After feeling like we had to sell our mothers to gypsies in order to even buy a house in the Greater Boston area, (the first home out of four that we bid on in this brutal Boston winter had 14 other offers on it), and after getting through the massive amounts of superfluous paperwork for the bank, we are now being introduced to the joys of home ownership.
When one rents an apartment, and this may just be me, if there is a hole in the wall it’s usually best to just find the nearest piece of artwork/poster/tapestry and just throw that shit over it, right? I’ve been known to grab plates for the same purpose; perhaps even a well-appointed plant. (Those did not exist in my home alive until I moved in with B, mind you). Now that we own though, we feel obligated to fill and spackle every damn hole and actually find the ideal placement for every wall hanging. Annoyingly, we can’t seem to get the steps of any process complete without a period of several days going by and multiple trips to Home Depot. And no matter how many times I go in there, I am completely mystified about where to find anything and, much to the husband’s dismay, I have to bother every employee I can find on the floor of the store. I am completely missing the handy gene. The entire canon of my carpentry and home repair knowledge can be boiled down to the phrase; “Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” which a friend’s father once taught me. My own mathemetician father has earned the title “Captain Theory of Relativity” among his friends in part because of his tendency to call the repairman when a lightbulb goes out. Thankfully, B knows the difference between a phillips head and whatever the other screwdriver is called… along with a lot of other basics I can’t claim to ever have any interest in learning. He's already saved the day a few times.
Our third night in the new place, we had mattress adventures, and not the good kind. After the movers couldn’t get our box spring up the stairwell, we had to wait for a split box spring to be delivered. In the meantime, our bedframe had already been assembled and there wasn’t much floor space for the mattress, so B took extra planks from the guestbed to support the mattress on the bedframe. This worked for the entire weekend until Sunday night of course, because that was obviously when we had to get a good night’s sleep for work the next day.
At 3am, the planks nearest our heads started loudly falling out from underneath us. Next thing I know, I’m groggily sitting on the floor while B is like a car mechanic sliding under the bed with a flashlight. He’s able to fix it and we crawl gingerly back into bed. At 4:30, they fall again. This time, I yell; “Screw it! Just roll over and go back to sleep!” When we wake in the morning, our feet are so far above our heads, which are practically on the floor as part of some sort of weird reverse-acid-reflux position. B had a stroke of brilliance later that day, when he took my car’s brand new jack and propped up the frame. This did the trick.
My main problem right now, is that when I come home after my office job, I have all these unrealistic expectations about what the husband can accomplish while he’s home for the summer from his teaching year. He just is way more detail-oriented than I am. Inevitably, I walk into the foyer every day to see that two blaringly dingy doors with actual holes in them have not been touched, while the husband gives me a proud smile about the third coat of trim touch-ups he did in the upstairs hallway. I assure you, I never would have noticed the difference, but perhaps in the long run, slow and steady, the details will make a difference for resale.
None of this, however, goes along with my fantasy of returning home every night and eating bon-bons on the couch. In fact, we are still waiting for our living room couch because of course, I ordered it custom. I think B died a little inside when he heard me tell the consultant at Jordan’s that I was “looking for an English rolled arm.” I think, and he agrees, that I was spectacular at negotiating a couple thousand off my last car. I sure don’t care about many car features, but when it comes to things like furniture, that lady had my number so fast she probably could see the virtual commission amount before her eyes. Oh well. Our last sofa cost less than a small dog and is sitting in the basement collapsing slowly. This new fancy one will hopefully hold up for more than three years… One of the myriad choices we had to make on this piece was whether we wanted detached or semi-detached back cushions. In response, we stared perplexedly at the sales lady. “It’s got to be either detached or not detached, no?” said B. The woman paused and said; “You can make forts with the detached cushions.” Sold.
Also, when you buy a new place, you must gird your loins for everyone who comes through to speak his or her mind. When the house and decor are still in flux, people go: "Yilch, that light fixture! I mean... unless you like it and want to keep it?" I recall a story about my aunt heading to her daughter's house and giving my uncle a pep talk about how they weren't going to say anything about the decor this time. They were going to bite their tongues. When they walked into the front hallway, they nearly got whiplash because just the ceiling had been painted. My uncle's first words were; "Well, that's brothel red."
I think my proudest success on the house so far has been our half bath off the kitchen. It’s the room in the house that is nearest completion and that may well be because it’s the smallest. We painted it a deep peacock/teal and it looks smashing against the white trim, like a little jewel box. And our critics agree. Our friends came over this weekend and their three year old boy said; “What a beautiful bathroom!” He’s welcome back anytime.