I bought a house today.
The main house, which will be Joy’s House, an upscale sober house for women;
And a 1/1 cottage that my girlfriend & I have been renting for the last year.
But, it’s never easy.
My Dad agreed to help me by co-signing a loan for me (for some reason, being in addiction has a way of totally screwing up your credit), but the bank loan didn’t work (ummm… see screwed up credit comment above).
So he took out an equity loan on his own house;
Which still has me in a bit of a daze, truth be told.
2 ½ years ago my Dad wouldn’t take my phone calls, except to make sure I wasn’t in jail or a hospital; then he hung up. He’d had enough;
Enough, “enough” that he fired me from my job at his club.
After a decline from manager, to bartender, to floor man, to doorman, to…
Even when I first got sober, he still didn’t believe;
He’d heard this song before. But now,
Now he has the first issue of It’s all in the JOURNEY magazine hanging on a wall in his office,
And now he calls me,
Sometimes wanting me to say hello to family friends that I kinda remember, but who always say the same thing when they get on the phone;
“Charles! Your Dad told me about the magazine & how good you’re doing, glad to hear it!”
It makes me so incredibly proud,
That he’s proud.
When the bank wouldn’t give him the loan with my name on it and he said ‘we’ll figure something out’
I didn’t expect this.
We signed/notarized the papers on Thursday, and Fed Ex picked them up from my house that night;
The bank taking so much time,
Had eaten into the time we had on the buyer’s contract we had on the house.
It expired on Monday.
Friday morning he transferred the money, and the title attorney said everything should be finished by the end of the day – plenty of time.
Both to beat the deadline for the contract,
And to beat Hurricane Ike; which was heading our way & expected to arrive on Tuesday;
Once a hurricane gets within a certain distance, home sales are suspended.
But the attorney had received the wire transfer and Fed Ex was expected by it’s 10:30 am promise.
As I was driving to my new home I turned on the radio,
The announcer was reading the new updates on Hurricane Ike;
A hurricane that had the makings of being a real mother.
It was now a category 3, expecting to become a category 4 (5 is the highest), and still heading straight towards South Florida.
“Now is the time to stock up on bottled water & canned food.” He said,
“And make sure you have all your insurance papers in a waterproof container.”
I started thinking of what I’d have to buy, and where I should keep the insurance papers – my home or my office, when a really weird feeling started in the pit of my stomach as I suddenly realized;
We bought the house without a mortgage, and thus no bank, so –
It didn’t come with insurance!
I just bought a house for $280,000,
And I didn’t have insurance,
And a category 4 hurricane was coming!
I quickly called my old insurance agent for the house I had before selling it to go into treatment.
Glenda said she could get my house insured as long as we were outside of ‘The Cone’
The ‘cone’ is an area created by computers that estimate where a hurricane will travel.
With the tightest, more clearly defined direction, being close to the storm ( < )
And the widest area being the furthest away from the storm ( > );
It does look like a ice cream cone, but it’s really just a guesstamate:
Hurricanes like to dance as they move, and you can’t tell where they’ll end up.
Glenda needed the paperwork from the title agent,
The ones Fed Ex had picked up last night.
I called the title attorney who I’d sent them to;
She hadn’t gotten them yet.
She got on her computer to track the envelope and soon came back on the phone,
“It’s in the truck en route. It should be here soon.” She’d call me as soon as it arrived.
I called Glenda back and explained that they had the money; we just had to wait on the paperwork to get there.
“As long as she can fax it today. By Monday, we’ll be in the cone and I won’t be able to write you a policy. But I’ll start the paperwork now.”
As I hung up, telling myself that it would be fine, my phone rang.
It was my printer.
The new issue of It’s all in the JOURNEY’s proofs were ready.
I had to go get them.
Proofs are the last chance to change any typos or colors in a magazine before the actual print run,
And we were scheduled to print on Monday,
Barring a visit by Hurricane Ike.
But it’s never easy.
The printer is out west.
To the edge of the Everglades,
I called the title attorney back, and then Glenda,
Telling both where I was going &that I would be done an hour or two, at the most.
“Call me or e-mail me with any news.” (I love my little Blackberry Pearl)
I drove west on I-595, glancing at the spot where I’d found Lei Lu, the 3 legged dog (that’s another story), and reached the printers in about 45 minutes.
Rik (That’s how he spells it – don’t ask), my liaison with the printer,
Who coordinates quotes, print time, bundling, mailing permits, etc..
Was not there; he’d had an emergency with another client.
So I saw Richard, the president & owner; a very cool guy (How many magazines have their printer buy a ¼ page ad just to congratulate you on your one year anniversary issue?).
He went and got the proofs for me.
They were beautiful. Seriously, when issue 9 comes out, look at that cover;
Little girls in a lake around a rock, having a tea party; perfectly normal little girls.
And under the water they are mermaids!
Plus a manatee with his cup of tea talking to a little girl/mermaid swimming with him.
The most beautiful one yet.
Which is probably why I didn’t hear him correctly when I asked him if we were going to print it on Saturday.
When I realized that he was still looking at me, not the cover,
I turned and asked, “What?”
