Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Cat in the Ceiling

A friend is looking to buy a house. I went with her and the real estate agent to see a few today. In one, which had been foreclosed upon while the residents were remodeling, there was a hole in the bathroom ceiling over the tub. I thought I saw insulation sticking out of the gap but the sunlight through the window showed it to be a cat's paw. On entering the house I'd noticed it smelled like cat urine and mice, but now I assessed the strength of the scent to be simply dead cat.

I called, "Here kitty kitty...?" but the paw didn't flinch. I thought to reach up and touch it but the thought of the feel of it, dusty and still, stopped me. The agent and my friend had left the room by now. I decided to choose to think of it as a long petrified cat corpse and moved on. The agent would tell the selling agent and procedures would take place.

We visited the back bedroom where the ceiling was falling in, spotted black with mold, and the back yard where an addition to the house had been started and now the skeleton of it, soaked by rain and dried in the sun, had begun to split, splinter and peel.

As we left the house I stopped by the bathroom again to see if the cat was still there.

The kitty was gone. Long live the cat!

Here we had an abandoned house, an abandoned dream, plans for the remodel taped to the living room wall "do not remove" stamped legal and permitted but now expired. The people who had been living here couldn't afford to keep the house, so the bank took possession of their asset which now rots among a glut of houses facing similar fates.

But, if, when foreclosure threatened, the bank had refinanced the house based on the constraints of the current economy and let the residents keep it at the reduced (i.e., "market") price, the owners would likely have been able to make the payments and the house would be a home to more than the mice and the cat and the fungus.

Does that simply make too much sense?

Here kitty kitty...?

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