For much of my life, I’ve been obsessed with having a house of my own. As kids, we lived in rent houses. They were nice rent houses, but they didn’t belong to us. I think the P’s worried that the school district wouldn’t renew Daddy’s contract. Looking back I realize that fear played a huge part in our daily lives, drifting insidiously into every crack of our lives.
I inherited that fear thing; it is genetic. Even as a raging nutso dry drunk, the underlayment was always fear. What am I not getting that I want? Who has something I don’t have? I held a measuring stick on the universe and always felt like I came up short. It took working the steps a couple of times before I could put the measuring stick away most of the time.
It was in 2002 that I realized that nobody was going to provide me with a house of my own and, like the Little Red Hen, I set about finding one for myself. I found a realtor which was the easy part. Got pre-qualified so I knew what range of $ I could spend. That was a little scary. I’d been in business for myself up to 1998 and the close out on that deal was a financial train wreck for me. I wasn’t sure that anyone would loan me money, but I was a single mom and first time home buyer so there were special programs to guarantee my re-payment and, to my amazement, I did qualify. For all I know, a 3 legged, 1 eyed cat would have.
I searched out my house with a scouting party composed of Georgie, Jack, Mary Ann, Gerald, Savanna, Nina, and Claire. The realtor kept asking, “Now who are all these people?” The house I eventually bought was frozen in the 70’s with gilded wallpaper and over-sized microwave. The family who had lived there kept their animals unfettered and unlitterboxed. Although my little house was structurally sound, it was filthy. When I told Jack which house I thought would be best, he said in horror, “The cat pee house?!!”
It took a considerable effort to rip off the old wallpaper, refinish the floors, repair dry wall, and paint. My friend Bill was the plumber and re-did the kitchen fixtures. The utility crew I was inspecting loaned me a pipelayer and he did my electrical. (He had been an apprentice electrician in Mexico.) My carpenters were the form builders from another company’s concrete crew. None of them spoke English, but they all spoke the language of “get it done.”
Jack tiled the entryway with a glass inlay which he claimed is “Welcome” in Japanese. I have not a clue if that is true; it could say, “Die, round-eyed demons” but it’s festive. Jack and I placed ceramic tile in the living room. Jack worked with our neighbor across the street laying tile and decided he was an expert. Carpal tunnel from computer work? Try grouting work. An 11′ x 17′ room becomes the coliseum.
Bill, Georgie, and I rented a floor sander and re-finished the wood floors. There is nothing more beautiful than wood floors. We also ripped apart the leaning wood structure in the backyard and used the lumber to construct a back porch.
I love this little house. Not as much for the structure that it is but for what it represents. None of the work is perfect, but love did it all. For awhile after I moved into the house I would stand in the middle of the hallway, look to the right at the living room and to the left at Jack’s bedroom, and marvel at what a gift God had given me. I still feel that way when I walk in the front door.
I bought a house; I got a home.