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by Courtney Capone 14 days ago in anxiety

Fear Grows

I submitted the last document requested by the mortgage underwriter today.

It was a divorce decree from my first marriage. Strange how the document needed to start a new adventure with my husband, was proof that I no longer have ties to someone I never should have married.

They needed to know that I wasn't paying him alimony or still paying off any shared property. The idea was almost laughable. First of all, we're both married so any alimony payments would have ended but there were never any to begin with. Had there been, they certainly wouldn't have come from me. And we definitely never owned property.

He was in the Navy. Temporary was a way of life. His career paid enough that during the times that I worked at all, I earned very little and would mostly have jobs out of boredom. But there was no way for a mortgage underwriter to know that, so when my three different last names popped up (maiden, first married name, current legal married name), they wanted the decree.

It wasn't easy to get. The timeline of my life often escapes me. I'm really bad at remembering when exactly things happened but this was especially difficult. I left him YEARS before we were officially divorced because he was convinced that if he didn't sign the papers, eventually I'd come back. And since both of us moved around a lot during that time... not only did I not know WHEN the divorce was finalized... I didn't know WHERE either.

I sent him a text message and asked if he had the paperwork. He said he'd look. It took him four days to tell me he didn't have it but unlike me, he knew what court to contact.

My work schedule doesn't leave me a lot of time to make phone calls. I rarely get lunch breaks and my days off are Wednesdays and Sundays. Sunday the court wasn't open and Wednesday seemed like making them wait too long. So I managed to grab a break to make a phone call. I was told that the document was personal and legal and that it could not be sent by email nor mail, I'd have to come pick it up in person with ID.

The court is about seven hours away.

I contacted the underwriter and asked what would happen if I couldn't get the decree. She told me that she could draft a statement for me to sign via docu-sign stating that the marriage ended officially on (insert date here) and that I legally attest and affirm that we had no shared property, and that there were no funds being paid in the form of alimony and/or child support. Easy enough, I can legally attest and affirm those things all day long. Problem was, she wasn't sure if the mortgage brokerage would accept that.

We were so close. The inspection was completed, the appraisal happened (though we have not received the results of that yet), and the mortgage was conditionally approved... the condition being yet another mountain of paperwork to try not to drown in.

I called the court again today and I BEGGED. I explained the situation and why I needed the decree and offered any information they needed to prove I was who I said I was. The person I spoke to today was much nicer and emailed me the decree without issue. I sent it immediately to the underwriter.

Every time I think I've submitted everything they could possibly need, they somehow come up with more. I am waiting for the official legal documents about when I lost my virginity and a list of every book I've ever read and a signed and dated letter from my neighbors as proof of life that my dog hasn't eaten them... yet.

I swear, it would be easier to send them a pound of flesh and a DNA test proving I'm human.

I have not ruled those out as possibilities either.

But our closing date has not changed. It's still standing at December 15th. Which is not very far away. Movers have been booked (with the understanding that we can change the date if necessary) but nothing has been packed. Until I know for absolute certainty that this is happening, I refuse to do ANYTHING that in ANY way resembles the idea that I believe it's real, it will be in the timeframe I've planned for, or that I think it will all go smoothly.

Every time I've thought that... every time without fail... bad bad things have happened.

And every day that moves us closer to moving has me sinking further and further into a deep anxiety-riddled fear.

Hope is dangerous. I guess I'd rather fear the worst and be pleasantly surprised than hope for the best and be horribly disappointed.

It seems a sad way to live... but I have reasons. So many reasons.

I look around the apartment I'm still living in and I remember it all so clearly. Strange for someone who has little grasp of her own life's timeline. But this place... I remember it empty.

I remember the day we stepped inside it. I can even tell you the exact date. March 13, 2020. It was a Friday. I know this because it was the first Friday the 13th I had off from work in... well... ever... so I was planning to get a tattoo.

If you're not a skin art fanatic and don't know, tattoo shops run sales on Friday the 13th.

I was getting a lot of tattoos back then. My dog had just died and it was my way of coping with the pain. I replaced it with physical pain that I understood and asked for and knew would heal. Not the healthiest thing in the world, but I have beautiful scars.

I was really looking forward to that day. I'm pretty sure it's the last day I ever let myself be excited about. Because that morning, as I was getting ready to head to the tattoo shop, our landlord informed us that we had until the end of the month to leave. We were evicted.

We'd done nothing wrong. All we did was ask if we could get another dog. I was drowning in the silence of living without part of my heart and I needed it to be a possibility. Our lease was month to month and they were in the process of renovating the building. They were systematically kicking people out as soon as their leases were up so they could make the apartments nicer and bring in new people that would have to pay higher rent. We were just next on the list.

March 13th. The month already half behind us and a pandemic looming in front of us and we had to find a new place to live. A place where we'd be forced to sign a year lease... something I did NOT want to do because getting out of Florida was the only thing I wanted since the moment I arrived.

I was scared. I was angry. I was... not letting anything stop me from getting tattooed. So my husband went with me to the tattoo shop and while I was being inked, he was searching for apartments.

He found a few that seemed promising and as soon as I was freshly plastic wrapped, we started driving around. The place we ended up living, was the last one on our list. The landlord lived in Miami and would need to meet us here later.

