ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

Yesterday morning Joshua sent Cindi an e-mail explaining his decision to back off Charles Street.

This morning I leave her a message of my own. “Joshua is tired. This house has worn him out, and it’s not even his yet. He says it’s like fighting with a girlfriend. ‘Why would I marry a woman I fight with?’ he asks. So, he doesn’t want to marry this house. Plus, he doesn’t like the fact that he can’t sell it for six months.”

Cindi returns my call. “This has been a long drawn-out process. If Joshua wants out of the contract, I understand. I’ll bring over a release form this afternoon for him to sign. The house will sell very quickly. George, the listing aent, has a long line of people who want it. But I looked at the original sales contract and haven’t found anything in it that says Joshua can’t sell it in the next six months. Will this make a difference to him?”

“It might, Cindi. That was the extra kick he didn’t like.”

Early this afternoon, Joshua calls me. “Do you want to take a walk in Seneca?”

“Yes. But Cindi wants you to sign a release form this afternoon.”

“I’ve talked to Cindi already. I told her I want a quick closing and no problem if I decide to flip it. She’s checking it out for me.”

I can’t believe this. Joshua has done a complete about-face.

We go for our walk, then head back to the car. He checks his messages. One’s from Cindi, and he calls her back. “Okay . . . okay,” he says. He hangs up, then turns to me. “Cindi and George have set a closing date for Friday. That’s the day after tomorrow. They knew I was serious, and they got their shit together. This is a good thing. It’s crazy to walk away from this deal. The house is worth a hundred thou as is. Why would I not buy it? It’s like hitting the Pick Six. . . . It’s time for a high five, little mama.”

We slap palms and clasp hands.

His phone rings. It’s Cindi again. I hear a series of yeahs on his part. Then he hangs up.

“Now I know for sure Cindi’s legit,” he says. “I can trust her. She just talked it over with her husband. If I don’t like the place after I buy it, they’ll buy it from me. There’s nothing for me to worry about now. Obviously, anyone would have a few butterflies, buying a house. That’s to be expected.” He studies me. “Someone needs to plug you in, little mama. Give you a jolt of electricity. This is a thing to celebrate.”

Finally, he sounds enthusiastic. This is what I’ve been waiting for. He has energy.

“What changed your mind?” I ask.

“Yesterday I drove over to Charles Street. I saw a guy about my age working on his truck. I talked to the mailman. It’s a real neighborhood. I looked like a rogue casing the joint — I’m the suspicious-looking one. Everyone else belongs. It’s a good-feeling street.” He reaches for his basketball, lying on the car mat at my feet. “This morning I shot one hundred free throws. I usually hit seventy percent of my shots. I told myself: If I hit at least seventy shots, I’ll buy the house. I shot seventy-two.”

“What if you’d made only sixty-nine?”

“I probably would have bought the house anyway.”

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Ernestina

Ernestina

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.