"How's New Zealand?"
"Where are you now?"
"What's next on the agenda?" I texted Case, anxious for answers.
I should preface this by saying that my son, Case, had graduated a little over a year and a half ago from the University of Arizona and had promptly taken a job in Austin, Texas as a placeholder. Unhappy with his prospects in the lone-star state (or lack there of) he had finally decided to journey half way around the world to the land of Kiwi (and sheep!); a trip he'd been dreaming about for years and an adventure that Cliff and I enthusiastically supported wholeheartedly. (Is there any better education than travel?)
As a child, he'd been nearly impossible to take almost anywhere, so it was startling to imagine an overseas adventure Case would now be embarking upon . . .
all by his lonesome. (Seriously, you could have knocked me over with a feather.) speaking as his mother, New Zealand is really REALLY far away!
Still, I can't deny I'm both pleased and proud of my son and his willingness to step outside the box (he's currently "woofing" on an organic farm on the South Island.) Isn't it great to see our kids, ummm, I mean "emerging adults," emerge. (Yes, it is.)
"Of course you should go," we said. "You're young, you've saved the money, and you'll never have this freedom or time again. Do it!"
So with passport and work visa firmly in hand, our elder son secured a discounted ticket from our good friends and left the country a few days before Thanksgiving. His sporadic texts have ranged from cautious excitement ("Met three other travelers my first night here.") to sheer desperation ("We've been camping and it sucks!"). But mostly there's been long stretches of radio silence. (Honey, throw your mother a bone.)
Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp, chip-chirp . . . crickets.
Until Wednesday morning when at long last he reached out . . .
"Did you buy Powerball tickets by any chance? Please purchase one for me!" (It's not the photo spreads my nieces post on Instagram or their YouTube music video of their recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, but I'll take it.)
Of course, like everyone else in the free world, I'd bought Powerball tickets. Did he think I was completely crazy? Who didn't want a chance at 1.6 BILLION DOLLARS and the dreams of how to share the wealth? Sure, we didn't have a snowball's chance in hell (in fact, I think those were technically the odds: "A snowball's chance in hell") but the 20 bucks was worth contemplating the "What ifs?" as in "What if I actually became a multi-millionaire overnight?" How would that change my life? (Isn't that why we all bought them?)
When eager lottery-ticket buyers were asked by local reporters what they would do with their potential winnings, the overwhelming response was "I'd buy a house."
"I'd buy a house . . ."
Whether actually buying, maintaining and caring for a home truly brings happiness, is hard to quantify, but it nonetheless ranks high on most people's dream list.
"I'd buy a house."
So if you're contemplating such a move this spring and your weren't one of the lucky three who actually DID win the prize, OR you're not an ALL-CASH Buyer, either by design or favor, you'll want to start preparing NOW for what looks to be a very competitive spring marketplace once more (absent a complete free-fall in the stock market. Perish the thought.)
So where to begin?
Note, that I didn't suggest you meet with a Realtor first (although we're never opposed to that) as we're likely to ask: "Who's your lender?" Without establishing your credit upfront, you'll have absolutely no way to respond quickly enough once you find the house you've been dreaming of.
In the meantime, I'm dreaming of visiting New Zealand since it's clear my son won't be sending home any photos or Tweeting about his journey anytime soon. Time to let my little bird soar, I suppose. He seems to be doing just fine without me AND the Powerball win, and actually, that's a true win!
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 12 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.