Sunday, August 3, 2014
Apologies, mes chers, that things have been a little quiet here of late. We've been on the go.
And the thing is, we haven't even gone yet. But we have the keys!
Buying a home in these United States is an extremely curious experience. You lay out whatever cash you have, and a series of professionals - some of whom you will never meet - spend several weeks finding ways to spend it. They come up with all sorts of inventive fees and charges, which altogether are known enigmatically as "closing," and just when you think it will never end, they decide they've had enough and summon you. You go to a small almost unnervingly featureless office in a strip mall, where you sign approximately as many papers as were required to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire. Something on the order of half of them are described by the pleasant gentleman in a suit whose role is never fully explained to you (and never will be as long as you live) as being "confirmations that you understood the form you just signed," which since that was a fantasy at best, means that one is probably is not only out all one's liquid assets, but guilty of some civil, real-estate-related form of perjury on top of it all.
By contrast, the last time we bought an apartment (not, mind you, something we do with startling regularity), Mr. Muscato went to an office in Cairo with a backpack full of cash, handed it over, and signed a grand total of one piece of paper. That, taken to a ministry and stamped (everything in Egypt has to have a stamp), was it. Given the country's almost fetishistic obsession with bureaucracy, it makes the contrast with our experience last week all the greater.
At length, however, our long nightmare of initialing and signing was over, and our cheery broker Fiona handed over the keys. I hear that some such occasions in these parts are accompanied by Champagne toasts and even gift baskets. If that's in fact he case, as the saying goes, we wuz robbed, although I did pocket a couple of extra Hershey's kisses from the bowl near the door on our way out. Whatever the case, and despite the lack of any special formalities, like it or not, we are, again, homeowners.
And now the real madness begins.
I've taken to dropping by the new place with the dogs, just so they know what's in store. I've also taken to staring into the closets and cupboards, wishing desperately I'd actually followed upon last fall's resolution to be brave, go through it all, and throw things away. In a week or so we'll spend something like three days in total chaos, with decreasing doses of chaos for the next several weeks.
In the meantime, I'll try to check in now and then, but we'll see. Those cupboards won't be stared into on their own, after all...