The American Dream Bites the Dust.

My husband and I bought our first home almost ten years ago. We were all of 25, and truthfully, had no business becoming homeowners.

Especially not the owners of this house.

It was 60 years old. It was all of 650 square feet. It had plastic paneling in every single room. The ugliest brown and gold shag carpet you can imagine on the walls in the basement. A smoke stained shrine to the Virgin Mary in the living room. In short, it was a wreck.

But it didn’t matter. Because this house? Was lakefront—or at least close enough.

This was the view that greeted us when we clacked open the tacky plastic vertical blinds in our bedroom every morning:

Once I stepped out on to the deck and saw that lake shining back at me, the house was sold. All that was left was pushing the mortgage through. Luckily, we had (emphasis on the past tense) good credit. Make that fantastic credit. So we got ourselves an FHA loan, cashed in our IRA for the down payment (I told you, we were young and stupid), and signed our lives away.

Over the next four and a half years, that little beach shack caused us a world of pain. The roof leaked. The electrical wiring had to be redone. The shag carpet began to shed. It was one problem after another after another.

But it didn’t matter. Because through it all? I loved that house.

I loved listening to the ducks quack as I drifted off to sleep at night.

I loved the tight feel of my tired muscles after a long, satisfying day of ripping off some god awful paneling or tearing up some wretched carpet.

I loved every minute I spent bringing the neglected gardens back to life.

Above all, I loved the time I spent floating on my back in the middle of the lake, listening to the boats drone past as I watched the clouds drift by on a lazy summer afternoon.

It was my  home. My very first home. And when we finally sold it? I was a little bit devastated.

Still, the family who bought it from us seemed nice. They had big plans. They were going to finish what we started—rip up the rest of the ugly carpet, install french doors and get the rest of the paneling off the walls. They were even going to pay off their truck.

Yes, you heard me right. I said pay off their truck.

Because all those improvements? Were being financed by a ridiculous mortgage. They took out $30,000 over and above the purchase price of our house. Thirty. Thousand. Dollars.

But this was 2005. The housing crisis hadn’t even been thought of yet.

And for a while, everything seemed to be okay. We’d drive by on our trips home and peer out the car windows at “our” house. Nothing ever seemed to be that different (although there was a spiffy truck in the driveway), but nothing looked that bad, either.

Until this weekend.

This weekend when we drove by, this is what we saw.

The gardens were all overgrown. The paint on the deck was worn through and flaking off. The roof? Well, you can see the tarp. The inside was even worse. Our beloved little beach shack was abandoned, unloved and in foreclosure.

And you know what? My heart broke again.

Because that house will always have a special place in my heart. It (and the family who lived in it) deserves better than this.

The people who sold all those awful mortgages? Should be ashamed of themselves.

16 Comments on The American Dream Bites the Dust.

  1. erica
    June 24, 2010 at 2:20 am (6 years ago)

    Your poor old house! It is just a house though :)

    What a great view you had. Aside from the tack, of course!

    Am I the first commenter on your new blog? Whoo!

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 2:25 am (6 years ago)

      You are, indeed. Do you feel special? You should, because you are special.

      Reply
  2. Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)
    June 24, 2010 at 2:25 am (6 years ago)

    That’s so sad. I’ve actually avoided driving by my old homes. I rather not know what happened to them and let them live on in my memory.

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m thinking that’s a good plan. One I’ll have to implement.

      Reply
  3. Lori
    June 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh I am so sorry. Your heart does stay with a house, especially something as special as your first and a lake house at that. I remember our first fixer-upper – that was three houses ago. Memories. :)

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm (6 years ago)

      Both good and bad, those memories are a part of me now.

      Reply
  4. Charlotte
    June 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm (6 years ago)

    I didn’t have a chance to see your blog before you moved it over, but I’m loving this layout you have. Congrats!

    I’m sorry to hear about your old house. My advice is to never down that street again. I’ve never owned a house, but I’ve some good/bad memories associated with old apartments (which can’t even compare because you’ve put so much blood, sweat, and tears into that lake house). In any event, I hope you’ve moved on to bigger and brighter things.

    Thanks for stopping by, I will continue to follow your adventure :)

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks! Our new house is 100000000 times better. All it lacks is the lake. We got out in time!

      Reply
  5. SaucyB
    June 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm (6 years ago)

    It’s called predatory lending and it’s a shame. Although I do also have to place responsibility with the owners your house for obviously getting In way over their heads.
    I can totally understand why you’d be upset to see something you’d put do much heart and soul into deteriorate. I say, keep looking ahead, never back. :)

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm (6 years ago)

      That, my friend, is a good motto indeed! And yeah, we thought they were crazy at the time. We just didn’t know how crazy.

      Reply
  6. one cluttered brain
    June 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm (6 years ago)

    Aww.That is sad. Passing by old homes is always bittersweet.
    Sometimes the best of goals and wishes go by the wayside in tough times.

    I want to see the view out of your house now!
    I absolutely LOVE your new place! (website)
    Can’t wait until I can afford to make the switch to WP!
    Save me a spot for Cluttered Brain, K? :)

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m just glad we got out when we did. It’s worth $100,000 less now than it was when we bought it.

      And consider your spot reserved!

      Reply
  7. Nancy
    June 24, 2010 at 5:39 pm (6 years ago)

    Awww, that is so sad! I sometimes drive by my aunt’s old house, which is the one my mother lived in until she was married. It’s been sold four times since my aunt passed in 1991 but the owners have all kept it up very nice, and even made improvements. The house my dad grew up in is a different story. It used to be in a predominantly Polish neighborhood in Detroit which is now just run down. Half the homes on the street are gone or abandoned, and the ones left standing are severely neglected, including my dad’s. My grandfather built all the cabinets in the kitchen; I’ve never seen them but I sometimes wonder if they’re still there. It makes me sad to think about it.

    Reply
    • Amber
      June 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm (6 years ago)

      Maybe someday it’ll go on the market and you can buy it for $1,000 or something. I’ve heard of that happening in Detroit. Poor, poor Detroit.

      Reply
  8. Melissa
    June 24, 2010 at 6:55 pm (6 years ago)

    I “kind of” know how you feel. When my husband’s mom sold her house, where he grew up and we spent all of our dating years together in I was kind of sad too. Every time we drive by and I see that her beautiful garden now has a plastic goose in it, a little bit inside me cringes. But it’s just a house, and our memories don’t include plastic ducks, so now we just don’t drive by it anymore!

    Reply
  9. Melissa (Dr. Mom)
    June 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Awww…that is sad. But, you’ll always have the great memories there. Here’s hoping your special house gets some TLC and another family will be able to enjoy it :)

    Reply

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