Monday, February 15, 2016

the pink week-end reaches its own finale

This morning, as I roll out pizza dough for a dinner later in the week, I think about how subtle cultural differences often are.

To the naked eye, a Warsaw real estate transaction may proceed exactly in the same way as one in Madison Wisconsin. There is an agent. The agent conveys the offer and the counter until everyone is in agreement. There is a lawyer who reviews the paper trail. There is a down payment. There is a final payment and the keys are handed over. I haven't yet seen if there's a popping of champagne in celebration at the end, but I kind of doubt it. And on this end, in all my home purchases (total of five), I don't recall anyone handing me champagne. The best I netted was a bottle of cheap wine and a crocheted Christmas ornament from an agent who meant well.

But the naked eye doesn't see the whole story. Because honestly, at the gut level, everything about the Warsaw apartment buying feels different. I say to Ed over breakfast... (what? you thought I'd skip the nod to breakfast? Not at all!)

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... it's as if Poles haven't quite grasped that capitalism is a cruel beast, with no soft or kind moments, where you might take a pause and gaze lovingly at your daylilies, or at the bat show from your front porch while the beast waits for your next move. (I use examples of favorite activities at the farmette.)

Take my latest (third!) apartment offer, made on the garishly pink place in Warsaw. My sister conveyed the offer to the agent and he conveyed it to the owners on Saturday afternoon. I waited by the phone all evening.


Then comes Sunday and of course, nothing happens on Sunday. Along comes Monday morning.


Ed says -- they're letting you stew.
I respond -- but I'm the buyer! I can, in the meantime, make other offers, look at other apartments! Look at me! I've already backed out of two sales! Grab me now or you may never hear from me again!
Ed repeats -- they're letting you stew.

But I think he is not correct. I think he thinks like an American on this one.

When it is nearly evening in Warsaw, I hear back from the sellers. There is a counter offer.
I respond immediately with my own counter. My sister gently suggests -- maybe you'd like to wait a day? They'll expect you to sit on it for a while.

Time? I'm negotiating. Time is to be manipulated toward a better deal. Time is a killer for an anxious seller. I have a roving eye, always on the lookout for a better deal. Indeed, I have another apartment lined up, just in case.

And here's the second point: that other apartment that's lurking in the background -- we haven't seen it yet, because the owner is feeling a little under the weather. They'll show it maybe later in the week.

People! You want to sell? Don't get me in there at the end of the week! I have the pinkie in the works, I wont be interested later in the week. Don't let yourself be my back up plan! Put yourself in competition with the other place!

My sister tells me that people contemplate. They don't rush. She is not surprised by the need to feel the gentleness of the passage of time.

Subtle differences: a deal is but one aspect of life there. It does not dictate your movements. It takes its place in line with other imperatives.

Ed says I should take up buying and selling apartments as a hobby. Sell this one, buy the next, make a profit -- he tells me. I remind him that I am only on the surface Americanized. Deep down, I understand the longing for order. For stability. For moments of respite. For star gazing, bat gazing, lily gazing. I am, as always, at the cusp of two worlds, following the imperatives of neither very well.

Ah, but if it's Monday then, well, you know -- the little one comes to the farmhouse!

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Let's continue the theme of cultural differences for a bit:
Did you know, Snowdrop, that far far away, there is this city...

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... where you can take your dog to a coffee shop?

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Well, we do not have a dog at the farmhouse, but we do, of course, have a coffee shop, not too far down the road. It's time to pick up some more pickles (they have them there -- the only ones Ed likes west of Brooklyn) and so in the afternoon, after lunch (her smile comes out when someone she knows and likes enters the kitchen)...

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... she and I head out.

She gets a wee crumb of a cookie I purchase for Ed (her cap and the cafe mug match: coincidence!).

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But the highlight for her is being let loose in the play corner. A new toy to mess with!

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And another!

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And better yet, new people to greet!

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Evening. Snowdrop is now back home. The night isn't too cold. At the farmhouse, I look to Ed -- ready?

We go out to eat our Valentine's Day dinner at Brasserie V. Mussels and fries, at the bar. No, my Warsaw apartment negotiations aren't over. Of course they're not. But there's a certain comfort in understanding how things will proceed, how they might falter, how good it will be no matter what the outcome.

I sip my glass of rose wine.

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We pack up the left over fries for Ed's lunches in the week ahead. On the drive home, out of nowhere, he says -- you know, we really have a great house. Perfectly small. Just right.

Yes, just right.

1 comment:

  1. a lovely loving moment captured of the two of you, and of course, all the lovely, lovely ones of S, who is getting so big and grown-up!! ox


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