So I read the following passage today at a friend-of-a-friend’s blog:

Sometimes I am so excited to marry him that I can barely contain it. Every day it seems my love for him grows – as I learn more about him; as I learn more about myself. Sometimes I wonder who I was outside the scope of him.

And the first thought I had, after I managed to choke back the nausea, was:

“Man. It’s all I can do not to stab Jack with a screwdriver sometimes.”

You know, I seldom write directly about Jack, because I adore him, and I don’t want to be one of those women that runs to her 10 billion closest friends on the Internet to complain every time we have a fight. But I tell you what – restoring this old house has been the deal-breaker that I never thought it would be when we embarked on it.

Planning our wedding has been easier. By far.

Two weeks ago, we were in Lowe’s. We had been in Lowe’s for two hours. Everyone’s patience and budget was a little stretched at this point (including: me, Jack, the woman who mixes the paint, the man who makes keys, and the other man who was quietly shelving tile, minding his own business, when I descended upon him and started asking all sorts of questions whose answers could have been found if I had, you know, done ANY RESEARCH AT ALL before entering Lowe’s).

And I was complaining about how I didn’t want cheap white ceramic tile in the bathroom, because we already have cheap white ceramic tile in the bathroom, and I didn’t want to rip up that tile to replace it with the same damn thing, even if it was only $2.99 a square foot. Fuck that noise.

To which Jack said, and I quote:
“I think your aristocratic upbringing has skewed your view of tile.”

Those exact words. All of the sudden, time went into slow motion like an Abbott and Costello movie – “Slowly I turned…step by step…inch by inch…”

And then I excused myself to go chain-smoke in the car before I committed homicide with a near-by socket wrench.

This is just a day in the life. We took down the wallpaper in the bathroom (which I really should have saved a scrap of, for posterity’s sake) to discover that the reason the owner had hastily wallpapered it in the first place was because the sheet rock was crumbling.

We took up the tile in the downstairs bathroom to discover that the hardwood floor had been replaced by rotting plywood.

When we removed the sink cabinet, which was slapped together and already leaning on a drunken tilt, we discovered that there is no wall behind the sink. Only a large hole leading to the basement.

Which is about the point where I started laughing hysterically like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit when the bathtub falls through the floor. This is also the point at which we took up screaming, “THE HOUSE IS GONNA BE GREAT!” at each other when one of us started to have an emotional breakdown.

Actually, to be fair, I’m the only one having the emotional breakdowns. Jack is completely convinced everything can be fixed with a power saw and some love. I’m learning to use the power saw so that, when the floorboards in the kitchen finally cave and I fall into the basement, I can use it to saw Jack’s remains into pieces and bury them in the backyard…

…I kid, I kid! Ha ha…hah.

And you know, we could have moved into a nice house that already had kitchen cabinets. We would have, if I had any say in the matter, but the house was here before me, and so here we are. Embarking on An Adventure! Home Depot Ahoy, Matey!

Also, to be fair, I have become so disgusted by the entire thing that I sit around in my Ralph Lauren bathrobe in the study, drinking iced tea and writing, while Jack does complicated things with wiring and plumbing that I don’t really understand. He is a saint, this way. The man stayed up until 4 a.m. painting all the baseboards white because I complained that they looked like someone had vomited upon them sometime in the mid 1970s. He is great. Fantastic. Too good for me, in this instance, really.

But things are becoming livable. We got new windows – ones that actually open! I can now plug in my hairdryer and a clock at the same time without blowing all the lights out in the house, if I keep the setting on “low.” The upstairs bathroom is no longer leaking into the kitchen downstairs. All the rooms are painted, and all the hardwood is in excellent shape except for the kitchen and downstairs bath.

My mother came up in June, and saw this house for the first time, before we had even lifted a paintbrush. It was a surprise visit, or else I would have found some way to head it off at the pass. As we pulled up to the front, she exclaimed, “Oh, Lily Beth, I love it!” Cause the front is deceiving – from the street, it looks like an adorable, large cross between a Victorian and a Cape Cod. It’s painted light blue. It has stained glass, a side porch, and a curvy little walkway.

Inside, it is The Seventh Circle of Hell. Obviously, I’m a little touchy about it.

As we toured the house, I watched her face fall more and more with each room. “It needs a lot of work,” she kept saying. “A lot of work.”

And then as we were leaving and I was thoroughly feeling like a failure, just for having fallen in love with a man attached to such a large, rumbling fix-er-upper, my mother said, “But you know, your Daddy and I lived in the Flats the first year we were married. In a tiny little apartment. We didn’t have a table, so we ate off T.V. trays. I had to go down the street to do my laundry. We would have loved to have this house. We would have given our right arm, in fact, to have a house like this.”

And you know what? Lots of people would. I have single girlfriends sharing tiny apartments with as many as five people, just to make ends meet. I have married friends renting astronomically priced apartments with no air conditioning and roach infestations.

And at night, when I pull up outside, and all the lights are on, you can see into the stairwell through the big parlor windows. And I see that warm, wood staircase, and all those family portraits hanging above it, and the china hutch by the foyer with all my mother’s crisp, white china in it. And two little sets of triangles – the dog’s ears – peaking at me through the windows, over the tops of the hedge.

And I am home.

The house is gonna be great.

  1. Ula says:

    This is great info to know.

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