11 April 2006

The End of Ambivalence: The Closing

There was an immigration rally near City Hall, a block away from the closing agent's office. Rally + City Hall + Hillary Clinton (she was one of the speakers) = massive security, but despite that, I was 20 minutes early, and, of course, the first one there.

The closing agent didn't draw breath from the time I entered the office until... never. She's probably still talking. "You can sit there," taking me into the conference room, around which there were 8 chairs, three on each side opposing each other, "no, not there, your lawyer will sit there; you sit in the middle."

The broker and I had come down together from the walk through, and the closing agent seemed unsure of where to seat her. On the one hand, she was the seller's broker; on the other, she had nothing to do in this besides collect a check from the seller and be nice to me. The broker sat next to me -- not in my lawyer's seat, don't worry -- and the closing agent sat at the head of the table, flipping frantically through a stack of papers and telling us stories of closings gone awry. "This one time, no one could find the title.... then there was the time -- this is funny -- when the lending bank showed up with a check for the wrong person...." She showed me the title that would become mine once the old title was turned over. "Take a good look now," she said, though she didn't let me hold it, "because this may be the only time you ever see it."

The seller's lawyer arrived and sat opposite me. His voice shook as if he wasn't used to public speaking; he always refered to me by my name, rather than "the buyer" or "her"; I developed a crush on him immediately.

The seller, whom I never met before, was a woman about my age wearing a blue sweater and linen pants, and the relaxed look of a person about to make a lot of money. Her lawyer, my lawyer, the payoff bank's lawyer, everyone knew each other, and the closing agent tried to make a party of it, "it's like old home week in here," and when that didn't excite anyone, she asked the payoff bank's lawyer, in her softest voice, "but Agnus is okay? She's getting around alright?" referring, I suppose, to a sick wife.

There were preliminary papers to sign, but the most important person, the lending bank's lawyer -- with the big checks for the seller and the contracts for me -- wasn't there. "We're all waiting for Eliah," my lawyer said (var. Elijah; Passover starts this week), and Eliah came nearly an hour late.

There was only one surprise check to write -- for a fuel surcharge for the building's oil bill -- but it was for less than 20 dollars. The broker had to remind the seller to give me the keys, and everyone shook my hand. I left the building as quickly as I could, into the immigration ralliers. It was a beautiful day. I felt like I could do anything and had no idea what to do with myself.


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