I have come to the conclusion that being an outsider sucks. I sit here, never really knowing what's going on around me, never being in anyone's "loop" and pretending like I either am, or don't want to be. Yeah, I know, it's my JOB to be outside. But human nature isn't solitary. We crave company. Not every second of the day, but every now and then one comes up against the harsh realization that they've been left out...and it's not just this once, either.
Yesterday we got a check from a settlement that was made on our behalf...and the behalf of millions of other people who had been defrauded by a major bank when they wrote our mortgages (koffkoffWachoviakoffkoff). I should be happy, it's enough to get that new curling iron with the hi-lo switch I've been wanting. Seriously, it's about .000001 of the amount they screwed us out of and that doesn't even count the damage they did to us emotionally. But I took the check because, I felt, it vindicated us. Because all those sons of bitches who told us everything was OUR fault because we were greedy asshats who knowingly took on a fraudulent loan in order to live in a house we weren't entitled to can go screw themselves because LOOK! I have a LEGAL ORDER that says I WAS A VICTIM OF FRAUD.
The check we got was on a national level, the bank was in error and was ordered to make restitution to us, and millions of others as well. There's also a State settlement which finds in our favor as well, that check, we're promised, will be a bit bigger, which means I might be able to upgrade to a flatiron AND get a haircut. Same thing. Vindication! The people who insulted and demeaned us, the relatives, the so-called friends and the millions of strangers, some of them in Congress, well...take THAT. YOU DEREGULATED THE MORTGAGE BANKS, not ME and I got screwed. So THERE!
But you know what? The triumph I should feel isn't there. The judgement and the new curling iron leave me emptier then I was before. Did I win? Sure. I can now insist that my abysmal credit report be altered to reflect that the foreclosure was deemed illegal and unwarranted and I have the papers to prove it. I actually thought it would help. Nope. Made it worse.
I understand some people actually got their homes back...because the bank couldn't sell them. The new owners of mine were waiting in the driveway as we left, a tribute, I suppose, to my good taste in dilapidated English Tudors. I'm not sure I would want to move in again, although the thought of going back into my house with NOTHING in the attic or garage or laundry room is enticing...there was a LOT of baggage left there, literally and figuratively. The house was my mother's, I had never really LOVED it but after many, many years of struggling (serves me right for marrying an artist) I had a house of my own. And THAT'S what they can't give back to me.
They took my back door. My own washer and dryer. My lawn and my windows. They took my sunny little breakfast room and my hallway and my linen closet. They took the big wood door with the rounded top that I could lock and keep people out with. They took the holiday meals and the marks on the wall that showed how tall my kids were. They took my garage and my piano and, on a day like today, I keenly miss my central air. They took my pretty little bathroom with the Mickey Mouse sink and they took my dining room that I could put eight people in.
They took away my autumn days planting yellow and gold asters in the little flower bed by the front door. They took the brilliant line of red roses in the summer. They took the sound of rain on my rooftop. They took my grill and my fireplace and my dog. They took the Christmas tree in the front window. They took my driveway.
They took my self-esteem and my sense of security. I find myself increasingly unable to make a decision, never sure it's the right one, the smallest thing suddenly signals to me that I've done something wrong. Again.
My head knows that this wasn't entirely my fault and it also knows that I could have done things differently and, perhaps, a different outcome would have resulted. I thought what I did was right and I thought what I did would work out. But now I sit here, with a check that probably cost more to issue and mail than it's worth and a moral victory of sorts. It won't change the minds of the people who said the mortgage banking meltdown was MY fault because I was a selfish pig who didn't deserve what I had or the people who said we should have been able to predict the hubster's company folding and throwing him out of work and not tried to raise the kids in a two bedroom house in a decent school district because people like us weren't entitled to a life like that.
My head knows that, if the President of the United States put me on the dais with him and announced that "This woman and her family were defrauded, lied to, were victims of forged documents and stolen mortgage payments and we want you to know this. We're giving her her house back and all her belongings and we're putting $100 million in her 401K" they would still think it was my fault. My head knows that yes, eventually I'll recover and my sons will flourish and I won't starve, which is more than many people who had the same thing happen to them can say. My head knows that I survived and my head knows that I won.
My head knows that the people who made my life richer -- and then walked away from me -- weren't worth being in my life anyway. They were fakers and phonies and they tricked me into believing they wanted me in their lives as well. My head knows that I'm better off now.
Now...if my heart would get on board, I'd be all set.