Monday, July 26, 2010

This Old House

I've been really antsy about the house lately.

Since the divorce, it has felt like I have just been marking time here, versus really living here. In case you have ever wondered, I can say with absolute certainty that it's hard to stay in a house after a divorce, especially if you keep all the same furniture, and all the same dishes, and all the same pictures on the walls, and all the same linens . . .

You get the idea.

What (I think) has been a comfort for the kids has been more than a bit uncomfortable for me.

By my choosing.

Since the divorce, I have worked hard to make sure that everything has stayed the same, physically, for them. At first, I thought that was supremely important. Somehow, I thought that maintaining their home and their neighborhood and their surroundings would make the divorce less difficult.

Maybe it has. Then again, maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.

Consistency was my battle plan for getting my kids through this whole debacle. Of course, who could have imagined a year and a half ago that we would be sitting here in July 2010 in the situation we find ourselves in now. Matty is here with me, living in this house with me, the kids, the dogs and The Ghost of Marriage Past, battling cancer, and we are living across the street from my ex-husband and his family in a home that I have always loved but now somewhat resent.

Let's don't even talk about the housing crisis, or the economy, or the 2 chances we have for selling this home and walking away with a penny in our pocket (those two chances being slim and none.)

Even if we could sell, it would be a terrible time to try. We need to stay put and get through Matty's treatments, and keep the kids in the schools that they are used to, and I still think it's good for them to have their dad and grandparents closeby, even if that's not the most comfortable thing for the adults (them or us.)

All of these factors have kept me from doing, well . . . anything.

It's taken over a year for me to consider what I could do to this place to make it feel like a living, vibrant home, versus a marital graveyard. I know it's been hard on Matty, too, moving into a ready-made home.

In a perfect world, we would have sold this home, and disposed of the furnishings and found a new place.

But you know what they say . . . nothing's perfect.

But when you find yourself in the situation that we are currently in, you take stock of what's important, and what can be enjoyed in the here and now, and if having Matty here has taught me ANYTHING, it's that the day is what you make of it, and you can choose to enjoy life regardless of the circumstances.

I love him so much for that.

So, with that in mind, I found my mindset start to slowly change about the house.

I do still love it here. I love my kitchen, and I love my walk in closet, and I love my basement office, and my wooded backyard. I love my flowers out front, and I love my dining room, painted just the exact shade of blue as my beloved Pfaltzgraf stoneware.

I even love the neighborhood, and the pool, and the sidewalks.

All of the things that I loved about this house are still here. Everything that made it felt like I would shrivel up and die if we didn't get this house are still here.

That realization has been slow to catch fire in my head, but it's been smoldering for awhile now, and seems to have worked up a little flame. It's only been in the past month or so that I have begun to assess the situation and make plans to remake this home into one that feels less like a monument to what was, and more of a comforting place to enjoy what is.

It really started with a couple of small things, but I've learned that it's amazing how encouraging small changes can be.

Matty bought me a new gazebo for the deck (my old one had been destroyed in a bad storm last year.) Somehow, having him make that effort led me to want to make the deck as nice as I could for us to enjoy, so I ordered some solar light caps for the deck railings.

And, oh my sweet Home Depot . . . it took me FOREVER to pull the trigger on the damn lighting.

I looked online for DAYS, agonizing over every choice. It felt like I was making some kind of life-or-death decision, which is crazy.

Well, it is.

Anyway, I finally took a deep breath and clicked the "buy" button.

Then I noticed how neglected the deck was, and how badly it needed to be cleaned and stained and sealed, so we started collecting bids for that work, and it wasn't too long before I took a good look at my exterior porch and garage lights and ordered some that are as pretty as the deck lights. (Sea Gull Yorktown 1-Light Forged Iron Wall Lantern, retail $104, EBay new in box $54.00.)

They are in boxes at my front door now, and I am giddy with excitement to see them adorn the entrances.

We also picked up some new showerhead sets for our bathrooms. If you don't have a rainshower soaker/handheld shower combo, I can't recommend them highly enough.

This past weekend, we bought some beautiful forged iron pulls for my kitchen and bathroom cabinets ($1 apiece at a closeout of custom order kitchen hardware, retailed for $8ish each), and I've ordered some replacement lights for our bathrooms (this Kichler 3 light set was $225.00 retail, $39.00 new in the box on Ebay. Her 4-light sister was $295.00 retail, got two of those for $49.00 each!)


I've also begun to assemble all of the things that will be leaving our house. I plan to have the mother of all garage sales very very soon.

Once the house has been cleared of all of the unwanted items, the biggest project of all will commence: painting. It's the only project I am actually nervous about, which is silly, of course. I'm sure once I actually start applying the paint, it will be a breeze, but deciding on the colors, and preparing properly, all that . . . it feels like a big challenge.

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