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A Terribly Terrifying Tale

September 8, 2010

Read about losing your house and baking pies.

According to an Op-Ed piece by Tina Griego, a columnist for the Denver Post and published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday, Lawrence Osborn bought his home in Loveland, Colo., in March 2004.

He lost it in May 20101.

“Lost” is the euphemism of our economically uncertain times. The house is in foreclosure. Osborn is counting on living in it for another month or two.

The house is blond brick with the modest lines common in ’50s ranch construction. Four bedrooms; 2,200 square feet, half of that in the basement. Osborn gathers his friends there once a month to play music, dance, and eat. Not enough people do that anymore, as far as he is concerned. We’ve become too isolated.

The home entered foreclosure amid the steady if slowing drip of properties occupied by those who can no longer afford them. The volume and duration of this crisis has had the impact of robbing the very word of meaning. Onlookers can maintain a sense of urgency – and therefore interest – for only so long. The beat goes on. No one needs to tell Osborn that.

Still, a foreclosure filing is never just a bank transaction. A man buys a home and makes it an extension of himself, welcoming and generous and a little shaggy around the edges.

The backyard is spacious, and in it stands an apple tree. Osborn figures the tree must be as old as the house. It, too, is generous, bearing a bounty of small, crisp, tart apples – though last year it gave none at all. This seems fitting. Last year, “my whole life went,” Osborn says, and throws his hands up in the air, mimicking an explosion.

This year, the tree was in fine form, and Osborn – looking at its laden branches in this last summer in the first house he ever owned – came to an Osborn-like conclusion: When life hands you lemons, you make apple pies.

He lost the house the way a lot of people are losing their homes. One day in December 2008, his boss called him and said, “Look, I’m really sorry about this, but we’re going to have to let you go.”

Poof.

He was a project manager for a land-surveying company, college-educated. He was earning $28 an hour.

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