The Path to Economic Recovery
Bronson Page is a screenwriter, art director, and keeper of LovesickBilly.com. The economic downturn has made Bronson and his husband, Sam, reassess their home life. These are his words…
The thought of a $40,000 car is nauseating, but I’ve had two of them, and at one point I was part owner of four cars at once. It was madness. Someone I know was given a pristine, paid-for, mid-century modern at the top of Mulholland by her Grandmother-in-law, as a wedding gift, and the couple considered putting $400K into a second story because there were no windowless rooms ideal for a media room. Our own 1,600 square foot 3br home has felt been uncomfortable for a while, but not because it was too small. In fact, Sam and I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working, so we just kept trying to FILL it. We scrambled to reinvent and outfit rooms to be cozier, more welcoming, and we succeeded, but a simple problem remained: there are 8 rooms, and we can only be in one of them at a time.
Welcome to the Los Angeles economic downturn, and the fact that our beloved home has depreciated in value by – are you sitting down – 26-28%. To put this in perspective, in early 2005, I bought a decrepit 1926 Cape Cod style rat trap right out of a Stephen King novel, in the mid $500s. Renovated electrical, siding, floors, double-paned windows, insulation, and central heat and air ($110K) later the house is as good as new, and never more beautiful. Now, it just happens to be worth around $450K. When I bought the house with my ex, in 2005, we were fresh from a major real estate boon, and ready to flip a bigger house. Well, it was the relationship that wound up getting flipped before we’d even unpacked any boxes. Sam and I have vacillated for the past three years, wondering if we should stay or if we should go, but we were already on the backside of the bubble. We were too late.
There’s a lot of talk about mortgage restructuring and government assistance, but it’s not for us. You see, we’ve paid our mortgage on time, and without fail since I bought the house. We’re current, and in being current, there’s nothing that Chase can or will do for us. “We’re not even assigning case workers to an account until they’re 4-6 months behind,” a Chase customer service rep in their mortgage restructuring division told me last week, “call us back then.” Even if we were 6 months behind, nobody’s writing down the principal on mortgages, so at best we’d just wind up with a better mortgage, with a lower interest rate, stretched over 40 years, instead of 30 – but still paying $625k for a home which will likely never be worth that much again.
The greatest danger of Los Angeles is that the illusion is not completely out of reach. The nosejob or the fake tits – or the liposuction – can all go on Visa, and what’s three to five years of payments when you’re getting jobs and getting laid? You want to live in a fabulous apartment, that can be had too, for just a little bit more than you had planned to spend, and besides, have you seen where you’d have to live for under $700 a month? In this country, and especially in L.A., what can’t be bought can be leased for a while, giving the illusion of luxury arrival, until that next nugget comes in – if it comes in – and until then, like junkies, we will do nearly anything to get it. The number of Hummers and BMWs and Bentleys with custom rims is not directly proportional to the number of people actually getting rich in this town. It’s bling on borrowed time; an epic 22″ chrome rim of revolving credit, and the Pages are hopping off.
We’re making a change: preparing for foreclosure and downsizing to fit into a one-bedroom apartment by year’s end. Of course, this includes a credit rolldown, and an aggressive paying-off of our little remaining plastic on a nuclear scale. I’m looking forward to it, and that’s not just me looking on the bright side. A lot of the pressure is off. I have begun to blog again, and write again, out of a love for writing, and not out of a need to write something that is going to save our financial bacon. Sam is suddenly a lot less stressed, which affects his health, and that’s everything to me. Mom, bless her heart, who moved in almost six months ago to help us save the house, isn’t doing as much hand-wringing as she used to be, worried about us, and has found a cozy little nook in West Hollywood. She’s excited and we’re excited for her.
When I first moved to L.A., Howard Brandy told me that it would take me ten years to make it in L.A. Well, I may not have made it in the way he meant, or in the way I was expecting, but it took ten years for me to find Sam, figure myself out, grow up, and find my purpose, and if that’s not making it…
More about Bronson Page
Bronson Page is a screenwriter, art director, and rodeo enthusiast living in L.A. with his husband, Sam Page. His blog, LovesickBilly.com, is about sex, love, and relationships – as well as a window into his relationship and adventures with Sam. Currently, Bronson is putting together a deal to produce Damages for the screen and stage, a rock opera about his most painful childhood memories, told through 18 songs by Queen.
Photo credit: LovesickBilly.com.