I loved this apartment instantly from the moment we stepped inside. It was beautiful. Bigger than our old place with our own washer and dryer and a pool. It was a tri-plex so limited neighbors and neither of the other apartments were taken yet so we'd live here alone initially.

My husband was a bit more resistant. The rent was more than what we'd been previously paying and our finances hadn't increased. I told him that if I was going to be stuck in Florida for another year, I wanted to be stuck in a place I didn't despise. We signed the papers about a half an hour later and it was set that we'd be allowed to move our things in on March 30th.

It took us all day and by the time we were done, we never even bothered to eat. We just went to bed. I spent all day on March 31st, unpacking and setting up the apartment and on April first, I picked up our dog Rosie from the shelter.

It was supposed to be good. We had a new, beautiful apartment, we had a new amazing dog, and when our neighbors moved in, they seemed really great.

It was supposed to be good.

Supposed to be.

Rosie was (and still is) an incredible dog. But I couldn't let her in. Not fully. I couldn't love her. I felt like I betrayed the dog I'd spent the previous 16 years with and to love Rosie would be to leave her behind completely. I had an intense feeling of guilt... both toward the dog I'd lost and the new dog in my life that deserved to be loved.

The pandemic went into full swing but I was still working. Our neighbors were not nearly who they appeared to be in the beginning. Mostly, their teacup human.

I do not hate children... I just don't particularly enjoy them. They tend to be loud and inexplicably sticky, germ carrying, screaming, repetitive (repetition is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves) creatures that feel a need to tell me things.

That definitely sounded like I hate children.

I hate some children. Mostly, I hate the child next door. He is FERAL. That kid is either sleeping or screaming with absolutely no in between and he's NOT an infant. His father also screams a lot, they LOVE to slam doors, they constantly have people over which makes my dog go insane and they declawed one of their cats and quite possibly killed the other.

So the cool neighbor thing went out the window pretty quickly.

The beauty of the apartment also faded pretty fast as we came to learn the place was purchased in foreclosure and the only alterations made were cosmetic which meant that things started falling apart at a rapid rate.

Our ceiling collapsed. Three times. We were forced to stay living here while it was being fixed and all of the crap that was pulled out gave one of my cats pneumonia and denied us access to our kitchen. It also destroyed several of our belongings, which the landlords reimbursed through lowered rent that month but then later decided to charge us for claiming it was our fault.

We're fighting that.

When the circuit to the apartment's electric died, I had to pay to spend a night in a hotel to keep my chinchilla alive without AC in the apartment while my husband, cats and dog sweated it out.

That killed the refrigerator and we lived without one for a week. The replacement they gave us was old, cheap and used and only a matter of months later, is already broken.

I decorated this place until it felt like home but within the first month that we lived here, we had to replace ALL of our picture frames because they kept falling off of the wall and breaking. Later, during the fix of the ceiling, though we were assured they'd be careful, an item from our wedding and an item from our honeymoon were knocked over and thrown away.

Our hot water in our bathroom doesn't work properly. Rather than fix it, we were told to brush our teeth in the kitchen if we NEEDED hot water for that. The shower works so they didn't see it as a problem.

All of the plumbing needed to be replaced and they turned off our water for 8 hours a day every day for a week. My husband works from home and was not allowed to use the bathroom for 8 hours a day.

The central air conditioning doesn't work properly in the bedroom because this was supposed to be a two bedroom apartment but they walled off the second bedroom and turned it into an illegal efficiency apartment. Her electricity is on our bill.

That's how the ceiling collapsed. By walling off part of the apartment and cutting the central AC off from it, they created a situation where the unit was too big for the square footage it was cooling causing it to overwork, condensation to build up and inevitable, crash through the ceiling.

These are just SOME of the problems we've had since we've been living here. ALL of them were blamed on US.

So now, we're staring down the barrel of purchasing our own house. A house that LOOKS amazing. And all I can think is...

What's going to go wrong this time?

Now, no landlord to blame us, we just have to fix things ourselves. And who am I to hope that any of this will be smooth sailing?

Fool me once... and all that.

Buying a house was our way of getting away from landlords. Getting away from sharing walls with screaming feral children and cat killing adults. And being back in the northeast, close to my brother, close to my parents (ish), is something I've wanted since I moved here 7 years ago.

But I also wanted THIS apartment. And as I look around and remember when the walls were blank and our stuff wasn't here and all the hope it promised but never fulfilled... dread enters my mind.

It was MY idea to get this apartment.

Just like it was MY idea to buy a house.

And THIS house was the one I loved the most.

And it holds so much promise.

But will it be fulfilled? Or will it fall apart around us like this apartment did?

Will we actually be there for closing on December 15th or will we be held up and miss yet another holiday with family based on paperwork and legal things I don't even understand?

So I sit here stuck in limbo. I can't pack. I can't think of this as good or hopeful or exciting.

I just wait for a hammer to fall on me.

This is the mindset built on a foundation of "what now?" and "why is this happening?"

Cynicism and fear of hope when anything potentially good gets close.

And it gets closer by the day.

Or does it?

I guess we'll see.


Courtney Capone

A veterinary technician, writer and animal advocate from New York. Currently living in South Florida and desperately trying to escape. Runs on Starbucks and the love of her husband and 7 rescue animals.

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