A quiet little poof at 3:44 PM, CST yesterday. Did you hear it? That's when my dreams, all that I've been working for this summer and couldn't tell you about, went up in smoke. Poof. Just like that.
On Monday night, I was finally ready - felt like I could - sit down to tell you what I've been working on, strategizing for - all summer. But, I thought I'd better wait until my meeting yesterday that would put the last of my proverbial ducks in a row. It wouldn't be signed, sealed, and delivered, but it was gonna happen.
I didn't even tell Mama & Papa Pea about my Big Plans until the beginning of this month. It was hard, not sharing my small successes and overriding stresses for those 5 months. But, I felt like saying it out loud would jinx it - jinx the "answer to all my problems", the answer to my future. But, now, the rest of you will hear the long tale, straight from the chicken's mouth.
Beginning with an initial meeting way back in March, I've been working on buying a friend's business. A good business. An established business. A business I knew I could even improve on. A business that would be financially supporting for me. A business that's located right at the bottom of my main road . . . I wouldn't even have to drive to town.
She was ready to sell. The business, at least, if not the buildings and commercial property. Cafe, bakery, small grocery store, and liquor store. She listed it with another mutual friend / real estate agent. Then, at that first meeting in March, she told me that she'd be willing to sell me the entire she-bang that I wanted - business, inventory, appliances, buildings, and 2.3 acres - on Contract for Deed if I could come up with the money for the business up-front. Perrrrfect! Absolutely perfect.
I had plans to add on to the existing building or put up a new structure which would house a gallery for, most importantly, Chicken Mama Designs, but also the many fantastic artists around here. I was going to screen-in and enclose the large patio to provide 3-season seating. The logo and signs were designed. Within five years, my goal was to have a group insurance plan so my cousins from California could finally move up and go into business with me as had been the original original plan.
I had employee lists and schedules written out - all the better for my comprehensive business plan. I'd gained a wonderful employee straight from the court administrator's office - one of the few places who knew about my plans due to the necessary legalities. Printed out, my file of paperwork was between 1/4" and 1/2" in thickness.
Once I knew it was a "go" - something I was GOING to make happen - I did the smart thing and started to deal with the real estate agent instead of my friend . . . wanting to keep everything "legal", etc. Through him, information was gathered: Profit & Loss statements, tax assessments, well reports from the MN Dept. of Health, compliance certificates regarding the septic system, inventory lists, the whole gamut. I went to the bank and the credit union and met with loan officers.
I sent a Letter of Intent at the end of July, just to "secure" things with the seller, make sure she knew I was making this happen, make sure she'd tell me if she was reviewing offers from others.
Stupidly (I really do know better) and ignorantly (or blindly, due to my excitement?), I expected that I'd be "in" by now, so my money ran out last month. I had to borrow a personal loan just to get by, and that money will be used up within weeks.
Yesterday, I had my final "big" meeting at the court house to see if I could get a big chunk of the Contract for Deed down-payment / cost of the business covered. I was nervous going into it, but I just knew this would work. Sheer will and determination and all that rot. I had to make it work!
The meeting went very well, and they saw no reason why I wouldn't be granted the funds I was applying for. My final presentation to the county board would happen on September 13th, and then a check could be cut. If all the papers the lawyers had to draw up could be ready in time, I could close by the end of next month and be in MY new business . . . income at the ready!
I know I must have been glowing with happiness because, as I left the auditor's office and went up to the court administrator's, the clerk and I got to talking about my divorce, how I was doing, blah, blah, blah when she suddenly said, "Well, I've got to say . . . you look FANTASTIC!" Really? Me? It must have been perma-grin from the meeting.
Back at my office, my favorite girl from my managerial days last summer stopped in unexpectedly. As we were talking, she interrupted and said, "You know, can I just say, you look REALLY PRETTY today!" Yep, it had to be due to my meeting. (Although, I had put on makeup for the appointment, and that ALWAYS helps!)
So, I've gotta admit, I was flyin' high. I decided that I would treat myself to a bottle of wine (that I can't afford) on the way home and sit down here at my laptop to FINALLY share my summer's stress - albeit mostly the "good kind" - with you, my dear friends.
I was puttering at my desk, going through paperwork, when I heard the 'ding' that announced a new e-mail. It was from my real estate agent. It was 3:44 PM, CST. The message was simple and to the point: "she pulled the business off the market".
Only one word popped into my mind and, while I hate to embarrass my folks, it seems apt. It started with 'f' and ended in 'uck'.
I'd diligently told the seller, through my realtor, that this final meeting that would really pretty much solidify things was happening yesterday. August 23rd. 1:00. After that, we could get down to the nitty-gritty of negotiating the final thousands of dollars. So, is it merely a coincidence that she made this decision not to sell, after all, on the very same day? And late in the afternoon at that? Not, say, early in the morning before I'd have made my big pitch at the court house? I can't help but think that, no, it wasn't a coincidence.
I am . . . numb, I think. I wish I could cry. Sob, bawl, howl, scream. Get it OUT of my system. I only managed a few tears last night when I went back to my folks' to pick up the dogs. Papa Pea met me at the door and simply said, "I'll bet you could use a big hug right about now." Mom, tears in her eyes, was right behind him.
For the first time in my life, I bought liquor last night with the solitary plan of getting drunk. Drowning my woes for at least a few hours and all that rot. So, on the way home, I stopped and bought two bottles of wine I can't afford. Of course, by the time I got home, that desire was kaput, and the bottles are still sitting, unopened, in the refrig. Instead, I drank a Mr. Pibb and ate dry Chex cereal out of the box.
When I called Mama & Papa Pea to tell them I'd gotten home safely and hadn't smashed the Yaris into the store on the way home as I'd momentarily fantasized doing, I'd found enough humor to say, when Dad picked up, "Well, I've figured out a way to solve the plan. I'm going to turn the Swamp River Ridge house into a high-end brothel. I'll be the madam and make all the girls work for me." Not missing a beat, Dad said, "Well, you'll have to get better screens on your windows and doors then to keep the mosquitoes out!" Hmmm, good point. ;)
Today, I feel pole-axed. Clothes-lined. Hit upside the head with a 2x4. The rug pulled out from under me. Taken out at the knees.
There's a somewhat similar business for sale in town that I might look at, but, to tell you the truth, the huge benefit of this one I thought I was buying was that it cut my driving in half. A business all the way back in town certainly ain't gonna do that.
So, all this stress and strain and planning and figuring and trying to stretch a dollar into ten that I've spent ALL my time since March on . . . is for naught. And, I need to figure something out FAST.
It just really, really, REALLY sucks.
There. That's all. Now you know.
I'll rally. No worries about that. But, for today, for these past fewer-than-24-hours, I'm just shocked into numbness.