Chapter 10: I Must Scream
Not surprisingly, October shaped up to be a roller coaster ride, much like my entire life. Indeed, take any slice of time—a day, a month, a year—and it would have all of the same contours: hopeful highs punctuated by crashing lows. Although October saw my return to work on the house, even if only in a limited fashion, it was short-lived; work once again halted after I suffered two back-to-back cases of the flu, which triggered a massive Sarcoidosis attack that nearly crippled me.
But most significantly, the commercial property buyers missed the closing in November, and announced they want to delay it another 6-9 months, which would push it into the summer/fall of 2018—over three years from signing the contract. I gave them an ultimatum: either make a cash payment sufficient for me to finish my home, or the contract is cancelled. I'd set the deadline for 31 December, but the holidays wiped out the last three weeks of the year, so there's been no movement.
I'm predicting they'll refuse to accept either option, even though I now have the power to cancel the contract. They've already invested tens of thousands in surveys, permits, engineering plans and such, so cancelling would be a significant loss for them. I'm predicting they'll offer to increase the monthly allowance a bit, just to grease the wheel (see the follow up, below).
But continuing as before won't work, for multiple reasons. My physical health is failing, yet I can't afford medical attention. Life in purgatory has stretched my emotional health to the breaking point. And the temporary roof on my half-built house is inadequate to protect it from the elements much longer; it's now at risk of suffering damage that could require partial reconstruction, which would exceed my remaining budget.
They could have closed on the property immediately after signing the contract—I know, because I did when I originally purchased it. If they were unable to develop it to their satisfaction, they could have resold it, and in the process they might have even been able to make back some or most of what they've invested in it so far. Instead, their choices have put their investment at risk, and have also well and truly ruined my life.
Worse, the weather has created as much of a hardship for me as the property buyers. Last year, the ground never froze; this year, it's already frozen thanks to a record-breaking cold snap that lasted nearly two weeks. So, even if the buyers did cough up a pile of cash, I couldn't do anything substantial until spring.
Some days I just sit and sob.
To quote Harlan Ellison, I have no mouth and I must scream.
The last closing date was set for mid-November of last year. Since that time, the communications that I'm aware of include the following:
That's it. An average of about one message every two weeks. On 16 February, I notified my lawyer that, should he fail to resolve this impasse, I'll be looking for a new lawyer. While this did get his attention—he CC'd me on two more emails he'd sent—it hasn't produced any results. It's now 23 February, and I've begun making some inquiries.
You can follow my progress, such as it may be, in "real time" at Grump Central.
A New Normal
Given the complete lack of progress on any front, I'm forced to accept my current living situation as it is indefinitely. For the last two and a half years, I've harbored the assumption that my circumstances could change at any moment. Instead, I must accept the fact that it's a permanent situation until such time as it actually changes. It's the only way I'll be able to make it through any given day, week or month without going insane.
Once I embrace the fact that my life is the way it is, things may start getting a little easier; I must find ways to make things more comfortable, more natural. If it's to continue this way for another year or more, I must accept that. I must adopt a "new normal." And I must look at my half-finished house as a long-term goal that I might not be able to achieve.
Which means I must also also deal with the possibility I might not be allowed to live here much longer. Although I have electricity, I still have no running water or functional septic system—which, were it not for the agreeable nature of the Township authorities, would be grounds to evict me from my property. I am, in essence, surviving on the kindness of others.
Indeed, I must also very reluctantly extend thanks to the property buyers for agreeing to make monthly payments to keep me alive—they were not legally obligated to do so, although a legitimate hardship case may have be made against them if they hadn't, which would have jeopardized the property sale. In other words, it was in their best interests to help me, especially now that I have the power to cancel the contract and make life quite unpleasant for them; admittedly, a part of me wants to do this as payback for the hell they've put me through, although that would almost certainly backfire.
But accepting my current life as the "new normal" is not necessarily an admission of defeat; I must not lose sight of the fact that finishing my home is my first priority.
Copyright © 2017-2018 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.