Now technically speaking, I do not live “off the grid.” Which is, I suppose, a good thing because I never intended to. That said, I never expected to be in the midst of a DIY project either—which again, technically speaking, I am not, since I can’t do any of the things myself that are required to make my home truly habitable.
Nor did I mean to buy a “fixer-upper.” What I had meant to do was to sell my lovely, large and historic home in the grievous aftermath of my sad divorce and buy a cozy little nest I could call my very own. I feared that if I opted to rent I would end up a self-pitying sad puppy in a one-bedroom duplex in a complex with a shared and chlorinated swimming pool and neighbors in as much existential transit as myself.
But oh, dear, what was I thinking? Six months into the “cozy little nest” stage of my life’s immediate trajectory, I am relishing the idea of a shared and chlorinated swimming pool. A plot of proletariat petunias that the apartment complex staff plants and keeps up sounds like floral heaven. A coin-operated laundry room? Luxury!
It’s true that, as far as the myth of bonding in the initial few moments of key relationships go—think mother-to-child—my house and I have blown our bonding opportunity big time.
Did it start with the washing machine that broke in the move? Or was it the damage to the heating system that took out the electricity in the upstairs bathroom and first and second floor hallways—to say nothing of the destroyed ceiling and damaged flooring? Was it the two months I went living with a dorm fridge while my full-sized one was kaput? Or was it the critters in the basement which the pest control people misdiagnosed and then overcharged me for removing? Dunno.
As I moved into Lent and work got underway to replace my bathroom, the joke went round with colleagues that I had given that little room up for Lent. Then Holy Week came and went and I realized that yes, I had given up my bathroom not only for Lent, but for longer. I shower at my yoga studio. I bathe in the floorless bathroom, candlelight making shadows on the bare studs (there is no electricity in the bathroom). I use space heaters in the rest of the house because—yep, something is wrong with the heating system.
And I am starting my third month of sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my study so that I can at least have proximity to the half-bath that does function. My dog, Jack, likes my little pallet on the floor. Me, not so much.
As far as I can tell, there is no grand Life Lesson to be learned here. I made a questionable choice in real estate and now must make the changes that make it work out. I’m not enjoying any of this. And this relentless Winter of Our (Endless) Discontent has not helped.
Of course, you can say it’s a first world problem and it is that. And I’m grateful for all that is good in my life because there are many things more important to a good life than a good house--health and relationships being chief among them. In addition, I can also mutter (unconvincingly) to myself the usual bromides (plenty of folks already have, to my chagrin): This too shall pass. It will be great once it’s all fixed up. One day you’ll look back on all this and laugh.
Mostly, though, I am just trying to get through it. I can flip this house, I tell myself. And it is true; once I solve these issues, it will be lovely and functioning. But by then I will be ready for the next domestic challenge, perhaps a yurt or a tiny house someplace far, far away.