had french doors and a fireplace. The house itself was filled with alcoves and quirky window benches. We loved it. It was $138,000, way under what we were prepared to pay. We also looked at a house that was only nine years old and completely up-to-date with a two car garage. We drove the mountains around the city, the both of us utterly torn between the two houses. Finally, we drove by the best elementary school in the area, close to the newer house. We thought of all the work we put into the Laurel house, and all the work we would have to put into the victorian, and we opted for the safer choice.

We wimped out completely.
From: danman869 Date: November 6th, 2005 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I still have access to the SoCal MLS (my real estate agent friend gave me his login info earlier this year when Dennis and I were doing our househunting) and was just on there trying to figure out/find the listing for the house. It sounds really great, actually. The toughest part, if you wind up actively pursuing the place in West Adams, is that you would leave behind the Venice house.

I think the West Adams house would be a great adventure for you! Heck, maybe you could get fabulist to come west and lend his handyman skills?

I think Billy will approve whatever winds up happening.

*HUGS*
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 6th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can find the house here. The woman who's lived there all of these years is very fond of pink--huge walls of pink, and where the walls aren't painted pink, they're wallpapered in flowers.

Joe will definitely have his work cut out for him.
fabulist From: fabulist Date: November 6th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you have to leave that home behind, the memories won't "simply be memories," Terry.

They'll become a part of you, right at the core of who you are, and they'll be unleashed in a way that they've never been yet, set free to carry you through this whole amazing world instead of being tied to mere objects and the little patch of dirt where those stories played out. Memories should be the wind in your sails, not the anchor that holds you in one place, circling endlessly around the place where that journey came to an end.

Billy's love and hope and dreams need to be alive again, in you and in the world.

If you invest wood and plaster and familiar places with something as rare and precious as the life you've lived, it'll die when you do, consigned to the landfill, forgotten and meaningless. Don't confuse the props and setting with the story—it's the story that matters, and the dream.

You taught me that better than anyone else could have, and you helped me to see the anchor that was keeping me from being who I'm meant to be and I cut the chain with the strength I found in you. Sometimes I get lost and lonely and more than a little afraid of where I'm going, and then I just close my eyes and let myself go back to where it all started, and it's all still there, everything I thought I let go, always burning in my heart like a sweet fire to keep me warm. All I lost were the signs and symbols, which were never the real thing to begin with.

Maybe your next home will be in that big old house, in a place where you never made dinner for Billy or had an argument with him or had him cut your hair or made love to him or anything at all. Maybe you'll be in a neighborhood where he's never been, seeing sights he'd never have seen, and living a life unlike anything he'd have expected you to live, and Superba will ache in your heart like an open wound for a long, long time, but do you really think that it'll all become "simply memories," without Billy watching over you and delighting in the new world you find out there?

Don't make me laugh.
From: kelly_green Date: November 6th, 2005 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
that is so beautiful. wow.
thafuzz From: thafuzz Date: November 7th, 2005 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
There seems to be a ghose of Roy Rogers hiding behind a chair in the dining room.

Just sayin'.
creactivity From: creactivity Date: November 7th, 2005 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG...is it anywhere near this house?!?! (2302 Arlington)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 7th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Arlington is about six blocks away. I'm not certain where this house is, but it can't be too far. It's the same neighborhood.

You wanna come up when I'm settled and explore together?
mondragon From: mondragon Date: November 7th, 2005 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
My first lover Eddie and I bought a fabulous co-op when we were together. Huge rooms, dark hardwood floors, windows everywhere, views of the Hudson river, 20x26 living room with a huge carved stone fireplace. After he died I cocooned there for about a year but after that I realized I was completely stuck. I had stopped living. I was living in a shrine that I couldn't bring myself to disturb. I have a couple of boxes of his stuff that I kept because it was both his and ours, and some of it uniquely his. I look at it every couple of years. It just brings back happy memories - not a shrine, but a scrapbook, I think.

Re: transitional neighborhoods and pioneering - it's different in the NYC/NJ metro area because you're more in neighborhoods here, less get-in-the-car-and-drive-away, but we bought a great 3-story victorian that had been painted scary colors by the previous crackhead tenants. We got it for almost nothing. I loved the inside of the house. We did a lot of work before we moved in (I'd highly recommend it, living in construction dust is awful) and I loved it. But the neighborhood. Noisy, inconsiderate, drug-using, Shaniqua getting into a fight with L'Moesha on the sidewalk in front of me and one of them pulling a knife. I just hated it after a while.

So there's a range of what "transitional" means, and how far in the wilderness "pioneering" puts you and make sure you understand how much you're willing to put up with.

It looks like a fabulous space, though. The dining room! I melt with Envy.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 10th, 2005 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

I drove around the neighborhood for about two hours last weekend, and didn't find a grocery store. That was troublesome, but the block I'm on already has a gay couple and a preservationist, so I think if I just stay on my block...
From: airydramalounge Date: November 9th, 2005 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Best of luck to you!

I feel a certain kinship...we've got so many bad mortgage-broker stories chalked up in the last year, it's unbelievable. And our guy was a friend of a friend! I feel your pain on the transitional neighborhood, too. Sometimes it's wonderful and refreshing, and other times, it's a bit scary. We're taking the "cross your fingers and hope more artists and homos move in" approach. Not to mention having the police on speed-dial.

guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 10th, 2005 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!

I guess you guys made it safely through the financing minefield, and are now in your home. How is it being a pioneer? You don't have to wear a three-cornered hat, do you?
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: November 12th, 2005 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
sorry bub, sounds like a kick no matter what. When it comes to mortgage brokers, even a definate yes means that they are already tasting your blood. Horrid horrid creatures for the most part.

good luck, I've got my stuff crossed for ya

Love Munkey
poodler From: poodler Date: January 13th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Jealous

Well, I'm jealous. We spent a year tearing down and rebuilding our house into a modern bungalow (Glen prefers referring to it as arts and crafts). Your house sounds fantastic.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: January 14th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Jealous

Is that your home in your icon? It's beautiful, and very arts and crafts. Where is it? In Brooklyn? Queens? Further?
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