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It comes in many forms...
I thought I was disappointed. You know, the kind of disappointment you feel when things don’t turn out the way you had hoped. That the thread doesn’t follow in the direction you anticipate, along a line that is illustrated in those copious Pinterest photos, where your bare, brown legs are stretched out in front of you with a lake in the distance. A small cottage, a hilltop, the sound of cicadas, the rush of water through a culvert at the mouth of the lake, the sparkles on the surface, the reeds at the edge slowly coming to life. The march of insects looking for food, being food, the various stages of a hemlocks life, a seedling hidden under oak leaves and brown needles, one grown to the size that you could easily dig up and move, and the bigger ones, acting as screens protecting you from the sight of neighbours down the lane…
But no. All of that was in my dreams. And its not the benign feeling of disappointment. It’s much worse.
What I’m really feeling is the result of trauma. The anguish one feels from having made a terrible mistake. It is the recognition that your reality is not mirroring your dream - that the cold facts of government regulations do not allow you to have that little cottage on this lake. According to them, you need a big cottage. A four-season house would be better. Because they need to collect the revenue. Even the septic guy said, “YOU are twenty years too early.” What? I thought I was 75 years too late. But today, everywhere you look there are people buying up property, removing every last tree, sanitizing, mowing, stripping bare the wild land they buy and putting up mansions. On the drive back, along the river on the other side, I see new houses that are indescribably monolithic. How can a single family live in those? How would they ever see each other? I’ve heard stories of houses so big they need two furnaces. They could house entire villages inside. I can’t even imagine so much inside space. Why would you want to be inside when the outside is so beautiful? Looking through glass, not feeling the breeze or hearing the buzzing.
I was petrified that I couldn’t get out of it. I thought I’d be stuck, having to buy what I no longer wanted, having to try to sell, and finding no one else would want it either. Or putting every last penny into making it into something that someone, not me, would want and not getting that money back. Or worse.
I cried out, “I’m the best person for this land!” I would nurture it, make sure it wasn’t poisoned. Watch every last inch of it as it grew, ensuring the plants were happy, the lakeside was untouched. Listening to the birds, chronicling nature’s year with my camera. Sitting. Being. I’m a freakin’ horticulturist for god’s sake.
I didn’t want plumbing. I didn’t want a septic system. I wanted an old fashioned outhouse or a new fangled composting toilet. But the regulations demanded otherwise. I wanted to live lightly, bring in my own water in giant plastic jugs. Erect a rain barrel or a small cistern. Maybe solar panels in the future as I got old and doddery. I wondered how long I would be able to drive the 53 minutes it took to come up to this place - surely I could do it well into my 70s at the very least. Would I be like my grandmother, who drove an archaic Citroen, and believed that street lights and stop signs were mere suggestions? Who rode a bicycle well into her 80s? You’d think she was a mentor in her devil-may-care ways, but no, she scared me shit-less. Especially when she came after me with a hair brush. She was British.
This past week of buyer’s remorse went by in absolute slow motion. I was thinking about every.single.way. I could lose all my money. I was terrified. There was no one to blame but myself. I was stupid and careless and now I had to pay. Literally. In the midst of it, I couldn’t help but weep.
Those voices again. What is called disasterizing. According to this licensed clinical social worker, it’s “sliding into an emotional ditch.” Yup. I know it well. I had always rationalized that doing that, almost like an exercise, would prepare me for the worst possible outcome. But he suggests that rather than doing that, it actually points you toward that very outcome because it is shaping your moods. But when you’re in the midst of that fear, it is mind-numbing, and it is hard to pull yourself back out of it and list all those reasons why, chances are, you won’t lose everything. Realtors and sellers aren’t in the business of suing people. Property sales fall through all the time. Wait, what about the “binding legal document”? What does that actually mean? But why would someone sue? Isn’t it better to just let the sale fall through and move forward? Surely real estate transactions take place in the millions, as do the withdrawals of offers? Breathe. Remember to breathe.
Today the cancellation of the deal became legal. And I can, in fact, breathe again. I’m too exhausted to be disappointed. And I am trying to break my long-standing relationship with disasterizing.