Biographical Non-Fiction posted December 13, 2014 Chapters:  ...34 35 -36- 37... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
a feeling you don't know you have until it's gone...

A chapter in the book My Almost Cashmere Life


by maggieadams

Hope. It's a funny thing, different from all the rest. It's not like love or fear or hate. It is a feeling you don't really know you have until it's gone...

There I sat, staring at my computer screen in my x-large plaid pajamas, half-drunk on a bottle of $3.99 Pinot Grigio.  Eight months into the divorce process, while I was learning on the job, I found myself running out of hope. Wave after wave of nausea washed over me.

The credit report staring back at me did not lie.

I was back in the all-purpose room---a room with sponge-painted, tie-dyed walls and a turquoise cement floor---this room was a reminder of the many phases and stages of my life. It had been the room where all the memory books were stored. The dogs had slept on the smelly couch pushed-up against the psychedelic wall.  At one time, it had been the sewing room where I made my own clothes; the machine was still stashed in the corner, gathering cobwebs. It had been the nursery for Paxton and her night nurse; the respiratory machine still lingered on the counter. It had been the toy room where my girls had played house. The room had finally become 'Divorce Central' with stacks of legal documents and unpaid bills. It had been the computer room where all my emails going back and forth with my lawyer were stored.

But that night, seven years ago, everything changed. The room where everything was possible became the place where I lost all hope.

Early in the divorce, when gathering financial information about our assets, I learned the ugly truth, albeit not all. Alan had taken me off the deed and was the sole owner. During the process, he had agreed to quick-deed the house back to me, and if I sold it, I would receive all the profit, but I refused. Against my lawyer's advice, I wouldn't take the deed back, but I wasn't selling either. I was staying put.

The only route out of my house---my home for thirty years---would be a body bag. It remained the last link to the self I had once been. My house reflected my life---haphazard, chaotic and broken, but it was also charming, eclectic and authentic.

I had loved that house from the moment I walked into the entry and stepped onto the hardwoods. Straight in front of me, framed by two huge windows, stood Mt. Hood. Every morning I found solace in the orange and pink sunrise climbing over the snow-capped mountain. At night, through those picture windows, I would glimpse the waxing and waning of the moon. Ever so often, those big windows would produce a masterpiece---a full harvest moon.

Although figuring out how to hold on to my beloved house was a constant worry, the idea of selling it was unthinkable.  No one, except my girls and me, could understand why I was hanging onto a 1947 run-down ranch house that needed major repairs and was probably best as a tear-down.

I had taken on all the responsibility to save myself; no one else was going to save me. I had accepted that I was not going to live a linear life, wrapped in the loving arms of a husband. I had accepted the break-up of our family and the loss of a long-term marriage. I had even accepted my failures, but when it came to my house, I would not take off the 'rose-colored' glasses.Through those glasses, I held on to hope, a sense of the possible and a way to preserve the past. Through those glasses, I glimpsed the good times, the funny times and even the lovely times as a family.

The 'Pollyanna' in me thrived and those glasses provided wishful thinking.

Over the years, I went through different decorating phases and through a palette of paint colors; I staged my life, making lasting memories. Before children, my friend and I painted almost every wall throughout the house an egg-shell blue. While we were painting the living room, where the big windows offered a view of the Willamette River, we saw something floating in the dark water. My friend got the binoculars and yelled for me down the hall, "Maggie, hurry in here, there is a body... ooh."

Soon, the river patrol was there, blinking its red and blue lights. We shared the binoculars and reported to one another: "They're pulling him out; he's bloated. What a hairy back."

One line from my friend sticks with me to this day: "Just think, at one time, he was someone's baby boy."

I went through my wall-paper phase, papering in plaids, flowers and grass-cloth. When Laurel was about twelve, we left her and Paxton home alone while we went to Las Vegas. Laurel called me on the last day, "Mom, just warning you, please don't get mad, but I have ripped all the wall-paper off the family room walls."


"Don't worry. I'm painting it a dark blue. I'll be done before you get home."

I walked in to midnight blue, unprofessionally painted. That next week, I repainted it a teal blue, added some white shutters, and started my next phase---every room would have a different palette and a new personality. I painted the entry hall a deep cranberry; it took four coats. I learned that red colors don't cover as well, just the opposite of what I intuited. From the cranberry entry, one would enter into the Mediterranean pink living room. From there, one would step into my bright yellow ranch kitchen. What was I thinking? I wasn't; but, I loved it and have stellar memories from those eccentric years.

