Vacant neighbors

The vacant house nextdoor has displayed two different realtors' signs since we moved in. It's vacant. I imagine the owners are sweating somewhere, arguing about whether they should lower the price, sweating every mortgage payment, the wife crying herself to sleep at night, the kids unable to eat breakfast because the tension twisting their stomachs precludes feeding. Seduced by the up-up-up real estate market and now one of the many families left holding the bag, as it were. It's all very told-you-so in the abstract but in the concrete, much more brutal. I keep thinking of that Carver story where the wife yells at the husband, "Bankrupt!" The ultimate declaration of worthlessness in a capitalist society.
Maybe they were even convinced to invest more money in having the house kitted out with a limestone kitchen and marble bathrooms? There will be, if there isn't already, an entire industry designed to prey on the bag-holders to help them liquidate their vacant properties at bargain-basement prices. The people who can't afford to ride out the downturn will be crying.

It's interesting to see evidence of abstract economics right next door to my house. It's less fun to read the Times article called something like, "Keep Renting For Another Year," but even that is somehow okay. I guess what I'm really after is confirmation that we made a smart choice, that we won't be among those who have to go begging to make the next mortgage payment. As long as I'm on the right side of that line then I can observe the phenomenon.

It's not romantic, though – I couldn't turn it into a good story. I couldn't write dramatically about people who can't make their mortgage payments. About people living in a haunted house, yes. If their 5-year-old son is communing with flying demons at night, yes. If the husband finds mason jars full of preserved ears in the walled-in closet, yes. But finances? No thank you, John.