Community - September 7, 2011

Barbara Wood's Dispatches from the home front: It takes a village to empty a nest

For the first time in 25 years my husband and I have no children in our house, and it would not have happened without the help of our friends, relatives and neighbors.

My daughters have always loved to tease their brother, our middle child, probably because he's never been overly ambitious.

At one point Riley's stated goal in life was to be a character at Disneyland, part-time, while sharing an apartment with five or six friends.

At the end of eighth grade, when assigned to write an essay that might be read on stage at graduation, Riley tried to write something that would never be chosen. His essay, comparing life to a bucket of fried chicken, was too hilarious to not win, though. Riley was handed a bucket of fried chicken by the superintendent after he read it.

For a few years in high school Riley wanted to go to Chico State, since he'd heard it was a party school. When admitted to Chico, however, he decided on San Francisco State instead, since his best friend since nursery school would be there.

Riley found a major he thought was easy, technical and professional writing, and graduated in four-and-a-half years. He moved back home the last semester.

Riley didn't get his driver's license until he was 22, when he needed to commute to a summer internship.

Six months after graduation, Riley found a paid internship as a technical writer, through the friend of a friend of his parents. Since there was no guarantee the job would last, Riley continued living at home for nearly a year until hired as a regular employee. He said he wanted his own place so he could have a faster Internet connection and a big screen television.

And that's when the village really came in handy. I asked a good friend, a real estate agent, if Riley could afford to buy a condo near his job in Sunnyvale by living at home another year. She asked how much of a loan he could qualify for; so my nephew, a loan broker in Oregon, began investigating.

It turned out, thanks to the real estate collapse, Riley could actually buy a condo for about what he'd pay for rent, with the money he'd already saved the last year as the down payment.

The deal-breaker seemed to be, however, that since Riley had no credit history, a government-insured loan was all he qualified for and few condo complexes near his work qualified for those loans. But my nephew knew townhouses qualify on their own and Riley soon found a foreclosed one-bedroom townhouse only 10 minutes from his work to buy.

As the close of escrow neared I posted Riley's need for furniture on a local website. The response was overwhelming and within two weeks, Riley had been given a sectional sofa, floor lamps, TV stands, a dining set, ottoman, chairs, everything needed to furnish his kitchen, outdoor furniture and a propane grill, and even floor lamps. One trip to IKEA and one to Target completed his furnishings without overdrawing his bank account, with enough left over to buy a flat screen television.

So thank you everyone for helping Riley find a job, find a loan, find a condo and furnish it, and move him in. We are a little lonely around here, but I know I have a nice place to visit in Santa Clara any time I want.

Barbara Wood is a freelance writer, photographer and gardener from Woodside. Her column runs the third week of the month.


Posted by Catherine Lyman, a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Glad to be a part of the great migration! I often think that we should help and be helped by community more. It is enriching for all. When first married, my boss at the time offered me furniture for our apartment. What a godsend to a first-year teacher and a grad student. We enjoyed the furniture for years, then passed it on. Thanks for sharing your family story.

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