Returning from vacation always makes me anxious because I dread what awaits me in my Inbox and voicemail. To preface this, I should mention that we have a history of emergencies happening while we’re away. Over the years I’ve come home to calls from the fire department about a situation with live wires, the gas company about a gas leak, the electric company about suspicions of foreign load…and on and on.
Why the entire world must fall apart at the seams the exact week we decide to go away and relax, is beyond me. Needless to say, I’d prefer that our vacations never end, so I could remain in blissful ignorance of the armageddon back home. But they do end, and this past Saturday we journeyed home from a slow-paced, sun-kissed, relaxing week in Grand Cayman. And since we’re in the process of buying a home (more on that later), I could only imagine the mountain of problems and issues waiting for us.
The moment we landed in Philadelphia, I turned on my cell phone and watched as the e-mails and voicemails registered, dinging and vibrating in my hand, and filling my heart with sheer terror. There were no voicemails from the police chief – or any other city official for that matter – which was a pleasant surprise but only meant that the bad news was lurking somewhere in my e-mail.
My stomach was in knots as I skimmed through my Inbox searching for subject lines containing the words “URGENT’, “EMERGENCY” or “DISASTER”. But other than an e-mail from a concerned tenant asking when we’re going to mow the lawn (yeah, I still haven’t figured that out yet), there was nothing. No floods or sinkholes. No water leaks or hail damage. No downed limbs or power lines. Nothing.
The fact that there wasn’t any bad news was shocking. Even more shocking was that one of the e-mails actually contained great news: Empty Arms earned an Honorable Mention in General Fiction at the 2012 New York Book Festival!
Between the absence of bad news and this surprising good news, I had a permanent smile affixed to my face. Maybe the tides have turned, I thought. Maybe the storm of bad news has passed.
And then the phone rang.
That’s when we learned that in order to fix the “water leak” in the basement of the new house (which, by the way, after a gazillion days of rain amounted to a water spot no bigger than a Maltese’s puddle of pee), they’re going to need to drive a backhoe through the yard, dig up the lovely gardens in the rear of the house, and apply tar to the cracks in the exterior wall of the foundation, thereby delaying our settlement.
Apparently the tides haven’t changed at all. On the bright side, at least now they won’t permeate my new basement.