Ed Parker, 62Landlord, Former Commercial Driver
Moved from: Bed-Stuy
So my house wound up in foreclosure. I’ve had attorneys working on it for six years. It’s like you’re in a guillotine, waiting for the blade to drop.
My parents were from the South. Her uncle, who owned this house, brought her up here when she was 17. After he died, we moved in. When we came over here, I was about 10. I made friends, friends made me. There were two boys who lived down the block. When I first met them I was sitting on this curb on Patchen Avenue, crying, because my father was struggling with alcoholism. These two boys wanted to know why I was crying and then console me.
We stayed friends until I became a missionary and nobody knew where I went. They already thought I was a little weird. I was walking around in my bare feet and this robe in the summertime. I wanted to be a hippie. You see a picture of Moses or Jesus, in those robes, I kind of liked the image that Jesus gave — a sage, walking around and talking about the things, the wisdom that you have.
The block thought I was weird. And they told me on a regular basis. But they didn’t ostracize me. I still played with them; they played with me. Who is that walking around in the summertime in their bare feet? Oh, that’s Parker. But also, “Parker, where’s the party?” I was throwing a lot of house parties in the basement. My mother’d have these little decorative plastic lamps on chains. It was a ball. We’d do cookouts. We cut out a little hole in the basement wall so we could put up a strobe light.
By the time I was in my senior year of high school, I was hooking school two weeks at a time. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I went back to college, Long Island University. Then I got mentally ill and thought, Oh, I don’t belong here, I’m a fraud. After my mother died in 1999, I really crashed and burned. I had to get psychic medication. And I’m still on it. Depression and anxiety.
It’s been a progression of things that brought me to this point [of foreclosure]. I was talked into taking out a mortgage by a person who turned out to be a predatory lender. I refinanced four times after that. My mortgage rate went from 4 percent to 11 percent. I was paying $5,600 a month for a mortgage. I tried to do a loan modification, but it fell through.
I needed five surgeries, and because I didn’t have health insurance, the surgeries got delayed and the problems got worse. My wife was under a new stress seeing me like that. She left me. My wife and my little girl are gone, I haven’t seen them in years. I haven’t even spoken to them. All the things I defined myself by, I was losing. I was a father and a husband, I lost my little girl and my wife. I was a homeowner, my house was in foreclosure. I lost my job. Now who am I?
Eventually I was able to get my health insurance back, and I had five surgeries, replacing all my ball and socket joints, including the hips and the shoulders. Then I became a Christian missionary. Do you know Francis of Assisi? Saint Francis would chastise his body. If he used words he didn’t want to use, he’d put rocks in his mouth. Very extreme stuff. I started doing this. In the part of the mountains we were in, the mountain would freeze at night. And I would go and take almost all of my clothes off. And I would stay out all night, praying. I would get into the cold shower, and if the water wasn’t cold enough I would get out and fill the tub with ice. If you’ve ever felt that your prayers could be more sincere, get in a tub of ice water and see how sincere your prayers get right away.
Ten years ago, a house down the block went for $1 million. I thought that was incredible. Last week, I found out that a house across the street went for one-point-five. So my house may not be underwater anymore. I’m putting feelers out; I’m going to start showing the house. I owe $800,000. I need to get a million to get out. The attorneys told me that it would be about a year before I’d have to move, so maybe by the spring. How do I deal with losing stuff? I’ve been in such a habit of defining myself by my loss.