In the summer of 2003 I bought my first home, at townhouse-style condo where I still live today. It’s an end unit with a private yard backing up to woods. I totally lucked out on the location and the price. Actually, the whole thing had an element of magic to it. I remember my first meeting with the realtor. My best friend, Deb, came with me for moral support. The realtor told us he would meet us at the condo. He pulled up in a shiny vintage car from the 1950s. I don’t know a lot about old cars, but it looked to be in mint condition. When he stepped out of the car, all I could think is that he reminded me of Christopher Lloyd’s character, “Doc Brown” from Back to the Future. He was lanky, with wild gray-white hair and a big smile. He shouted out a hearty “Hello!” I immediately liked him.
“Doc” gave us a tour of the condo. After seeing several condos over the past weeks, I was pleasantly surprised. Although it was a bit dated, the rooms were large and airy. I could definitely see the potential past the 80s-style paint colors. The master bedroom had three walls painted hunter green, one wall painted a Pepto- Bismol pink, topped with a wallpaper border. Oy! The other bedroom wasn’t much better, but at least it was spacious. After the tour we sat at the kitchen table and chatted for a while. I told him a little about my story and he told me a little about his. I can’t tell you exactly what I said because I don’t remember. I was so nervous that I felt like I had flown out of my body. This was the biggest purchase I had ever considered and I could feel the blood rushing to my head.
For whatever reason “Doc”, who happened to be a good friend of the seller’s, did the oddest thing: he actually negotiated the price down after hearing I was a single mom. I’m not sure why he cared, I only knew he really wanted me and my daughter to have the condo. He even said he wasn’t going to show the condo to anyone else until I decided. It was a huge Divine Breadcrumb — one of the biggest of my life. As Deb and I drove off, she turned to me and said “I’ve never seen anything like it. He represents the seller but there he was trying to get the price down for you!” It was truly crazy-in the best way! For the remainder of the car ride home Deb and I chatted excitedly about the possibilities.
I made an offer which was accepted quickly. I was very excited and also very overwhelmed. Here I was a single mom, moving to a brand-new town, getting my daughter enrolled in a new school and learning about being a homeowner. It all felt so big, so grown up. I was totally out of my element. The first few weeks after the closing were a blur of 40- minute trips back and forth from my apartment to the condo. I would go to the condo after a long day of work and it was exhausting. Thankfully my daughter, Chloe, was away at summer camp. Deb and her then partner (now wife) also named Deb, came to the condo and we all spent countless hours removing wallpaper, scrubbing walls, priming and painting. Thank God for the Debs or I never would have been able to finish. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired. It wasn’t just the physical work and what seemed like a five hundred trips to Home Depot — I was mentally drained.
Chloe came home from camp a few weeks before school started. She was nervous about starting a new school. It’s not easy to start the 7th grade in a new town, but she was a trooper. She helped getting everything packed for moving day. Just my luck, moving day just happened to be one of the most hot and humid days of the summer. Moving is stressful enough, but add heat and humidity to the equation and it’s a recipe for a really crappy day. I should have been grateful for a new start, but let’s just say this all happened pre-Divine Breadcrumb awareness and I wasn’t in that head-space yet. I pretty much bitched and moaned the entire day. Poor Chloe! The next few days were a haze of breaking down boxes, putting things away and feeling strange in this new place called home. It was surreal!
On the second or third day in the new home, Chloe and I ended up going out for lunch. I didn’t know the area very well yet, but I knew there was a Subway in town. We headed there, still tired from unpacking and cleaning. As we approached the Subway counter, we noticed a display case, containing all the bread choices. Each bread was labeled with a sticker on the outside of the case. Chloe placed her order first. I wasn’t paying attention, so understand that the following info came to me after the fact. “I’ll have the turkey sandwich.” The girl across the counter said “What kind of bread would you like?” Chloe glanced at the aforementioned display case. “Italian wheat.” The girl looked confused. “I’m sorry, which bread did you want?” Chloe repeated herself: “Italian wheat.” Again, the girl looked confused. “I’m sorry” she said “but it’s either Italian OR wheat.” Chloe laughed and said “Oh the labels are so close together it looked like “Italian wheat.” Chloe laughed but the girl across the counter didn’t seem to see the humor in it.
It was now my turn. I ordered a roast beef sub. “What kind of bread do you want?” Without skipping a beat, I said “Italian Wheat.” Like mother like daughter. The girl looked perplexed and slightly annoyed. Chloe whispered in my ear “Mom she just told me that’s not a choice. It’s either one or the other.” I don’t know why I cared, but I could feel my cheeks get hot. It was so embarrassing and so ridiculous. As soon as Chloe and I got in the car we both burst out laughing and continued laughing all the way home. That was 15 years ago and we still refer to embarrassing moments as “Italian Wheat” moments. We have “Italian-wheated” our way all over the USA — airports, restaurants, during vacations — you name it. The funniest part is that now my close friends know the term and include it in their own vernacular.
“Italian wheat” moments make for great stories, but they also serve a different purpose. For me they are an indicator that I’m not grounded. They show me I need to get focused (or get more sleep!). Think about your own “Italian Wheat” moments. I’m guessing a lot of them came out of a situation where you were not paying attention, or you weren’t feeling “present.” It happens to all of us! But when it does, take a deep breath, become present, and above all else, laugh at yourself!