Across the street and a little way down the road, there’s a house for sale. From what I remember from reading listings back when we were house hunting, it’s “done”: remodeled, updated, all shiny and ready to be moved in to. I pass by it at least twice a day, and seeing it makes me a bit wistful sometimes. It’s a feeling akin to what property development companies must be aiming to provoke in weary commuters when they raise billboards that read “If you lived here you’d be home by now.” We went with a mortgage that got us a house which, well, isn’t “done” yet – at least not in that sense. Our New Hampshire house is in pretty good shape, but there’s a long list of things that need tweaking – like repairing leaking faucets, and installing grounded electrical outlets.
One of the quirky things about this place is that the addition (where the master bedroom and my office are) is very distinct from the original house. It was designed to be used as an apartment, not so much for a tenant, the neighbors tell us, but as a place for the previous owner’s grown children to stay when they came for a visit. For the moment, it takes a quick step through the garage to get to the way upstairs. We’ve got a builder lined up to frame a short wall and rehang the doors, but until that’s done, going to that part of the house feels a bit like going next door.
That’s compounded by fact that heating upstairs is acting up – the last time the electricians were here, they thought they’d sorted it out. Not quite. They’re due back, though, to combine two existing electrical panels in the basement into a single, safer one. As that involves turning off all the power in the house (which means no heat for a while), they’re waiting for a marginally warmer day to start the job.
I like the electricians a lot. (I liked the plumber, too, not the least because he and the dog got along great.) There’s something Obi wan and his young apprentice about the two of them. The first day they were here, D had brought home large ziplocs of cookies and donuts the night before, leftovers from an event at his work – which made for a nice coffee break for the electricians, and happiness all around. Last Monday (the day they thought they had puzzled out the upstairs heat) came on the heels of a crazy weekend, I was off to my first day in an office since before Eleven was born, the weather was rotten, and the cookie jar was empty. I felt bad.
I’ve been leaving the sugar bowl out, and a pair of spoons; mugs and a tin of brownies on the counter, and a pitcher of milk in the fridge, in case the electricians show up while I’m away. (The one day I called their dispatcher in the morning to check on their schedule felt too much like spying on Santa.)
I remind myself daily that we bought a house that wasn’t done yet on purpose, and that we’ve lived through this before, when we first moved into the house in Virginia. Even so, it’s wearing to not to have settled on which cupboard to keep the cereal boxes in, let alone commuting to my closet.
But progress is being made, and some things are already perfectly back to normal: one of the cats, for instance, threw up its breakfast on the kitchen floor this morning. Just like home.