My realtors’ name was Mike B. I’m pretty sure he was Italian; he had an accent like he was from Italy and acted as real estate was his side job. He was young, cool and not afraid. We saw so many amazing houses, it was hard to choose. He also took me to some questionable houses. As I look back, he was very brave to go where he had taken me during those times. I was also brave enough to say no, No Thanks Mike, let’s keep going. Not all the houses made me happy or felt welcoming but some I didn’t want to leave either.
After about two months, he took me to a four-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family home with a small fenced-in backyard on the Cleveland – Garfield Heights border. It was freshly remodeled, new paint and carpet, new furnace, hot water tank I was liking it already. It was enough space that all the kids could have their own bedrooms and I could have the first-floor bedroom that included a bathroom as well. I desperately wanted my children to have
security and to be stable. I was almost there and could see the finish line with my super clean Pumas on. I was the star and this was now my movie. A good movie.
I told Mike that I wanted the house. The kids loved It and so did I. The neighborhood was nice. My neighbors on the left were an African American two-parent family with three kids. My neighbor on the right was an elderly Caucasian woman who would wave to my kids in their bedroom windows while she worked in her garden. Our street was a mix of old and young, working and non-working people. Everyone was happy for the most part, life was good, and I had no complaints. I felt like I had finally arrived. I was 24 years old.
I moved in and in my excitement, forgot to put in an order to have the utilities turned on. Silly me. That did not deter us. The kids and I pretended we were on a three-day camping trip equipped with flashlights, candles and a cooler. We stayed gone during the day and came home close to bedtime, we were in our own home, so it really didn’t matter, we all slept together in the living room on my new carpet. I adjusted to paying more bills and being even more responsible. I now had a mortgage, with the addition of a water/sewer bill and my regular lights, gas, cable, phone, and insurance bills. I got a raise and a new position at my job; I was now a Family Specialist. I quit the other two jobs to get back to being a mom. To balance things out financially, I took on more modeling freelance work, clipped coupons and found every possible free thing to do with the kids in the city. We had to continue to grow, with or without the extra money.
Things were going well I might say. My new house was approximately 6 minutes from Pearl’s house. Her husband Pa was like a grandfather to my kids. I felt safe and knew I could get to her quickly if I needed to. I stayed busy making our house a home. I think I thought I was a home decorator and went all out decking the place out. We went to every museum, park, educational event and age-appropriate activity for children that I could find. I was living my best life and would fight anyone who said differently. This was my dream, and I was on a cloud. I was now 26 years old. I had been in my home for almost two years now and I was ready to make new goals, I felt like I was already achieving so much.
Although I had taken a break from school to work the additional extra jobs, I briefly considered going back to finish my degree. I wanted to complete It, but I was so conflicted. I was going to go back to school to get a degree to get a good job, so I could buy a home. But I had already done that. I had a nice car, nice furniture and appliances, clothes, purses, trinkets and all the trappings of a successful young woman. What was I trying to prove? And to who? In the middle of me having a Steve Harvey moment of clarity, things in the world began to change.