Friday, December 12, 2008

Somehow, things always work out

My husband, Herb, and I have often commented on how things have always seemed to work out, despite the fact that we were faced with lack of choice or disappointment at the time change was occurring in our lives. I admit it's hard to feel happy when what you're really feeling is angry, and that anger is directed at specific people you blame for causing the underlying problems. For example, when we were searching for housing for our daughter, Cece, upon her move to Springfield, Massachusetts, to attend law school, I was constantly frustrated at the way that choices seemed to be snatched out of my hands. I was the point person in the housing search that stretched from one trip to Springfield to multiple trips every few weeks.

Cece's partner, Jamie, had a black and white cat named Oreo, who was a bright shining star in her life. Oreo eventually got older and sick, and he died a couple of years ago. Shortly thereafter, Cece and Jamie were driving through a fast food store late on a rainy night, and Jamie spied a tiny black kitten small enough to fit into her hands. The girls took the kitten home, cleaned it up, and nursed it back to health. They took it to the vet, and the vet said the cat was around four weeks old. Jamie named the solid black kitten Sihaya, which they told me means the wind and is a reference from the Ender and Shadow series of science fiction books written by Orson Scott Card. In those books a character named Bean, a diminutive person of great intellect and skills, survived against all odds. Sihaya was named to recognize her survival against all odds on the wintry city streets of the Ohio State University campus area of Columbus.

I remember telling Jamie and Cece at every opportunity, trying hard not to nag, "Don't fall in love with the kitten. Find it a new home." And they tried, but Jamie's aunt and others already had their quota of cats and couldn't take in another. Cece and Jamie also already had their quota, two Devon Rex cats, brother and sister Archie and Q-Tip, who were a year old at the time. The lease on their apartment limited the pet population to two cats. I'm sure you can guess how the rest of the story goes. After two weeks, it became clear that the girls had found Sihaya a home - their home. I worried constantly about their landlord finding out about the third cat and evicting the girls for the lease violation. Luckily, that didn't happen. (I probably worry too much, an occupational hazard of mothers everywhere.)

When we began looking for lodgings in Springfield, it became evident fairly quickly that an apartment rental wasn't going to work out. Springfield is a former manufacturing town, which has been long abandoned by the manufacturers. Cece and I looked at one fabulous complex downtown that had 50 different models of attractive apartments with high red brick walls in the former Smith & Wesson gun and Milton-Bradley game manufacturing facilities. The apartments were well maintained, and the management company was very accommodating. The thing that put me off was the razor wire all around the secured parking lot even though there were entries directly into the apartment buildings. I couldn't picture Cece driving home on snowy streets, when the law library closed at 11:00 PM, through neighborhoods with burnt out, boarded up houses and storefronts to enter a razor-wired parking lot. I should mention that I grew up in inner city Detroit in the '50s and '60s. Somehow, that wasn't what I had envisioned for my daughter.

We then began looking at condos and actually made an offer on one that was accepted. The location was less than two miles from the law school, and the condo association maintained a swimming pool and tennis courts. But our Realtor couldn't get the condo board to agree to give us permission in writing to have three cats. In fact, the seller's Realtor and the condo board asked why we didn't just lie about having three cats, because everyone else did. We ran into the same issue with numerous other condos that we looked at, with suggestions that we should just lie about the three cats, and no one willing to give us permission in writing. Lying might work for straight couples moving into a condo, but for a partnered lesbian couple, all it would take would be one owner to get cross-eyed about gays for the girls to have problems that couldn't be resolved short of having to move out. It was pretty clear to my husband and me that the third cat was now a family member, and we could no more ask the girls to give up a family member than we could do that ourselves. And I sure didn't want Cece to choose not to go to law school over issues around finding housing with a third cat.

The Realtor and I began looking at houses and found a brand new house to buy, which had been built on speculation and was empty for a year, just two miles from the law school. I now call Sihaya the $100,000 cat, because that's how much more the house was than the condo. At the time of the purchase, I was feeling somewhat chagrined at Sihaya and the girls. Now, fast forward to the latter months of 2008 and the subprime mortgage bubble, the failure of multiple large banks and investment houses, the impending implosion of the auto industry and all the ancillary fallout that will follow, and I am glad that we own a house and not a condo. I am thankful I'm not the owner of a condo in an association that may have defaulting owners and folks who can't keep up their condo fees. Whew! Somehow, things have a way of working out, although it may not seem like I got what I wanted at the time. I remind myself that I just have to have patience and wait to see how things turn out.

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