I wasn't too different from many Americans in the U.S. back in 2006. I was looking to do a modest remodel, to lower my carbon footprint -- heck, I built a lot of equity into my home, purchased in 1985 with the money I saved since I had my first job at age 12. I worked for my Dad threading the needles to repair tuna nets for the boats. Dad wasn't a fisherman, he just owned the fueling dock and shares of a boat, the Cape Beverly.
I was interviewing and getting bids on the work to be done on my house. I had a rough year health wise in '05. So what happened next was a sign of the times, the "Black Mold" scares! OMGosh, my house, this contractor convinced me, was killing me! Also since I had so much equity in the house that money was going to work for me in an "investment" and I wouldn't have to lift a finger!
Ha! Like my Dad always taught me, "If it seems too good to be true, it usually is!" I listened to the voice a little late and signed blank loan docs, trusting they would be filled out properly. Long story short, it was a scam. Years later, when we bothered to order a fully executed copy of my loan docs from Country Wide which now was B of A, we found forgeries in the loan docs -- clear forgeries! On top of that, the stated income. Oh my! I never made that kind of money in a year in my lifetime, all you would have to do is look at my tax returns.
Fast forward, I lived 7 years with my house half demoed, got a re-modification of my loan, percentage went down, a HUGE balloon payment, and no principle removed, no great deal. So now because of the substandard supplies this unscrupulous contractor used, it cost double what we had anticipated. BUT it is now on solid foundation and back to the dream home I fell in love with.
I have been a little sad about the whole prospects of renting it out, but then I started remembering all the things that happened in that house. I won two more World Championships, two more Olympic Gold Medals, I wrote a wonderful book, "Breaking the Surface" with Eric Marcus, which was #1 New York Times Best seller for five weeks! I raised a few litters of Great Danes -- my first! A litter of Jack Russell Terriers, wrote another book, "For the Life of Your Dog" with Betsy Siino, more closing night parties since it was a bit "out there". Thanksgivings with my Mom; I got Mom for Thanksgiving and my sister got her for Christmas. An incredible wedding reception for a dear friend, Cindy (my nurse and house sitter at the times) who married Scott Kay, and they set up their band that included Lou Diamond Philips. It was awesome! Michael Feinstein played my piano only for my Mom! Doug Johnson was always they're, to cook, host, play requests, singing show tunes and pop songs. Having the 1996 Australian Olympic Team over for a barbecue! Sorry there were no shrimp on the Barbie, but lots of fun, diving off my one-meter platform.
I did the Aids Ride back in '97 and rather than following the group into the closing ceremonies, I just hung a "louie" and pedaled to my front door step!... The countless dogs I trained there. My next joy: Even though it was torn up, we had our wedding brunch and rehearsal at the house, everyone seemed to have blast in spite of the condition of the house. We cooked Greek and Cajun! Johnny's Sisters... family friends... so much love! There was so much joy and laughter and also sorrow and tears. So much LIFE! Now I am at a place in my mind's eyes is to be able to share that joy, because it is a spectacular spot. Focusing on the joy it brought to me and now being able to share that with someone who might appreciate it like I have for so many years, it really makes me happy. Also the timing is so incredible. The market at Trancas just opened back up after years of being closed, breathing new life into this little community. Bitter sweet, but mostly sweet to be able to share.
Follow Greg Louganis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/greglouganis