We walked through the tall grass, stopping occasionally, to turn and face the highway.
“No, further back?”
“How far are you going to go?”
“Far. I want to be as far as I can get from the highway.”
The land, deeded to us from my grandparents would be collateral for our loan. It was right next to my mom’s house and on a busy highway. It was not exactly the place I had imagined my house would be, but it was growing on me.
In the fall, I planted trees all around our house site. The land, formerly a garden, seemed too open, bare. In our 8 years of renting at the end of a dirt road, I had become accustomed to life in the woods, the sound of the whippoorwill at night and isolation.
At night, after the girls were tucked bed, I sat at the dining room table of our rented house drawing and re-drawing our plans. My uncle, our contractor, had given us an estimate for what it would cost per square foot. We analyzed, figured, added and subtracted and decided we could spend $100,000 on this house and be able to make the monthly payment.
I kept my calculator, ruler and pencil close by as I erased square footage and tried very hard to see into the future.
Three bedrooms, big closets, a small office and a front porch were staying, but feet were getting cut with each drawing.
I kept a small picture in my wallet of the outside of the house and spent many hours daydreaming about what each room would look like. I imagined built-in bookshelves in the hallway, a closet big enough to walk into.
Finally we had a plan and a loan. We broke ground and watched our paper dreams become three dimensional. We spent evenings watching the girls run across the foundation which felt indefinitely stalled.
And then there were walls and more decisions.
At the end, I painted all the walls and my uncle laid wood floor for free when we ran out of money. We moved in March of 2003 and signed the papers for our mortgage, $30,000 over budget for 20 years.
We settled in, spread out and were able to make our monthly payment as well as begin paying off some credit cards. It felt like we were on the right track. I had visions of being debt free, including our house, in ten years.
Then one morning I got a phone call. My husband had been in a car accident on his way to work. What happened next would change all my plans.
Read more of this series: Our Financial Journey.