By Lee Sullivan
Random Writers Week 3: Write about a closed door that led to an open door.
Gil and I spent the majority of 2009 trying to buy a house. It was a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions that often left us beat down inside. On October 8, 2009, Gil blogged about our journey and two family’s lives would never be the same again. I will ask that you take five minutes and read it so that you understand what we went through and how we got to where we are now.
Go ahead…I’ll wait,
Did you hear that door closing on our dream? It didn’t just close, it was slammed in our faces.
Now, travel back in time with me to the evening Gil posted that blog. Gil was still reeling from the anger he felt towards SunTrust Bank and I was still wiping away tears that wouldn’t stop flowing. As he mentioned in his blog, we both agreed the best thing to do would be to wait until 2010 and start anew. That would give us (me) some time to heal from the shattering heart break this whole experience had dealt us. As we sat there talking about our plan for the future, I made a statement that we kind of laughed off since we both knew it was a dream outside our scope of reality.
Through my drying tears, and in an effort to lighten the heavy mood, I had jokingly said, “Besides, I think we should just wait until we can afford to buy Andy and Melissa’s (A&M) house.”
It was a comment made in jest and we both knew that that the home owned by our friends was just too expensive for us. We laughed about how awesome that would be, but seeing how it was terribly outside our budget, we brushed the idea aside and forgot about it.
We forgot about it for 12 hours.
It was exactly 12 hours later that my phone rang and our lives were shaken to the core, in only a way that God can shake you.
Here’s how the conversation went:
“Hey, it’s Melissa. I read Gil’s blog last night. I’m so sorry.”
“Thanks. It sucks but we’ll figure something out.”
“I wanted to call to ask you what it would take to get you guys in our house?”
This is the point when I had to pick myself up off the floor of my office.
“Ummm, move out.” I sarcastically responded.
I knew there was no way we could afford to buy their house.
“I’m serious,” she said.
They wanted out.
A&M had been trying to sell their house for a couple of years, but were unsuccessful due to the housing market crash and an absentee real estate agent. They both hated their commute so they were trying to sell in order to move closer to their jobs. Also, they had a longer term plan of moving back to the Carolinas, which they considered ‘home’. Melissa and I had hours of conversations each time a potential buyer came by to see it and their disappointment when nothing ever came of it. We talked about how much they had done to make it more appealing to a potential buyer. Weeks and months went by without so much as a nibble. They finally gave up and took it off the market, resolved to just stay put until the market leveled out.
We wanted in.
I had dreamed of living in that house since my first visit in 2004. I can’t explain why I loved A&M’s home so much but I did. It has an unusual floor plan that makes it appear deceivingly larger than the square footage number indicates. It has a nice pool and lanai and beautiful landscaping in the front. There are enough bedrooms and bathrooms that we can all spread out when we need to or we can come together in one of several common living areas. It’s in a great location that is central to the North Tampa/Wesley Chapel area and is only minutes from the kids’ mom’s home and work. Gil loved the house, too. We had several conversations over the years about how much we would love to live there and when it was put on the market, I think we both spent a little time in our personal dream worlds imagining what it would be like to live there.
Melissa and I continued our conversation and formulated a plan. As I hung up the phone, I hit the floor. I literally, right here in my office for anyone to see, hit my knees in a state of thankful prayer unlike any I had uttered before. I was so overcome by emotion and filled with so much of God’s love and grace that I could barely dial the phone to call Gil and tell him what God had just done. As I tried to get myself together and explain it, he began to feel all of the same emotions that I felt. In that moment, we shared the awesomeness of God.
A few days later we all met over dinner and drinks. In the next 4 weeks, A&M had leased a new apartment downtown, moved into it, and Gil and I had moved into our dream home. We don’t own it outright just yet, but for now we are all more than happy with our lease-to-purchase agreement.
A&M have since moved from their downtown Tampa apartment to her family home in South Carolina. I often wonder if Gil and I went through what we did so that my friend Melissa could make her dream to move ‘home’ a reality. I wonder if our door closing was her door opening. Either way, we both saw an opening and we stepped through it to realize our dreams.