Until 30 minutes later when you notice that the spot of water has returned, despite no one having been in the kitchen in the interim. And you will then look at the floor perplexed for about three seconds, until you realize you are going to look up and see a leaky ceiling. Which you do.
So then you call your husband into the kitchen to point out the leak to him – because he is male and will want to fix the problem instead of wanting to go shopping and have it magically fix itself – and he will immediately get on a chair to examine, up close, how much damage has been done and realize the answer is "a lot" when his hand goes directly through the ceiling and water and plaster come pouring out on top of him, the chair, the table, the floor, you, and the dog.
And you will not say it aloud because you do not want to rain – ha, ha – on your own parade, but you realize right at that very moment how much you hate being a homeowner.
But it will get worse before it gets better and when it's all over you will realize not only do you not want to be a homeowner, you don't even want to be married.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It has nothing to do with anyone but me. I just married too early and took on too much too early and all for the wrong reasons and while I thought it was what I wanted, it wasn't. I could never get it to fit quite right.
A lot of the time I was happy enough. Bored out of my skull, sure, but I loved my husband and did my best to find ways to make everything seem more interesting. I spent a lot of time on crafty projects, and did my best to decorate a big house on a moderate budget and zero experience. But my family all lived out of state, and we had almost no friends because that's what happens when you're young and married and living in the suburbs and don't have kids.
So did I mention? With the boring?
I am going to make a stupid analogy involving…um…let's try shoes. (Consider it an homage to the silver sparkly flip-flops I'm wearing today.) (Everyone should have sparkly shoes.) Ready?
Sometimes you walk past a store window and you see a pair of shoes you love. And you go into the store and you try them on and they are the right price and the right style and they fit! Almost! But Almost! is awesome because the shoes are darling and you have to have them and Almost! might very soon translate into Broken-In and PERFECT. So you buy them. And you wear them all the time, even though they're still slightly uncomfortable, because you know that if you just hold out for one more day of walking, they will finally look and feel the way you want them to. Because they have to because they are so damn cute.How was that? Do we like that metaphor? Because here's where the metaphor takes us:
But then one day, after having tried band-aids and cotton and cushions and gel inserts and even going so far as to try and change how you walk, you look down at your darling shoes and realize they are always going to rub your heel the wrong way. The toes are always going to be too tight. You may like the way they look, but they will pinch your feet as long as you wear them. No matter how hard you've tried, the shoes still don't fit. And they never will.
I had sort of started realizing the darling shoes weren't fitting so well in a general sense, but I kept thinking another day of walking around with them would do it. It wasn't until one day, standing in the Home Depot with my mother-in-law, that I realized it was time to take the damn shoes off.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It just felt like the world was happening somewhere else. I dreamed of city living, but it seemed so far away and scary and impossible. Plus a big part of me really liked having a big house that was sturdy and stable and mine, with a job that allowed me to work from home.
On the other hand, the whole set-up sort of felt like…prison.
Alright, I’m being dramatic, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I found myself wondering, all the time, How does everyone else do it? How does everyone else find joy in staying at home and tending to their houses? What is wrong with me? Is it just a matter of having kids? Does having kids suddenly make the boringness of every day un-boring? But good lord, I don’t want to have kids just so that I have something to do…
And while those doubts were swirling around in my head, I realized that my husband would be completely content* to wake up every day and have things just as they were forever and ever.
Sort of like his parents did.
*Well, except probably he’d prefer it if his wife weren’t terrified of the lifestyle they’d signed up for.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After it started raining in our kitchen, we called a plumber who came and fixed our leak. When he left, we had a square hole in our ceiling that needed to be dry-walled. David happened to mention this to his parents and they said we needn’t hire anyone, that Larry (Dave’s father) had a lot of experience with dry-wall, and that they would come to our house over the weekend to help with that and a few other projects.
[I will tell you right now, in case this wasn’t made painfully obvious already a million times over, I am a deeply, deeply flawed individual. And also horrible and evil. But I have come to terms (now) with who I am and what I like, and spending my weekend addressing dry-wall issues will never, ever be something I look forward to unless somehow it involves cocktails and, I dunno, sparkly shoes.]When Larry and Kathie arrived on that Saturday morning, they brought coffee and donuts and Dave’s younger brother, Mark. And all sorts of tools and equipment. They were happy to be there and happy to be helping.
But as the day and weekend progressed, I just felt worse and worse and worse.
I stood in my kitchen, watching my life slooooooooowly draggggggggging out before my eyes. I saw endless weekends of “house projects” just like this one. I saw year after year of spending time with my in-laws, for whom acceptable topics of conversation were:
- The weather
- TV shows, movies, and books
- Larry’s job
- Kathie’s job
- David’s job
- Mark’s job
- People Larry, Kathie, David, and Mark knew
- House projects
- Anything of substance – we did not talk about serious subjects, ever
- Anything about me – topics or subjects involving only me, my job, or my family were met with polite interest at best, but I had a time limit; I knew I’d passed my limit when Larry would start humming in the middle of my speaking
And I most certainly did not.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The other major project that weekend was installing the adorable chandelier and sconce I’d recently purchased on eBay. I loved the fixtures. They were perfect for the kitchen and I was proud and excited to be taking the pains I was to make the house as warm and inviting as possible. Installation of the fixtures was an absolutely secondary thought at best, and I had planned on hiring an electrician to do it.
My in-laws, having heard of my plans, insisted that hiring someone would be a waste of money.
So in addition to the ceiling dry-wall, they set out to install my fixtures that weekend. First the chandelier, then the sconce. But they realized that in order to mount the sconce properly, "we" would need some sort of sconce-mounty-thingie and "we" would need to go to Home Depot to find it.
It was determined that Kathie and I would go to Home Depot while Dave and Larry and Mark continued with various construction projects.
Kathie drove us. It was the first and only time I would be in a car alone with her, and I remember feeling completely and utterly uncomfortable.
When we finally got there, twenty prickly minutes later, she determined that we should split up, because even though I only had some vague idea of what we were looking for, we would make better time if we both went looking.
How about two hours?
We were at Home Depot for two hours looking for some single, mystery switch plate that I could not have cared less about.
All the joy I'd experienced in acquiring the light fixtures drained with each minute I spent wandering the aisles looking for some random piece of equipment I could have just paid someone to install. You know? So that instead of spending an entire day putting up a light, I could have spent it...
...well, damn it all. What would I have spent it doing?
The truth was, I knew I had nothing better to do then spend an entire afternoon, weekend, hell, an entire MONTH putting up a light. It wouldn't have made a difference. And that knowledge didn’t help one bit.
So for two hours, I wandered past people who were clearly happy to be buying their wood and paint and garden supplies. People who were excited to be installing or building or expanding or planting or repairing. People who were mining for That Thing they needed that would make their homes perfect.
And I spent two hours slowly recognizing that I was never going to find anything like that.
No purchase at the Home Depot would be enough to repair a home I didn’t really want to go back to.
The shoes were never going to fit.