EMBRACING THE UGLY AND LETTING IT GO
The other day the husband and I had a little bit of a heart-to-heart about the house. There were tears afterward (on my end) because it meant coming to grips with how unhappy we are in this house, for various reasons. After four and a half years, we still don't feel like this place is our home. Many, many things have gone wrong along the way. I've had to make many compromises and watch as some of my favorite features of the house -- the wide plank floors, the kitchen fireplace, etcetera, etcetera -- had to be destroyed or replaced due to structural problems. It sucks up our money, our time, our energy. It's never, ever clean despite my constant efforts. Working on our house has gotten in the way of making and maintaining friendships, enjoying our hobbies and just hanging out as a family.
Though I am genuinely thankful that I have a roof over my head and running water, I hate that we've become slaves to this place. All we see now are the mistakes and poor decisions we've made, and the endless work we still have before us -- and that's not what "home" should feel like. Plus all that negativity is just not healthy mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically. I don't even like writing about it, but I feel blogs like mine often lack transparency about the difficulties and the un-pretty things that happen beyond the edges of a carefully framed photograph.
What prompted this conversation was some bad news about our garage. The garage is at the bottom of a slope and surrounded by trees, and every time it rains we basically get a mudslide directly into the garage. Ez met with a guy who clears and grades land to get an estimate about fixing the drainage problems. After looking around and scoping it out, his recommendation to us was to knock it down and let it go.
Despite how it looks on the outside, the garage has a sturdy structure and a really nice metal roof. It just needed new insulation, sheathing and siding. Not exactly a weekend project, but nothing we couldn't handle. But because the previous owner built the garage at the bottom of a slope so close to the trees, there are giant root balls under the cement slab. In addition to likely compromising the structure over time, they will make it extremely difficult to dig proper drainage channels. It can be done, but not without lots and lots of work -- i.e. lots and lots of money. In the end, the garage will be worth less to a future buyer than what it will cost to fix it up.
Let it go. That was a tough blow, but it wasn't just that. After seeing my husband's weary frustration beginning to show, the bulldozer guy took off his hard hat and got personal. He said he understood what we're going through. He and his wife bought an old house when they were young, tore it apart and worked for many years to put it back together again. They never felt settled; whenever they tried to relax, all the unfinished projects loomed over them. When they finally finished it, they sold it and bought a modular home from a builder -- the kind where you pick out the finishes from a catalog and they deliver it on your property in three pieces and put it together for you. He said letting go of their house and moving into something completely void of thought or the memory of toil was the best decision they ever made.
Let it go. It didn't take much talking for Ez and I to agree we should no longer view this house as our "forever" home. And, as painful as it is, it felt good to admit that. Of course we can't sell any time soon since there's so much work left to do, but having that option in front of us, even a few years away, was liberating. It gave us leave to give up on turning this disaster into our dream home and instead to just finish it. Whether anyone will ever want to buy it is a worry I try not to entertain; what the housing market will look like in five years is anyone's guess, so I want to choose to have faith that it will be okay. And I know that it will.
In the meantime, we are pressing forward. With Johnnie as my shadow it's hard for me to help Ez with the bigger projects he has in the queue, but I'm determined to start working on the smaller things that will make it more comfortable around here -- things I've been putting off because we have so many bigger fish to fry. Things like installing those freaking cabinet knobs in the kitchen already(!)... hanging pictures... organizing the kitchen for real... planting vegetables, trees and flowers... These things I've neglected have just made it all worse. While in some ways I think taking care of these little details will be like putting lipstick on a pig, in other ways I think it will make a big difference in how we feel in the house. It's worth a shot and I'm looking forward to it. So I don't know what the long-term future holds for us and this house I call Thirtyeight20, but I'm so ready to let it go. Whether that amounts to a change of address or just a change of perspective, it's time to stop letting it get to us.
PS - I'm really sorry if this post sounds whiny and ungrateful for how blessed I really am in this life. I'm just trying to be real about the kind of toll a project like this can take... and it's not as pretty as Pinterest might lead you to believe! xo