a year since i’ve been home
A year ago tonight I was taking busted IKEA furniture and stacks of old magazines down to the dumpsters at the apartment complex where I used to live. Around 10pm, my ex and I handed our keys over to the apartment’s new tenants and drove the final carloads of stuff over to this house. One of my roommates was already here, and had been all evening. She told us about all the trick-or-treaters she’d turned away. After scarfing down some sort of junk food, I made a hasty decision to go out and try to make something of my Halloween. This ended up with me sitting in a bar alone, completely wiped out and lost in my own hopeful/terrified thoughts.
When we all moved in, there was no shower, there was no central heat, the roof leaked, the walls were unsheetrocked and uninsulated. It was cold and dirty and unpleasant. At first, it felt like it could only get better. For a while, it did. But where I am right now is not where I was picturing myself back then.
I live alone now, except for my dog and cat. I work on the house alone, I pay the bills, I take the trash out. It feels like I’m doing it for no one, because I have got to admit that I’ve mostly stopped caring. I want the remodeling done so I can get out of here. I loved this house and I had such big plans for it, but it is not a house for a single person. It sure as hell isn’t a house for a single person without a pickup truck.
The frustration of inhabiting half a home is crazy-making. I live in the kitchen, I sleep in the littlest bedroom in a twin bed. Aside from the bathroom and the laundry room, the rest of the house is just a giant space full of heavy sadness and unrealized potential, a bunch of extra steps between where I am and where I need to go. And I let it all go to shit. Dust bunnies pile up in the corners and I don’t sweep them up because of the construction items in the way. Everything is still in boxes, disorganized, hastily yanked out and thrown all over the floor when I need to find something, then piled back in, never where I found it. It’s no way to fucking live. If I could find the motivation to just get done with some of it, not just the house but life would improve dramatically. The motivation isn’t there, though. The things I get passionate now are all work-related, binary and easily controlled. I go out when I know I should be staying in scraping floors.
It used to be that I could picture very clearly a gorgeous white vintage-toned bathroom and walls in oceanic colors with bright white trim. Now I’m consumed by thoughts of what it would be like to come home to a warm house with a big clean bed and a small, tidy kitchen. I feel like no matter what I do, even if all the remodeling does get done, this house will never be that. It will always be too much, and I’ll always be some person just keeping it warm(ish) for the large family who should actually live here.
I don’t mean to make it sound dire. I’ve been pretty busy with other projects and diversions, but the floors are coming along. A bathtub is on its way from Nevada, though I haven’t yet figured out how I’ll get it into the house. I’ve decided I’ll probably tile the master bathroom myself, just so I’m not working around someone else’s schedule. Once the bathtub arrives and the plumbing gets roughed in, I can do that. I have a quote for refinishing the floors once the linoleum’s off, and I hope that by the end of the year there will be no more gaping, drafty holes in them and finally something in this house will be both original and beautiful again. I’m trying to make a decision about the master closet. I’m scared that if I attach shelves and rods to the wall I built there, it will come crashing down, taking with it the laundry room’s plumbing, electricity, and gas lines. I haven’t done the little, easy things, like painting the trim in the existing bathroom. After going so long without caulk, I’m not convinced I won’t have to rip all of it out and start over. But it doesn’t smell like mold, so hopefully I have more time.
The truth is still that, as in all things, anything house-related is doable given the right combination of time, effort, and money. But the enthusiasm for actually doing what needs done has very nearly left me. It feels like an eternity since I’ve come home to a home, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. I do still love my house, but the pragmatic, exhausted part of me wishes to hell I hadn’t bought it.