I’m not sure when a house becomes a home, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.
My husband, Peter, and I have moved into the new place. All our stuff is here, but that doesn’t mean we know where anything is.
“Have you seen the strainer?”
“You know, the fine one.”
We have about two dozen conversations like this every day. We got rid of a lot of stuff and now it’s hard to remember what we kept. Then I unpacked by myself, so Peter had to go on a scavenger hunt when he got here. Finally, we had the “last-minute essentials” we brought with us, and we’re still unpacking those. It’s a jumble. Peter was convinced (unreasonably, I assured him) that every T-shirt he owned had mysteriously been lost in the move.
“I found them!” I heard him yell from the bedroom. “Mystery solved!”
I am realizing how much I do on autopilot. I reach for a soap dispenser that isn’t there. “Do I even have a soap dispenser?” I wonder.
I look in a likely box and notice something I’d forgotten about and I put that away and, when I do, I notice something else in a drawer where it shouldn’t be and I move it. Suddenly, I find I am standing in the middle of the kitchen with no idea what I’m doing there.
“The soap dispenser!” I remind myself. I end up using the bar of soap in the bathtub.
Then there are all the things we need contractors to do. Nobody is excited about renovating an old condominium when there is so much new construction going on, so my day is spent wheedling contractors to come over. We need electrical fixtures installed, we need the flooring repaired where a bump has developed, and we’d like to replace the old yellow bathtub. Since I am better at wheedling than Peter, I make these calls. I have particular success if the contractor is married and I can wheedle his wife. I did that this morning and got the electrician, George, to come out in less than an hour.
It was a busy morning. In addition to George, a self-described “handyman” named Steve visited. Steve the handyman turned out to be quite handy and will be helping us out. George the electrician, however, turned out not to be an actual electrician, which was disappointing—especially after I had had such a friendly chat with his wife. Not to mention his card said “electrical contractor” across the top.
“Nope,” George said. “I can’t do that.” Oh well.
Meanwhile our little balcony (which is the best part of the whole place) is closed off for painting and maintenance.
“How much maintenance can a balcony take?” I asked Peter. Apparently quite a lot, as they have scaffolding running up the building and yellow ribbon running across the balcony like the scene of a crime.
“Don’t worry,” Peter says. “It will all get done.”
And, of course, he is right. We will get rid of the bump in the floor (which seems to be growing) and we will get to enjoy our balcony and we will have our electrical fixtures installed by someone who is actually an electrician. But for now, I am looking forlornly out at the forbidden balcony and wondering when this will feel like home.
We showed George the bathtub, and he said he could replace it. I think my next call will be to a plumber to see if he’d like to install some lighting fixtures.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.