Saturday, June 14, 2014
The House Knows
It's difficult to hide things from a house. Especially house things.
We knew we would sell within three years, but we didn't tell the house. Even before we moved in we made a few improvements, like removing the "popcorn" ceilings, installing pot lights, new oven, etc. After a year we put a roof on the patio and installed ceiling fans, and we removed the king palm and the blue spruce in the front yard (trust me, they needed to go). It "looked" like we planned to be here a long time.
So I can understand why the house might feel a bit "put out" by our recent purging and packing.
The standard "It's not you, it's us" works no better on a house than it does on your soon-to-be ex.......even though it is very true in this case.
It is a wonderful house, one of my favorites of the very many I have called home. The layout is smart with good flow and no wasted space. Lots of storage. Easy to maintain (except all the leaves that seem to fall year round). Good location. Low utilities. It has a good feeling that everyone notices.
Really "You'll make someone a wonderful home". Nope, that one sounds lame even to me.
We now talk about leaving all the time. Out loud. In the house. Even when new improvements are made we use words like "potential buyer" and "resale value". Holidays are now "last ones here". These are not references to a long term relationship.
Closets and cupboards are emptying out, not filling up. The yard is being maintained, not upgraded. New purchases are all RV-related, not house stuff. The library is on a Kindle and books go home with friends, never to be seen again. The house is nearly 40 years old. It recognizes the signs.
In all fairness, we did not intentionally mislead our house. We loved making it a home these last three years. We've taken good care of it, dressed it up on the holidays, showed it off to friends and family. It's a better house now than it was when we met. We just need to move on.
At 40+ years old the house could choose to be mature about this whole thing. It could wish us well. It could celebrate new beginnings. It could let us off easy, with maybe a hug.
But no. We will pay. Literally.
It started with a few passive-aggressive signs: a clogged washing machine drain that required a plumber with a long snake (don't, this is serious), a bathroom faucet to replace, a broken gate hinge. Spread out over months and quick to repair, we didn't take it personally.
When subtle isn't working.........go for the big ticket stuff! Start with a broken sprinkler pipe in the front yard. Put it deep in the roots of the biggest tree. When the homeowner turns off the front sprinklers and waters the small yard by hand, break the main line under the syphon valve. Do it quietly so the leak goes for days before it's noticed and the water bill sends a nice written message. Time it when the homeowner has to work every weekend and has to hire a plumber to make the $400+ temporary fix. Enlist the landscaping to locate the break between the large tree and the giant hedge, against the cinderblock wall. Do it when the humidty is high.
Now the backyard sprinklers are also shut off. The newly planted grass is suffering. We have to drag hoses to keep the planters green. Shovels and axes and chain saws are coming out for a fun weekend of nasty work. It's Fathers' Day.
It is so personal. We are 40+ (++) years old and we also know the signs. This is not going to be an easy separation. Even before the sprinkler attack is cleaned up, the washing machine is squeaking and the air conditioner makes an occasional thunk when starting up. Standing at the mailbox in the afternoon light I swear the house is smirking.
Yes, the house knows. We know it. And the house knows we know.
It should be an interesting few months.