Most notably, were the pictures taken one Christmas with the pink walls as the backdrop.  We always had a rip-roaring card game, complete with everyone's handle and prizes for first, second and last. Alan had come up with a brilliant idea for the prizes. First prize would be a snapshot taken with our beloved retriever mix, Spanky. Second prize would be taken with our little shi-tzu, Verdel, and the booby prize would be taken with Alan. My brother, who adored Spanky, came in first. My dad came in second, and I have memorialized the picture of him holding Verdel, both grinning from ear to ear. But the best remains the picture of my mom, arm-in-arm with Alan. Probably the only time they would be photographed together with a smile.

Running the length of our house was a brick patio that overlooked the river. One day when we had first moved in, I noticed one brick had cracked and in its fissure, grass had grown, just perfect for a golf tee. To hit over the river would take a monstrous three-hundred-yard drive, so we figured the houses across the way were safe. Years and years of parties, where fierce competitions ensued, yielded years and years of fun, and even a blurb in the Oregonian, until a few college golfers took their turn, driving ball after ball on to the deck of a house across the river.

The next day, a couple came walking up our brick path, holding a bag of golf balls. They asked us to cease and desist. "We feel as though we're looking down the barrel of a gun. We feel we need to wear helmets in order to sit on our deck."

Oh, what memoriesI

When our children were babies, we bought an organ that played by plugging a computer chip into a slot. Our girls grew up dancing and singing in our living room.  They would entertain us, singing to tunes ranging from Frank Sinatra's New York, New York to Dolly Parton's Big Rock Candy Mountain.  They even tapped on the hardwood. Laurel became an accomplished dancer, dancing with a company for many years and is now a dance teacher. Paxton still bears the nickname her cousins had given her from years of singing. They don't call her Paxton; she will forever be 'Tunes'. I take pause and remember Laurel's first twirls, her first bows, her first pas-de-deux on pointe while 'Tunes' crooned to Patsy Cline---memories made---all in that joyous room.

On the advice of my friends, I had pulled up a free credit report and what lay before me dashed my dreams and my hopes.  It smashed my 'rose-colored' glasses, and I began to sob, wiping tears and snot on the sleeve of my well-worn cashmere sweater.  I could not save my house.  The numbers I saw did not even make sense, weren't even real, but I knew I would have to let my house go.

Alan had not been forthcoming about his last loan.  He had sucked all the equity out of the house.  Not only that, but he was paying a mortgage far below the monthly interest.  He had secured a loan known as negative amortization, so that the balance was increasing every month.  Bottom line: the bank would foreclose, and I was now a squatter in my own home---a squatter in the only home my kids and animals had ever known. 

Blood rushed to my head and my jaw throbbed from all the grimacing.  What kind of person would place his family in such jeopardy?  I started to wander around my newly painted house.  I had just painted every room a rich caramel, which made the artwork pop from the walls.  I walked to the windows, looked at Mt. Hood and the moon shining off of the river.  I screamed. What kind of human never thought about his family?  Never planned for the future, but instead, guaranteed that there would be no future?

One year later, I was divorced and could no longer keep my house. It was August and the bank gave me until November.  I was experiencing and accepting these hard truths as I stood gazing out the sliding glass window at the houses across the river.  I had scraped and scrapped and even borrowed from my dad to pull the possibility together, but to no avail.

The Glenhaven saga was over.

The animals were  curled-up together on their large doggy bed, and I was alone with my thoughts.  I lowered my body to the cool tiles on the kitchen floor, went into the fetal position and started to weep.  My sorrowful wails awoke Spanky, who came quietly to lie down by my side. He put his giant paw on my shoulder and licked the tears from my face.  Somehow, we were going to be okay.

Hope.  It's a funny thing.  There is always hope in a new beginning. 



Alan owed over a million dollars on our house. A year later, the bank sold it at auction as a tear-down for $350,000. Today a beautiful mansion stands proudly on the property. The builder let me do a walk- through half-way through the building process. I have heard that it is now a 2.2 million dollar house. Life is interesting.
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