The appraiser

One upside to the times we now live in is that re-financing one’s mortgage is a sound financial move. So, right now, I am in the middle of refinancing my mortgage for the house and home my family and I have lived in for over 20 years. One part of this process required a new appraisal of house including porch, garage and basement. I did not have to be home when this happened. My son would be taking classes on Zoom the scheduled day. He let the appraiser into the house on the scheduled day to confirm dimensions, takes photos of each room and otherwise do his thing. A week later I got an email from the appraiser. I was anxious to see how much my house had increased in value over those 20 years.

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I scrolled though the document of almost 15 pages of small text, measurements and checked boxes. I found the appraised value, which was close to what I expected and happy with that, I hurriedly scrolled to the end of the attachment. As I neared the end of the doc, photos of the house, interior rooms, porch and basement, showed up. I had not expected the photos to be included in this document. So, when I saw them pop up, I felt an odd feeling run up my spine, as if I were spying on my own life. I felt like I were looking at someone’s diary when I knew I shouldn’t have been, like I was looking in through the window at my wanna be Mario Batali neighbor as they made popcorn for dinner. It wasn’t anger or embarrassment that a stranger was in my house taking pictures while I wasn’t there. No, not at all. That was a arranged, understood part of the the process. Again, it was the surprise of seeing these photos in a the oddly voyeuristic circumstances in which I found them.

I know and lived the history and stories that are behind those photos, and that for me, animate them. There are so many stories in each room. So many days, nights, afternoons. So many times spent as family having dinner together in the kitchen. As I scrolled down from room to room, I began to imagine the appraiser doing the same thing. Room to room. What is interesting about the dining room to him? The porch? The washer and dryer in the basement? The hardwood floors?

I know right now I have a favorite room, but that changes as the weather does. It’s the front porch. But that matters little to the appraiser. Or to the any prospective buyers, if and when that happens. After I e-signed the document and sent it on its way, It struck me how similar the appraisal process of the commodity of a house is similar to that of my novel, Tripio. I have may favorite parts and passages in the book. The parts that after I had written them created thoughts of grandeur, thoughts of self-congratulation, and certainty that the future readers of Tripio would simply love them as well. What I have found in talking to a few readers of Tripio is that not a single one of them has taken my favorite parts as theirs. They appraise the book, appreciate the book differently. I have since got used to this and upon reflection, it makes sense. I love drinking coffee and reading on my front porch. Not everyone does, or will. It doesn’t make it bad or wrong. It doesn’t mean they won’t like the house or want to but it. It only means we are all different, unique and fabulous in our own ways. After awhile I began signing Tripio with the dedication “We all read a different book. I hope you enjoy your copy of Tripio!” I now recognize that they have the front door key and will apprise and appreciate Tripio in their own way, even it it isn’t on the front porch over a cup of coffee.


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