The Recovery Begins

My recovery begins. My modified mortgage is official, I think. Celebrations were held, mostly by others. Life is improving, slowly – and that’s the way pivotal good news happens, slowly and incrementally (unless I hit the lottery jackpot.) Welcome to a new phase of personal finance.

I’m reasonably confident that my modified mortgage is official. I have the signed paperwork that proves that someone signed paperwork. There are doubts. The paperwork’s arrival was followed by an unofficial set of emails from the lawyers and mediators who hadn’t been informed. I’d contacted the mortgage servicer, but it looks like they hadn’t contacted their lawyer. I contacted my counselor, who was happy to hear the news and then launch back into a day of probably a dozen other cases. In a day or two the USPS delivered a mortgage statement, that was obviously out-of-date I hope, because it was for tens of thousands of dollars. It probably went out before one part of the mortgage servicer had contacted the other part of the mortgage servicer. Looks like I’ll send them yet another cashier’s check to the same address via return receipt, signature required, certified mail. It costs about $7, but it is worth it.

I thank my friends for the celebrations. As a friend mentioned earlier, it is obvious that the ordeal has left me emotionally numbed. Considering the more dire emotional possibilities, numb isn’t very bad, but it is certainly a measure of the struggle. My friends, however, have shouted, danced, high-fived, and celebrated for me. I’ve vicariously enjoyed my proxied exuberance. Yet another thing that friends are good for.

Life is improving slowly; but the changes are few and not very apparent. Money, time, socializing, and emotions are all in flux; but there’s less of the great release that many expect. I’m managing to keep my house, my home, by working seven days a week, taking about one day off every two months. My next vacation: Labor Day. The modified mortgage is calculated to match the income I make from my business. They had no reason to dial it back from that; so, the workload continues. Money is time, at least for most of what I do for my business. Most of my projects pay by the hour. An hour off equals money not made, and work that must be made up eventually. My time sheets have almost recovered from taking off the Fourth of July. Socializing is kicking in, yeah, partly because it is summer, partly because I have good news to share, and partly because I am determined to find time for my friends in my life. My emotions are, as my friend said, numbed; but, people continue to comment on my smile and say that I’m looking more relaxed. I’m so relaxed that I’m now aware of the tension I’ve been carrying where it was such a part of every moment that it was hard to discern before.

Bad news arrives quickly. Good news takes its time. The economic crashes of 2001 and 2008 were abrupt relative to the market’s recovery. The Dow and the S&P 500 have set records, but the NASDAQ has yet to reach its 2000 high. For the people who’ve found work, the recovery may have taken months. For many, years. For too many the recovery has yet to arrive.

As I type, almost a million acres of Washington and Oregon are on fire. The fires came on as quickly as lightning. We’re able to watch it happen over the last couple of days, and within a few days the worst should be over. The worst fires should be over. The recovery will be measured in months and years as people rebuild houses, rearrange lives, and regain a sense of security.

The people affected by Katrina and Sandy continue to recover. Life improves, but not as quickly as it was impacted.

Recovering from a personal financial upset is not instantaneous. Even if I hit the jackpot, so much maintenance was deferred that many things have to be repaired or replaced. I doubt that everything in the house could be fixed in time for winter. The plastic sheeting on the bedroom window will remain, probably be replaced this winter at least once, and hopefully allow for a simple window fix next year. It has a long list above it.

Yet, recovery does happen; and even simple steps are more welcome than they would be otherwise. An expert handyman in town hates watching things go to the dump, so for ~$30/hour he’ll try to fix things. Thanks to him I’ve already regained the use of my electric lawnmower and my convection/microwave oven. These aren’t the sort of events that anyone notices or holds parties for, but taking these first few steps to regaining some sense of sustainability has cheered me more than finding the mortgage notice in the mail.

My financial recovery will take years, especially as I pay down accumulated credit card debt (for the first time in my life.)

My emotional recovery is happening much more quickly, even if I appeared numbed; or maybe especially because I appeared that way. Each day that I wake up and remind myself that I don’t have to fear the mail or the phone is a day when I start with higher hopes. A compounding of that interest of each day is leading to an easier smile, a straighter back, and a few more relaxed muscles.

For the last few years I’ve chronicled what it was like to lose money, identity, and security. Now I get to chronicle the subsequent recovery (and I’ll include a caveat because I don’t take such things for guaranteed or granted.) I look forward to reporting good news.

In the meantime, the world is presenting me with signs of life. Now that I know I get to stay, an amaryllis in my furniture-free bedroom (I sold furniture to pay bills) took a few sips of water. Within a day the last remaining leaf was joined by two new sprouts, eager to grow and hopefully flower. I think I’ll need to get a bigger pot. Life wants to recover and thrive.

The new growth may be hard to see. That's the way recoveries happen.

The new growth may be hard to see. That’s the way recoveries happen.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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