Monday, August 3, 2009

Two words: we won

This is a bit late.

Most of you know already but for history's sake, a week ago today I was in my living room. An insurance adjuster was on our roof, about to tell me that the hail damage from the July 20 storm destroyed our two-year-old roof and that we need a new one.

I was idly checking my email messages on my phone.

Then I saw one that said this in the subject line:

Congratulations from HomeAway! First Runner-Up Winner for $5,000 prize

I don't think I took a breath for a few minutes as I read the message, again and again, within a 90 second span of time.

Then I cried. That joyous, fast, sort of tearless, hysterical crying. Then the tears came and I started to breathe very quickly.

The email said I couldn't tell anyone, not until we had signed, notarized and returned the documents and the other winners had done the same. I called one of the phone numbers listed and left an entirely embarassing voicemail, weeping, and trying to talk, to ask if I could tell my husband.

I got permission. And then, he wasn't available.

When he works in the shop at his job, there is no cell phone coverage and it's so loud he can't hear the pages from reception.

It was a long 3 hours til I reached him. He did not believe it, and then called me back a little later and sounded drunk, asking me again if it was really true.

Then it was officially announced.

It's interesting how quickly we can assimilate some events, and then, have a helluva time comprehending the related other parts.

For example, I can tell you that as I write this, I still can't really believe that we won. We won. I responded to an email that arrived in my inbox and wrote 500 words about us, and then asked everyone I knew to ask everyone they knew to vote, and it worked and we won. We won. I know it intellectually, but on a very basic level, it's surreal and strange and feels like someone else won.

On the other hand, just because I am living in a surreal world has not prevented me from contacting several property owners on Homeaway's site to inquire as to the availability of their home. Since I have about 4 hours of vacation time (I earn 12 hours every month), The Vacation, as it will be called, will occur in April or May, 2010 (we have until August 2010 to use the prize).

Where? Not the place we picked originally, the Canary Islands. First, Brody has a fear of water that I was not aware of when I wrote the entry. He refuses to go into the pool unless it's the 3 inch deep kiddie pool, and will barely take a bath. Second, the airfare to the Canary Islands is very expensive.

Which led me to traipse around the world on Homeaway, (a very excellent way to pass the time, if you haven't tried it), and find a little 12th century village called Villefranche-sur-mer, in the south of France, with a swimming beach, views of the Mediterranean sea,

trains to take people 15 minutes away to Italy and Monaco, and boats to take people to Corsica. We can walk to the patisserie in the morning, and get our bread from the boulangerie. It's very family-friendly, too, with nearby water parks, national parks, and castles, and fortresses to explore. This is a photograph of La Rue Obscure, which is the oldest road in Villefranche-sur-mer, built in the 12th century to give shelter and protection to its inhabitants.
In nearby Antibes, I recently discovered, I can stand where Vincent Van Gogh stood to paint my favorite piece of art of all time. . .

With any luck, this will be our terrace.
I am filled with joy and gratitude to Homeaway. Yes, I understand it they did it for marketing purposes, but the result is the same. Joy and gratitude.

The people I have dealt with at Homeaway have each been kind and supportive and so happy for us. I wrote to one of them to thank them:
The gift you've given us is not just the trip; it was feeling the love and support of family, friends and then strangers while we watched the voting; it was the cheers, squeals and giggles i heard when I told my husband,(he didn't squeal), sisters, mom, and friends that we had won; it's seeing my coworkers get choked up when I told them the news; and it's the anticipation and fun of planning a vacation with the two people I love most in this world, and knowing that whatever else happens, we will have this beautiful memory of an adventure that we never thought we'd be able to have.

And do you know what this person responded? An email full of kindness, which exemplifies everything good about Homeaway:
I’d say you’re welcome, but it doesn’t exactly describe the range of my sentiments. I am so happy for you - as are my co-workers for that matter - that I feel like I won myself..... I wish for you that you never forget that feeling which you spoke of, the realization that so many people love and care for you. That’s not exactly something I or anyone at HomeAway can take credit for—it’s something you brought on yourself. But if the contest helped you see it more clearly, well, fine by me.:-)


AnonMom said...


THRILLED for you!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am so happy. You will have a wonderful time and not have to put a toe into deep water.

Hef said...

Why must you make me go off and cry once AGAIN?!


I'm seriously so happy for you guys- you REALLY do deserve it.

And, omg, what an awesome letter you received from the homeaway peeps. So, so cool.

SaRaH said...

I love Homeaway almost as much as I love you.

Not really.

But still a lot.

B said...

Oh wow! That is AWESOME! Congrats on winning!

feitpingvin said...

Late April/early May should be great for southern France. You're at the start of the nice warm weather season, but it will be too early for the regular tourist season.

As for your vacation time... 12 hours a month = 144 hours a year... is that work hours (based on an 8 hour day) for 18 work days a year?

Jacque said...

Now I'm all teary. Congratulations again!

Alina said...

Oh my goodness! I'm behind the times. Congratulations that's so amazing and wonderful and deserved! I wish I could pack myself in your luggage. Please take us all along by posting tons of photos!