2012 was a difficult year. Most of 2010 & 2011 weren’t exactly a walk in the park but I still made half an attempt at blogging. But 2012… 2012 was different. 2012 was coming to terms with the finality of ending the longest relationship of my life, dealing with & removing a c-word of a housemate (sorry Mom but she was) and – perhaps the most complicated – trying to figure out what the house is now.
Of course the house is still a house. But it’s different. My relationship with it is different.
The house was bought in 2009 as a home. A home full of hopes & dreams & a future. It was a project Rob (my former husband & best friend) & I were going to do together. Make “ours.” There were plans for what each room would be – the 2nd floor back bedroom was to be a den/music/TV room; it’s now a guest room & full of displaced kitchen stuff. It was so natural for “us” to have projects and talk about what “we” were going to do to X, Y, or Z. Dream. Plan. Do together.
That’s all changed. From “us” & “we” to “me” & “I”. And that’s been hard.
It changed my relationship with these 4 walls. It went from being “our home” to “my house.” I live here but it didn’t feel so much like home.
Keeping the house has never been a question. I am keeping the house.
But what is our future – the house & I? That’s what I’m struggling with.
Am I renovating to live here fulltime? Alone? With housemates? Will I move out and rent it fulltime? Live here fulltime and raise kids here?
The answers to those questions affect how to renovate. Case in point – I’m renovating the kitchen (yes; still). I LOVE the idea of a pot filler. I think it would be handy and easy. If I live here forever, I’d love to have one.
But, if I end up renting it out to a bunch of college students (the local demographic), I wouldn’t want them accidentally leaving the pot filler running and flood the kitchen.
I’m not putting in a pot filler. And that’s just the superficial, easy stuff.
The bedroom at the back of the 3rd floor, right off the master bedroom was going to be saved and used for nursery. Womp womp. Won’t be needing that anytime soon.
Inherently, I’m a partner person. Try as I might to fight it (and I fight it hard), I need a partner. And maybe that’s what makes everything with the house so hard. I don’t have a partner. It’s MY house. It’s MY call.
That’s not to say I don’t have help with the house. I’m blessed to have lots of help (Thankfully! Gratefully!). Lots of help but, at the end of the day, it’s still only mine.
I used to think, “Whatever you want. It’s your house,” would be liberating and empowering.
I want it to be liberating and empowering. I’m working towards making it liberating and empowering.
But it’s not. Not yet.
“Whatever you want. It’s your house,” is heavy and sad. It’s full of responsibility and obligation. So many “have to’s” instead of “want to’s”.
- I have to fix the iron railing & newel posts out front.
- I have to replace the rotted wood arch above the stoop.
- I have to scrape the peeling paint from the stoop surround and above the front windows and around the windows.
- I have to repaint everything.
- I have to fix the hole in the cement at the bottom of steps.
These “have to’s” are coming from the city. The City of Newark is taking me to court because they don’t like the way the front of my house looks. Well, to be specific, I’ve already been to court. I have to go back at the end of February to show I’m making progress.
I – apparently – “live in a nice area” of the city and the way it currently looks is unacceptable to the powers that be. Never mind the dilapidated, bombed-out-looking buildings that I can see from my bedroom window. My peeling paint is a blight on the neighborhood. /sarcasm
Which means that the front of my house is taking priority over not having a kitchen. Yes. The city is putting my peeling paint over not having a dishwasher. And we all know how I feel about having a dishwasher.
But some “have to’s” are just because I “have to.”
- I have to fix the roof so it stops leaking around the skylight. The plaster is falling off the ceiling.
- I have to make sure I’ve actually gotten rid of the rats that used to keep my Garden Unit tenant awake at night. (True story. Yuck.)
- I have to finally find time to work on and finish my kitchen. Which I demoed in June. Of 2012.
To be clear, 2012 wasn’t all bad. I traveled a lot. I worked a lot. I’m trying to be a better friend to the few friends I have left. But the house took a back seat while I tried to figure out where we were going. We’re on weird ground, the house & I.
I only completed 1 major house project in 2012 and that was the 2nd floor bathroom of last January. That renovation started as a futile attempt at making the housemate thing work out. While having a housemate didn’t work out, I’m glad to have a beautiful bathroom. Even if it is still sandwiched between awful blood-red walls and yellow trim.
So. I’ve been moving on. Slowly working my way toward liberation and empowerment.
I’m choosing to see a city-mandated reshuffling of priorities as a good thing. It took me a long time to come to that realization. In fact, I only got there as I’m writing this post.
And you know what I JUST realized?
The house won’t look the same as it did in 2009. It will look better.
- The newel posts won’t dangle.
- The rust & paint won’t be flaking off.
- There will be a gate. A real gate, down to the Garden Unit!
- Rotten wood will be replaced and things will be rebuilt.
- There will be fresh paint and a whole new look.
Perhaps all of these imposed “have to’s” are really just the universe giving the house it’s break-up haircut. That visual change signaling a new beginning. The radical difference people notice and comment on. (For the record, I’m a fan of the post break-up haircut. I went with a cropped pixie cut in 2010.)
I was feeling forced, obligated, annoyed, and a little resentful towards all of these things I “have to” do. But, ok House, I get it. A fresh look to start our next chapter. I think it’s a great idea.
This is my house. This is my home. And I want to.