Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The House


It's six-thirty and the guy who came to install new windows in the kitchen, the laundry room, and my bedroom at eleven this morning is still here, still pounding away at something or other. I was hoping to get to the gym today, but clearly that's not going to happen.

And in many ways, this is just the start of it all. New bathroom, new powder room, new kitchen, the place painted inside and out, new floors. (Yes! I will have new floors! No matter what my brother thinks! The stained awful plastic carpet of a shade of blue that calls out for white french provincial furniture to be placed upon it must go. I will have cork and bamboo, dammit!)

For the last couple of days, I've been tossing a thought around in my head like a frisbee: maybe I'll delay putting the house on the market until next year. What's the rush? Maybe I'll spend a year living here, enjoying the place I've fixed up.

Per the current rules, I'm doing nothing with this thought, taking no action whatsoever. It's just a thought. Sometimes when it arises, it's quickly dismissed. Sometimes I'll sit with it for a while, noticing how it makes me feel.

But it makes me nervous. Design has proved to be my heroin indeed. If I wasn't trapped here all day with the guy installing the new windows, I'd have been off looking for a new lighting fixture for the kitchen. Because his keeping me here gave me time to reflect, I realized that I don't need a new lighting fixture for the kitchen.

At least not yet anyway.

I worry that being in this house means spending money on this house. There's always some new thing to tweak and, I hope, make better. But if I stay in the house too long, I won't have enough money to leave it.

Perhaps this is my father's ghost haunting me. Or the same ghost that haunted my father now haunting me.

He retired early from his job so he could work here at home. That meant planting and transplanting, painting, chopping down trees, cleaning the gutters, replacing the gutters, watering the lawn, building the tractor shed, digging pits around the basement windows... It was more than a full time job. My father resented being anywhere other than home, but especially on a "good day to get work done."

And lately, I know just how he felt. And working in America's Home Improvement Super Store sure doesn't help matters much. There I'll be, stopped dead in my tracks while I'm escorting a customer to where we have the plate hanging wire thingys over in Aisle 32 by the huge savings we're offering on Garage Storage Solutions.

For example, on Friday, I'm looking forward to painting the basement.

Let me repeat that: On Friday, I'm looking forward to painting the basement.

See what I mean?

I didn't say "playing softball" or "heading to the Eagle" or "hitting the beach" or "putting my kayak in the water for the first time this season," I said "painting the basement.

It will look beautiful. All clean and new and tidy.

And if there's time left over, I'll square up and rehang the screen doors on the front porch.

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