Picture this…I am an unassuming housewife and middle aged college student, sitting in a movie theater in the Rhondda Valley of Wales in the UK. It is May 1, 2012 and I am seeing The Avengers, a movie I have avidly waited to see for years. I am wearing a vibrant lovely scarf purchased from il mercato in Florence, Italy, 4 weeks before. I bought it speaking only in Italian and with two handsome men escorting me. The crazy purple gypsy skirt dangling to the floor was bought before I left home on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, California, about 7 weeks ago and it has gotten very rumpled from being worn every other day for 6 weeks. The classy jacket I am wearing while watching Thor’s hunky smile, is from a “charity shop” (used clothes) where I could afford to beef up the warm clothes section of my meager wardrobe….well, really it is a suitcase. I am living in a suitcase right now.
You see when I left sunny Italy 3 weeks ago I found myself in a very wet rainy season, even for Wales, which normally has lots of rain! I already had developed the naggy cough I have sported the whole time I have been in the Land of My Fathers. I feel successful and good about who I am and my place in the world. I can’t recall feeling so alive as I have for the last month and a half.
As I marveled at the Marvel characters on the Big Screen, my mind remembered something about this day…why was I feeling like Mayday and Ironman were more important then I was grasping at the moment? There was something about Mayday. As its importance dawned on me I felt an incredible moment of self dread and deep inner fear. The kind one gets when one loses their home.
I suddenly had the sensation of being swallowed up into a past Mayday, 2008. I had really been in a state of shock. I had tried everything to prevent this misfortune and really did not believe it was going to happen. Just like everyone else who had been in the same boat before me. Even though now I am considered the front end of the home foreclosure curve in the US, I was not really at the beginning. Really I was at the beginning as well but then I was training to be a foreclosure specialist through a program that was going to teach me to be a millionaire. I watched the mortgage crisis develop and grow from the ground floor but then they called it other things…and all the people involved in losing their homes then were viewed as losers who apparently could not read or follow a contract very well. I never did feel comfortable with that analysis and that worked out for me when I found myself in foreclosure in 2008.
I tried everything to save my house. The banks involved however had not followed the rules as written out for my state. They also were scrambling and panicking. At one point I sent a hefty check to an Alaska Bank that had absolutely nothing to do with the latest mortgage company to buy my loan as per the instructions they gave me. They rejected all my connections who tried to buy my home insisting on all cash offers only, and raising the price with each try.
On Mayday, 2008, I put on my heels and dressed up as professionally as possible to attend my home’s auction. I hugged my 7 year old and left him with his older siblings as I got in the car to go down to the county center. My parent’s drove me. The car’s mood was a mixture of mortification and horrified distress.
There were people going in and out of the courthouse in our small community but no one stopped to bid on any of the houses. Even my parents dropped back as we got close to the auctioneer. I strolled up close to him anyway, head held high, my heart beating in my chest.
He looked at me sheepishly and said that he would go to the house I was interested in bidding on to start. It was obvious this man was unaccustomed to being around well dressed, slightly angry women in sharp heels, and he was not used to having anyone show up for these auctions. I am positive he thought I was bidding not losing.
It is a comfort to know you do not appear to be a loser even at your own personal low point financially.
Five days later on my birthday, I woke to a 15 foot tall version of Ironman in my cavernous multi-story glass front room. Ironman became a symbol of how things move on and get better, even if you feel like wallowing for a bit. My son made sure that I had Ironman packed in my moving van when I left my home for college a few months later.
The line between success and defeat is sometimes blurred when you consider how often one can create the other. I feel strongly that my defeat on Mayday, 2008, created my unthinkable success on Mayday, 2012. One could not have happened without the other, I am sure of it.