Have you ever heard the saying, “things happen for a reason?” In my head, what I hear is “blah, blah, blah.” Ugh! Sometimes I just hate all these happy horse shit sayings, trying to keep me happy through disaster, yet, that is just what they do.
My husband and I were asked to be on a segment of International House Hunters. The TV producers heard we were looking for a home in Poland, a place they were looking to do a show in. Excited about this adventure we put together our preliminary video. Check it out below – click on the image.
We had a list of wants for our new home:
- Historic building
- Elevator or 1st floor unit
- Budget 50K
The show was on a schedule, so we hat to find a unit and fast. Several realtors later (a story for another time), we found the perfect spot.
- Historic building – check.
- Parking – well…does it count that it was down the street and around the corner?
- Elevator or 1st floor-nope but maybe my thighs could use the workout…don’t they?
- Storage-well sort of…with 12-foot ceilings we could build it in…can’t we?
- Budget-under budget but a total redo inside…are we out of our minds…quite possibly!
- Click the image to see the final project…to see why we were so in love!!
Deal made, papers signed, architect hired. So far so good, don’t you think? Next up the producers needed a video of the flat, so we brought the architect along to finalize the plans.
My husband and I were like newlyweds. He was ecstatic to have his American wife moving to his home country. A place that he was not sure he would ever return to after defecting to America during the Solidarity movement in 1979.
Arriving at the property we see the outside transition of the building taking place, the elegant return of the façade is beautiful, and our minds are a flurry with excitement.
There are construction workers busy at work both inside and out as we climb the stairs to our new home. I pull the video camera out as we open the door. We’ re thrilled! We enter the small foyer area as the architect tells us of his plan. So far, so good and amazing.
We walk down the small corridor into the area were the bathroom and kitchen will be. My mind is bursting with ideas. The architect and I are in sync and I couldn’t be happier, until we round the corner to the living room.
It’s gone…they’re gone..all of the original hand carved doors – GONE. The original oak parquet floors – TORN UP AND GONE. I want to throw up.
The architect is stunned and tells us he can find replacements – at a cost of course. But my heart has already sunk. The vision is gone.
We phone the agent and the developer who do not see the problem. To them they were old, to us they were part of the story that the unit had to tell. I was excited to live in a place that had stories to share. The building had been through a lot and the people that had previously lived there had left impressions or feelings in the space. I wanted to that.
Oh no…the deadlines. Now what? Everything is off-we have given notice to move out from our current apartment. The TV show deadline will be missed. Where will we live, what will we do, where will we put our things? The down payment?
Freaked out, pissed off, frustrated and the real estate agent and developer offer no solution. This is not America, there is no one to sue, no recourse, we just pray that we can get our deposit back. Devastated we pull out from the contract, thankfully our money was refunded (thanks to the photos and videos I had done throughout the journey – thanks to TVN) and my TV debut is squashed.
This was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. The communication problems with the realtor, not understanding the American. Going from 1400 square feet (130 square meters) to 480 square feet (45 square meters) is emotional and no one could understand that. I felt alone and even though I was excited about the experience I secretly wondered what the hell I was getting myself into.
In the end, “things happen for a reason.” Or I could say, “hind sight is 20/20.” Although our wish list of being in a historic building was met, parking our car outside, around the corner and down the street in the winter time would have been a disaster. And hiking up 3 long flights of stairs several times a day with groceries would not have been any fun, even on a good day. As for the storage, we could have built enough in the unit but would have needed a ladder to access it…not on my list of good ideas as we age. And as far as the budget, we certainly were under our 50K budget but this was a total redo and not like in America where the walls are made of 2 x 4’s and drywall. These were 12-inch cement walls with a bathroom and kitchen that did not currently exist. So, all in all, someone was looking out for us. In other words, “things happen for a reason.”
Where has this happened in your life? When have “things happened for a reason” that you might have been trying to force? When did you need to let go of the wheel and stop being in control? When did you have to believe that there was something else out there for you?
After the devastation passed and we could breathe a sigh of relief, we totally did a 180 and ended up buying a flat in a new development outside of the city that was not historic at all, that has under-ground on-site parking, an elevator, private storage unit and a security guard at the gate. Yup, buyers are liars. Which, this in and of itself is another story for another time. Traveling the globe and trying to bring our traditional ways of doing things definitely does not work, even when buying a new unit. Living like a native…does. But we are thrilled with our final decision even though we have a long way to go to the final product…(a story for another time.)
Where is your silver lining?
Cheers to life lessons,
P.S. If you have someone in your life that would enjoy this post or that is thinking or dreaming of living in a foreign country…send this post their way!
You can also check out all the other posts on my life overseas at: How To Be Merry