Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three Sisters

If I didn't know me so well, I'd worry I was a tad bipolar. I realize this, as my pendulum is swinging towards manic at the moment. But as I do know me so well, I know that I don't swing dangerously, or debilitatingly in either direction, but swing I do, I'm a swinger.

I wish I swung more on the gender attraction scale, there would be so many more options, oh well. I'll take manic, manic is fun, manic is productive, manic makes me feel more optimistic.

Indeed, I'm starting the new year with a lot of energy. Maybe it's from sleeping until noon for a week, or maybe it was just time. I'm motivated, I have a lot of ideas and I'm actually getting things done. I went to the gym yesterday as planned and while that was downright painful, I am in terrible shape. Weak, I'm a weakling, I have hope that can be remediated. When my trip south of the border rolls around in seven weeks I want to feel strong. Powerful. Indestructible. Now is the time.

I bought this house nine years ago from the estate of the three spinster sisters that had grown up and lived most of their lives here. I never met the youngest of them, but I'm told she was the glue that held the other two together. The two that outlived her, Ettie and Suzie were battling bitties, Ettie went into a nursing home and died a few months later and Suzie followed her shortly, in her ripe old late 90s. Her funeral illuminated one heck of a life, filled with travel and adventure. Back in the day, she wasn't content to just be a "girl", she was a trailblazer. She started one of the first female-owned business in Rhode Island, something to do with telephones. Her life was inspiring, her funeral was powerful and poignant, despite her having outlived most, who knew her well.

I wanted this house two doors down from where we lived because it sat on a precious double city lot giving us a deep, side yard which provided the opportunity to get the ball throwing one out of the street. I also coveted the extra long, flat driveway which was great for trikes and scooters and bouncing balls. I thought a basketball net would be the difference between after school t.v. and outdoor activity and I was right.

We moved to this street when Griffin was two and as the old ladies let the neighborhood kids use the driveway, I often sat on the sloped lawn while G ran around the driveway, or rode his tricycle and years later with Jonah. Sometimes I laid in the grass and looked at the sky while he played, I couldn't imagine someone else buying this house and no longer having that opportunity. Often I'd look up and see one of the ladies or both, watching happily out the window with the sound of game shows in the background. They couldn't get along with each other, but they were both happy to have neighborhood kids trespassing.

Suzie, once in hospital and realizing she wasn't coming home, wanted the house to go to someone from the neighborhood and approved of her two nieces selling it to me. After she died it took a year of negotiating as they just weren't ready to part with this sentimental part of their lives even though they both lived out of state. When finally they were ready to sell, we had the place appraised and I simply bought it for the appraised value without a realtor or it ever going on the market, we wouldn't have been able to afford it then as the price would have gone way up. The house was a bloody mess. Filthy wall-to-wall carpeting, three layers of wallpaper and paint in every room. A tiny, dilapidated kitchen leaking gas, truly, cluttered mess. But I knew it was a good deal, solid old house on a double lot doesn't lose value. We sold the little house two doors up for three times what we paid for it seven years earlier, so essentially bought the new house for considerably less, put the extra money into fixing it up and hence have a nice investment with equity on my hands. 

I was the caretaker of the house for the year the nieces were making up their minds and I'll admit to stripping paint and wallpaper before I owned the place, but I just believed in my gut it would work out. I could tell these women had integrity and weren't going to screw me over. They just wanted to get to know me because they couldn't bear to just sell the house to anyone, visiting the aunties was a large and cherished part of their childhoods. I understand that. My husband thought I was crazy and was not a big fan of the idea because he didn't like change, even if it's moving two doors down and getting a great deal. So the sweat equity was up to me. I pulled every nail holding down the carpeting, I lifted the stained, cracked kitchen linoleum, and looking back, it seems odd, that I had to hit up a friend to help me drag the carpet out. I often gave in to his lack of enthusiasm on things, but with this house, and having a second child after a bad loss, I was a dog with a bone, relentless… had to have. He still resents me for these two things but admits that in retrospect they were really good decisions for which he's glad. Can you say, just can't win? He gets the payoff without any of the sweat, both literal and figurative, and gets to resent me.

I digress, over that year and after being so moved by Suzie's funeral, I felt nostalgic about the house too, just like the nieces, I felt the need to honor them. And one of the ways I did this was by keeping some of their furniture including a large breakfront china cabinet in the living room. when I say large, I mean it, it's 7' tall and double wide and I paid the estate sale people good money for it without bargaining, I have no idea why, swept up in the moment I suppose. At the end of the day I realized that if I'd passed on it, they'd have likely given it to me for free, just to not have to move it, like the dining room buffet, but I paid an exorbitant amount for it and have regretted it ever since. I don't know why I obsess over this one piece of furniture the way I do, we've all had buyer's remorse. This piece is just not my style and it's in my living room… where I live and every day I've dwelled here I've grown to loathe it more and more. That's also tied up with it being more my husbands style than mine and him refusing to take any furniture with him when he moved out, choosing instead to take our savings and furnishing his apartment with all new everything. The guy has better cookware than I've ever had and he doesn't even cook. In my new year's energy burst, I finally listed the beast on craigslist for a painfully low amount which garnered no interest whatsoever and so I decided, out, I just want it out and so I've donated it to a local artist who paints and plays with, and resells old furniture. I don't know her well but I love her work and she has a deep and interesting life story, small parts of which I've gleaned from FaceBook over time. 

Yet, here I am again, obsessing about my stupid purchase seven years later. I don't know why I beat myself up this way. It's a new year and It's time to make this my home, my home, not our home. The beast is going to a good cause and I get a wall back and a fresh start. I'll buy a piece I like for the space, which I know I deserve, but feel so guilty about as I shouldn't spend scarce money on frivolous things. Truth be told, what I love more than anything is nice furniture, home goods are my weakness and I think the only purchased new thing in my house is the sofa which has seen way better days. Oh and the IKEA bookcase for which I also have buyers remorse. Most of the rest of the things in the house were also bought from the estate sale for a song, maybe not things I would choose out of a line up, but perfectly adequate an tolerable. Maybe once the beast is gone, I won't think about it anymore, it will stop taunting me. Ridiculous the little things that drive us crazy. It's a new year, so out with the old, in with the new.

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