He replied, “I said do you want the good news or the bad news?”
He had my full attention now.
“The big printer is down & won’t be fixed until Monday.” He told me.
“What’s the good news?” I asked.
“That was the good news, Charlie. The bad news is I just checked & we don’t have enough of your paper in stock – it won’t be in until Wednesday.” He paused here,
“Unless Hurricane Ike comes, then it’ll be Thursday or Friday.”
It’s never easy.
I wanted to ask him how they could be out of my paper weight (paper comes in weight – ours is 80lb. gloss text), but I had to get back to Miami so I could pay/sign for the new house’s insurance when the paperwork arrived.
So I sighed, took the proofs, glanced the cover again (now wistfully; I wanted everyone to see this cover!), got back into my one-eyed Hyundai, and headed east (I didn’t even think of Lei Lu when I passed that spot).
On the way I called the title agent; she’d gotten the papers and had faxed them to Glenda.
“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked…a little loudly.
As I said, I love my Blackberry, but I hate the reception my phone service – T-Mobil – has. It never works inside the huge printing building.
I quickly called Glenda, my old/now new again insurance agent. “I’ve got them. All you have to do is come in and sign them & you’re good.”
I told her I was on my way.
A quick observation: a Hyundai will never be mistaken for a corvette.
But as I drove, I smiled.
I was a home owner again!
And Joy’s House was really going to happen! (I’d wanted to open this house in my daughter’s memory since I got out of treatment,
And the real estate agent they hooked me up with to find a new house (I had sold mine to go into rehab), owned a sober house for women;
That turned out to be the very same house my wife and I rented 20 years earlier – when I ran the strip club on Miami Beach & we had strippers paying us to live there while they worked for me.
(Thank about that – out of all the houses & all the realtors in Miami – my realtor bought my old house & turned it into a sober home for women. So this house went from a house where women used to drink & get high just to go to work, to a house where women worked just to not drink or get high! How cool is that?).
When I got to the Glenda’s office (By the way, she owns/operates Insurance Industries – if you need insurance; she’ll work magic for you!), she was waiting.
“Were you nervous, Charlie?” She asked sweetly.
“Not at all.” I answered just as sweet. And meant it; I was a home owner!
We finished signing the paperwork and that was that – Joy’s House was safe.
As I was leaving, Glenda said,
“Tell John Henry to tell his Mom hi for me.” (Glenda also provided Mother Henry’s Mother’s insurance – that was mouthful!)!
I told her I would.
Back in the car I looked at the papers, then put them on top of the magazine proofs. I was going home to go over both.
In my new house.
My house is located near the detox center I worked at, and JOURNEY was created in.
It is also the detox center I’d gone through 6 times in 8 years before sobriety.
As I passed it, I saw that Ronnie’s truck was there & I decided to stop by and say hello,
And announce the news that Joy’s House was really going to happen.
Ronnie and his family own the detox center.
He used to come there at night, when I was working, and is one of the nicest guys I have ever known.
He spent so many hours with me in the client’s kitchen going over the idea of a recovery magazine;
Offering ideas, advice & support.
He, also, read my stories after I wrote them and always told me, “Don’t ever stop writing Charlie, you’ve got a gift.”
We alcoholics & addicts are the most egotistical,
Creatures there are.
His words were a balm against the still open wounds my addiction had caused in myself.
I went to the door, was buzzed in, and went back into Ronnie’s office.
When I got there I gave him the new cover proof to see,
He said it might be the most beautiful one yet.
Then I told him about buying the house & Joy’s House coming to fruitation.
“Where’s it at?” He asked while still gazing at the cover proof.
I told him it was right near here; maybe he’d be sending me girls when they left here if they did not want to go into treatment, and then I told him the address.
He stopped looking at the cover,
And looked straight at me.
“Say it again.” He asked me with a funny look.
“Charlie – I used to own that house!”
“My brother Danny & I bought it, fixed it up and sold it! We did a lot of work on it – almost everything in the main house is new!”
Now Ronnie & his brother had bought/fixed up/sold a lot of houses;
They could show the TV show ‘Flip that House’ how to do it right,
So we looked up the records in all the paperwork I’d been given, and sure enough’
Danny & Ronnie had sold the house to Garrin – the guy I was buying it from!
Garrin had it for a couple of years before falling behind on his payments,
Which allowed me to buy it in a short sale (pre foreclosure) at a big discount.
We talked about coincidences & God shots – and Judi – my old realtor, who’d bought my first house and made it a sober house for women.
“You’ve always been so helpful and supportive, Ronnie, and now look:
You bought & fixed up the perfect house for a sober house, with lots of land & a separate cottage for Lynda & I to live in so we can keep an eye on it and there’s no 2nd rent/mortgage to pay (It was one of the main reasons I wanted this house), and ended up selling it to someone who ended up selling it to me!
Now I know that Joy’s House is in good, sound conditio!
And I believe Garrin was supposed to take care of it until I was able, or ready, to get it.
“How about that, Ronnie? You’re part of Joy’s House!”
“You’re a God shot!”
“Made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.” He said,
I can’t wait to see what God has in mind for me & my new house.