Single In The Suburbs, Installment 138

Sara, desperately trying to break her damsel-in-distress relationship patterns, is unenthusiastic about Ethan’s invitation to move in. Can she get back on her feet financially — alone?

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, Sara had begun brainstorming ways to renovate her basement into a revenue-generating apartment to tide her over financially after being laid off. However, Ethan’s offer to do the work — and subsequent invitation for Sara to move in with him — has set off her damsel-in-distress warning bells.

Thursday, 11:40 a.m.
The bad news is that the cute Tom Cruise-y looking guy from HGTV’s Income Property will not be coming to the Midwest to help me renovate my basement. I called his office and I’m out of luck. I know in my gut, in my bones, in my very cells that this is the right move. If I can figure out a way to turn that basement into an apartment, I can rent it for more than half of my monthly mortgage payment.
Unemployment will carry me until I get a new job.
Unemployment will carry me until I get a new job; if I still haven’t found a job by the time unemployment runs out, I can always cash in my retirement savings. Obviously I’d like to avoid that, but I’m no longer so terrified by the prospect as I used to be. I’m going to be fine. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.

Thursday, 1 p.m.
I’m on the phone with the credit union talking to Sandy, the same woman I’ve worked with on every loan I’ve ever applied for — with and without Craig — since I moved here. That’s three mortgages, four car loans, two motorcycle loans and a home equity line of credit. For this reason, I am fond of her. I don’t even know if Sandy has kids and yet, I feel intimately connected to her. And because she’s with the local credit union and not some behemoth bank, I feel hopeful about getting approved.

Sandy agrees to fast-track my application and says she’ll send out an appraiser this afternoon. Ack! The house is a heinous mess. Sandy assures me that the appraiser doesn’t care about cleanliness. “No worries,” she says. “Your house may not be the biggest on the block, but your block is in the most coveted neighborhood in town. Seems like everybody wants to live downtown these days, especially with the new elementary school and park. You made a great choice in moving there. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Now I’m excited.

Thursday, 3 p.m.
Even though Sandy told me not to worry about the mess, I am frantically trying to get the place straightened up before the appraiser arrives. I’m stuffing my dirty clothes into the closet when the doorbell rings. She’s here!

“Beautiful home,” she says, surveying the living room. She hands me a business card. “Have you made any improvements?”

“Other than a few repairs, um, not really. Except painting. Oh, the stone path outside is new. And new insulation. Does that count?”

“Sure,” she says, smiling and moving on to the dining room. She hands me a business card that
I love this house, Jamie. I don’t want to lose it.
reads: Jamie Cale, President, Cale Home Appraisals, Inc.

I feel compelled to apologize for the mess and kick a half-chewed rawhide dog treat out of her way. She doesn’t seem to notice. “Your house is a little gem,” Jamie says.

“How do you like my fireplace?” I say, pointing to my lovely canned alcohol in a metal box.

“I’ve got one of those, too!” exclaims Jamie, laughing. “I still haven’t decided if it’s cool or just sad.”

“Oh, God, me too!” I say, laughing… and then realize that I’m suddenly tearing up. Not crying, just a little leaky — and mostly it’s just my eyes welling up. “I love this house, Jamie. I don’t want to lose it.”

“Aw, honey. I have a feeling things are going to work out just great for you,” says Jamie, reassuringly.

At this point I’d like to say that I turned around and she was gone, like an angel sent from God above to bring me a message of hope. In fact, when I turned around Jamie was slipping on something one the cats must have spit up on the kitchen floor. She caught herself and adjusted her eyeglasses. Sensing both of us were embarrassed, Jamie just looked at me and laughed. “Occupational hazard.”

The doorbell rings yet again. Who could be here in the middle of the day? If it’s one of those overbearing kids trying to pressure me into buying magazine subscriptions or anyone trying to convert me to some religion, for once in my life I’m going to tell whoever it is to leave me the hell alone.

“Who is it?” I call out.

“Special delivery for Sara Susannah Katz,” I hear a guy say. I open the door and I am completely unprepared for what happens next.

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! Our writer, Sara, will be winding down her column with the final installment scheduled to appear in October 2010. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 139

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