Upstairs, Downstairs

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Our loan modification was denied. After a year of delays and frustration, promises and let-downs, my husband and I were crestfallen at the arrival of a letter from our lender. It said we had an "inability to afford" our reduced trial modification payment. This was news to us since we had never missed a payment. Our savings were severely diminished, so when we received word we'd have to return to our original payment, we put the top story of our home up for rent.

We packed our things slowly, and over the course of a month redistributed our belongings so that we'd fit into our new place. The basement in-law is 1/3 the size of the upstairs, but we figured we're adaptable people, no problem.

So here I am, sitting in our one-bedroom basement apartment listening to the tenant upstairs walk around our house. I listen to her child play with his friends on the same floor our son did not long ago. The noise is irritating. I'm irate, but not at her, at the situation. That's MY house.

We were approved for our home loan with adequate income and nearly no debt. Then the 'downturn' happened. The landscape industry took a major hit. We both lost our jobs, but recovered new ones quickly. Only problem is, they pay a lot less and there are no health benefits -- and now we need day care for our son as I return to work full-time.

I was able to enjoy a healthy maternity leave due to my unemployment. For that I am grateful. But I miss my son. I miss our house. I miss our old life of living upstairs wreaking havoc on our basement in-law tenant instead of them wreaking havoc on us. Walk a mile, I suppose. I'm much more aware of our impact on the downstairs resident now that I'm in their shoes. Needless to say, the day can't come nearly fast enough when we make the trek back upstairs and settle into our home once again.


With a Perspective, this is Jocelyn Brodeur Rohan.