For much of the last few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in a raging shoe-storm. Those “other shoes” we’re always warned about weren’t so much dropping as they were raining on my head. These weren’t sleek Prada slip-ons, either – more like size 12 Carharts. The cost of redoing my two aging bathrooms went up a good 15 percent as estimates progressed from initial to final, my basement seemed to be sweating water even when it hadn’t rained for days, I hit an extremely dry spell with work, my microwave oven died (caused, I believe, by one too many NStar power glitches – what is it with that company’s lines?), and my washing machine began showing signs of imminent demise. The combination of a 2-ton dumpster (see bathroom note, above) and 2-1/2 weeks of no water (also see bathroom note, above) completely fried my front lawn, and I developed a sinus infection, thanks to all the mold floating around my house (see bathroom/basement notes above), which lasted for almost five weeks.
I began to feel like the house I loved hated me, and I started saying little prayers every time I opened the refrigerator door, pushed the dryer’s “start” button or turned on a sink faucet – “please still work, please still work, please still work.” Having moved myself 1,200 miles from a tried-and-true support network, it seemed I was going through this possibly fading love affair all alone.
Lately, though, the clouds of shoe leather seem to have parted, and I’m starting to breathe regularly again. I’ve had two successful rounds of guests in the last month, and all functioned fine during the visits. The corpse of a microwave still lingers in my basement, next to the trash can, but the washing machine is still running (though I have to manually move the cycle knob to get it to progress from “wash” to “rinse” and “spin”). I also think I know what’s going on with the basement’s sweating issue – the copper water-supply line from the meter runs along the top of the front basement wall, and water was condensing and dripping from it in streams during the really hot, humid days of July. I just had to look up – instead of staring down, preoccupied, at the damp concrete floor – to figure out the problem. I think a simple foam insulating sleeve should keep the pipe, and floor, nice and dry.
The bathrooms, though they cost more than anticipated, are possibly the two nicest I’ve ever had. I just finished painting them last night, reinstalled all the hardware and hung a couple pictures and, suddenly, my house seems to like me again. It’s like I picked out just the right let’s-make-up-not-break-up present, and now all is right with the world. I’m even looking forward to spending the Labor Day weekend painting the two guest bedrooms, with the thought the house will like me even more at the end of that job. And work is now keeping me busy again – at least enough to pay the mortgage for the next month or two, which is about as much job security as a freelance writer gets.
Of course, my ever-cautious other side – the side that looks down at a damp basement floor instead of up at the culprit sweating pipe – is just waiting for another shoe-storm to show up on the radar screen, like the next named-storm news from NOAA. That part wants to keep worrying through the bright spots. It’s as if not fully enjoying the good times will somehow appease fate enough to make the difficult times just a little easier around the edges when they arrive.
But the trick, I think, to really enjoying life is to turn that logic around – maybe the good times are really the prize we’re given for getting ourselves through the rough patches in one piece. Not enjoying these rare moments is like rejecting a gift life has handed you, and could make the next bad spell even worse. So, I’m going to work on smiling at my bathrooms instead of frowning at the washer and not knocking on wood every time I mention good news. And, instead of worrying about the next major disaster in the love affair I’m carrying on with my house, I’m going to be thinking about that perfect pair of tassel loafers I could earn for making it through the next shoe-storm that passes overhead.