I’m working on my holiday card prototype, which requires some photo perusing. As I’ve been gathering photos together to help me on it, I stumbled back into our California trip photos and I’ve gotten lost in them again. I can’t believe that six months later I still get chills when I see them. I was looking through our first full day hike in Yosemite, noticing things I hadn’t seen before. There are dozens and dozens of photos, and when I scroll through them I can see how the day unfolded. Views constantly changing as we climbed. I remember putting my camera away in my backpack – for the last time – just to pull it back out again fifteen minutes later, and then again, and still again.
I will never forget the way I felt the following day, as we climbed Glacier Point and gazed across the valley to the place we climbed the day before. We could trace the waterfalls up, up, up, and follow the ridge line around to where it started to descend again. I kept saying that we might have never even attempted it if we had taken the whole view in at the start – if we had known exactly what we were getting into. If we had a real visual of what 2,000 feet of elevation looked like from afar, not just the start of a path through the woods, the sound of water somewhere just up ahead, our footfalls and conversation and birdsong and breath. Maybe we would have second guessed our ambitious plans.
September was supposed to be the month. The perfect month for breaking ground on our house project – plenty of time to get things closed up for winter. Our drawings were finished this spring – version 3.0 if you’re keeping track. Big changes, that took some getting used to, especially for me. But the energy was back at least. We left for a big trip for CA, and knew we were coming back to a busy summer of permitting and organizing and financing and maybe even some packing.
And then there was a moment that felt almost like fate. Another house, long admired, became available. We almost didn’t look, the timing was so off, our energy was elsewhere. But we did, and we both fell hard. All four of us did. I pictured a new scenario that wasn’t hard like permitting, organizing, ground-breaking hard. Still financing and packing hard – and in the end that’s what did it in. We weren’t ready enough here or secure enough there to brave the bridge between the two. June and July were hard, and draining.
We learned our long time neighbors were losing their house. They begin to move out as we began to tackle some of the big exterior projects on our house that we had put off for too long. We were trying to fall back in love with our own house again – to muster back up the enthusiasm we had lost along the way. It worked, but it was bittersweet in tandem with the loss felt by our neighbors.
We realized soon after they left that their leaving also meant that our project could not move forward as planned. All the variances we had secured and petitioned for in our conditional use hearing were now void. I spent several weeks towards the end of summer making phone calls between 8am-9am each morning, trying to track down the bank or entity that now owned the house. I have thirteen documented phone numbers in my ill-directed quest. I finally landed on a live person in Atlanta, a representative for the bank in Chicago in control of the house. I had a promise for newly signed variances from this group until they emailed me the Friday of Labor Day weekend to say that they had changed their mind. We were back to the beginning.
We are now in a state of limbo. We cannot obtain a building permit to start construction until we a. have notarized variances and a maintenance agreement from the owner of the house, or b. we appeal the rejection of our permit to the Board of Adjustment and cross our fingers they let us move forward without the signed permissions. The house sold (we think) in an online auction for foreclosures, but I can’t track down any information if an actual sale went through, so option a. is a bust for now. Option b. isn’t much better, as we’re not slated to appear for our appeal until December 11th – over three months from when I tried to get on the agenda. Now I call once a week for possible cancellations, and try to keep my Wednesday afternoons clear at work.
It’s frustrating and hard, and I try not to let it get me down. But time is speeding by these school days and weeks, and progress feels halting and slow and the end is really not in sight to me anymore.
Our dishwasher is completely dead, and we refuse to buy another one until we purchase a new one for the new kitchen. We hand wash dishes each night, and I cross my fingers in the suds that something’s going to eventually break in our favor here.