"When the world places a box around your life, nothing is stopping you from seeing how far out you can push those walls."
- Tracy Schofield
You may have noticed that life never sends us stressful events in a nicely spaced stream, but instead delivers them in tightly wrapped clumps in close proximity to each other. So it should not be surprising to anyone that, exactly a week after my surgery, we are closing on the purchase of our home today.
It is not exactly a new house - in fact, it was built in 1959.
We are not having to move into the house - we've been renting it for 4 years now.
It is not a big house - it is actually smaller than some apartments I have lived in, coming in at 1,100 square feet.
Nonetheless, in about 6 hours, it will be our house. Which is yet another surprising turn of events in what has been a year full of them.
It is a problem that many people never give a moment's thought to, but the truth is this: disabled people don't get to buy homes. Anyone living on federal disability makes so little in a given month that no mortgage lender will touch them with a ten-foot pole. The "standard" mortgage wants your payment, taxes, and interest to total up to an amount less than or equal to 35% of your monthly income. In our case that would work out to...(pulling out calculator)...$490 a month.
Even in the current era of low interest rates, I don't know too many people who have a house payment this low. And, of course, the lowest of interest rates are reserved for those with the best credit. And if there is one thing that the years of waiting for federal disability to come through does, it is this - it wrecks credit scores. I am 8 years out from finally being approved (after 4 years of waiting, mind you), and my credit score has still not recovered.
So, like 99% of all disabled folks in this country, I rent. (Paying 67% of my total income on rent, mind you.) The only way I could have ever expected to be a homeowner again would be to inherit a home, which is frankly too depressing to contemplate - I want my parents and my in-laws to live forever.
However, fate, consistent rent payments, and unusually generous landlords who are willing to become a lending institution has suddenly placed us in the position to purchase our own home, for the first time since 2001.
Buying a home has always been one of those "landmarks" in life - you grow up, you graduate, you get married, you buy a house. In 2004, with the arrival of my epilepsy, I was suddenly shunted all the way back down the ladder in one precarious stumble - at 33 I was a home owner, then at 34 I was suddenly living in my parent's home and having my diapers changed again. (Literally.) Just getting back to living outside my parent's home with a wife who inexplicably loves me was, frankly, further than I thought I would ever get in life after I became disabled.
Yet, today, I am re-achieving another one of those "milestones".
If you had told me in August of 2015 that today I would be a writer, down to 245 pounds, and on my way to close on a house in a few hours, I would have asked for some of whatever you were smoking.
My nerves are so shot right now, I could use some of whatever it was you were smoking.
On My Way To The Land Of Home-Ownership,