Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Home at Last

Ian and I moved back into our house 14 days ago, and boy are we glad to be here. Our house, making sure that the renters wouldn’t feel bad at all to be moving to their new place (they bought a condo—they seem quite happy about it), let a little river flow through the basement six days before they left. Those of you who know us and our house know that rivers have run through it periodically over the last almost eight years, and we thought we’d taken care of them all with French drains and the judicious use of sump pumps and exterior water-seepage-blocking spray stuff on the outside of the basement walls (exposed, of course, due to a great deal of hired sweat). But, it turns out not putting a drain by the crawl space meant that the water had one last way in.

As floodings go, this one was minor (it happened the same day that I-5 closed in Chehalis and some relatives had to be rescued from the attic of their house by boat). It didn’t get anyone’s belongings wet, and only soaked a little bit of the carpet on the bottom stair. But it was enough to convince G&E, the former tenants, that their new 2nd floor condo was a step up (and not just literally).

Anyway, they were willing to let us not do anything, as any work in the yard would only seriously inconvenience everyone involved and not, in fact, solve anything before they left. As of yet, we still haven’t done anything, but rains have been more moderately usual, and the basement has stayed dry through our moving process.

I really think the house missed us. We’d lived here for seven years straight, and had, aside from the river, no problems with anything. We feel warmed and well-protected by our house, and we feel that our friends and family are also comfortable here. When we moved out, though, I don’t think I let the house know how much we really appreciate it. We talked a lot about going away for a couple years, having strangers live within its walls, then building a new house and moving away when we returned to the US. And I think our house here was sad.

I may have the order of events wrong, but here are some of the problems G&E encountered, most of them within the first two months:

The drain for the clawfoot tub disconnected.
After it had been reconnected, one clawfoot fell off the tub while G was showering, pitching him to the floor. And the drain disconnected again.
The bathroom fan went out.
The sewer went out, or rather stopped going out, which turned out to be because the line from the house to the street was completely clogged up with debris and a huge root system.

I believe that’s it—at least, that’s all G&E let us (read: Deane) know about. We found a couple days ago, however, that the oven doesn’t work very well. I turned it up as high as it would go and still, after about 3 hours, it had only reached 377 degrees, where it seemed to have stalled out. Clearly not acceptable. I hope G&E were simply not bakers rather than they just didn’t want to complain about another issue.

We received our keys on the evening of December 9, and immediately, throughout the house, burned some sage that we’d harvested from our front stoop and banged two grills from the stove together to produce a purifying clanging sound. We weren’t so much getting rid of energy—as I’ve said, G&E were great tenants, and all-around good people—but rather letting the house know that we were back.

I had two rooms that I wanted to repaint before we moved in our belongings, so we went into those rooms (our bedroom and our former guest room which is now my study) with pencils and wrote prayers on the walls that were about to be covered up. A friend gave me this idea, and I love it. Basically, you write things that you are grateful for (past, present or future, but as if they have already happened), and infuse your room with good energy.

It seems to have worked—I’ve been sleeping well in our bedroom, and I’m looking forward to creating in my office (by the way, the bedroom had been light blue with a green wall and it’s now a warm, caramely brown; and the study-as-guest-room was peach, and it’s now a rich pumpkin.)

We’ve replaced a lot of things. We decided when we moved out that the futons had to go—they’re convenient, yes, but I’d bought them ten years before in graduate school and we thought it was time to join the adult world with adult furniture. So we now own a sleeper-sofa in the TV room and we have on order a classic cigars-at-the-men’s-club sofa from North Carolina. We also replaced both our mattresses with organic latex, wool and cotton mattresses that. we. love. I’ve been having a nap every day just to appreciate the guest bed as well as our own.

We’ve entered the world of grown-up entertainment systems . . . sort of . . . with a flat screen plasma TV that had to be installed by the Geek Squad. I say sort of because we did get an HD DVD player, but we did not get cable TV, regardless of the fact that our internet and phone are now from Comcast. We really just don’t watch TV, and if we do decide we need to continue with the Gossip Girl habit we started while staying at L&S’s place, we can probably find some rabbit ears in a dumpster or in a piece of retro art somewhere.

Spackle has inserted himself seamlessly back into our lives, resurrected, as it were, from the “doggy heaven” that Ian kept claiming he was staying at. His first bath in 8 months yielded a lot of hair. Like, enough for another dog. He still snores at night if we let him sleep in the bed with the sides, because he rests his chin and cuts off his air, evidently. And keeps us awake.

Today we’ve been finishing up collating the last few belongings into their appropriate order and hanging the last few bits of art on the walls, then I think we’re both ready to take a breather and see about getting back into the semblance of a routine after almost nine months.

For several weeks I had been ready for the adventures to end, so that I could have a place to call my own again, a place to get back into my schedule, and use the things that I have collected to live my life the way I want to live it. So that I could be settled again. And when we were given our keys, back in mid-December, the first thing I felt wasn’t joy, it wasn’t freedom, it wasn’t relief. The first thing I felt was . . . settled. And a twinge of regret that we hadn’t managed to make it to New Zealand. And that we weren’t free to go traipsing around the world again at the moment, maybe South America this time. And that we were, as we’d been wishing, the only ones in charge of all the issues and responsibilities of home ownership. I quickly recovered, and I have loved being back in my space again, where Ian is the only other person I have to worry about.

It’s been a crazy year, certainly. One year ago, Ian was offered the job in Wellington. In January, I had a mastectomy. In April we moved out of our house, expecting to alight again in Southern climes. In May we left for Europe, and after four months of nomadism, arrived back in Seattle at the end of August. We stayed with friends for 3 months, then suddenly here we are, back in our house, one year later, as if nothing had happened. But everything is different.

So . . . where to next?

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Confession

I went to New York City over the first weekend in December, to attend a baby shower for the first baby of one of my college friends. A. was actually one of the first people I met in college—she was my RA, and signed me in when Dad dropped me off. It was a growing experience for both of us—me and Dad, that is—because I found myself installed on a co-ed floor (shared bathroom!) and Dad found himself needing to be polite to someone who, well within her rights, was chewing gum in his presence. Dad had some idiosyncrasies, and expecting the world to not make small repetitive noises just because they irritated him was one of them. I remember being impressed that he didn’t even glare at her, leaving her to wonder why this complete stranger was judging her for some mysterious reason. No, he tucked away his irritation in a way that some might even have interpreted as a lack of concern.

Anyway, A. and her husband J. are expecting a little girl at the end of January, and I was thrilled, in the midst of our busy fall of sitting around waiting to move back into our house, to have the time to visit and attend the shower. I was only able to stay two nights, however, and so (and here is the confession) I didn’t contact any other of my NYC friends.

This was a difficult choice to make, and I felt bad about it for awhile, but it was ultimately the only thing I could’ve done. I had not gone to NYC alone—two other college friends, L. and C., also came, and between the four of us (five if you count baby Ribbet, her in-utero name; six if you count J.) we had plenty to do to keep us busy.

So, if you live in NYC and you missed me December 1st, I do apologize, and I’ll plan many more days for my next trip.