For the past 4 weeks, maybe even longer, I’ve been working like a crazy person getting our home ready for the housing market. If you’ve ever had the dumb idea to start working on a 120-year-old house, then you can appreciate some of the insanity that’s been visiting me.
In an old house, you can’t remove just one piece of moulding or one piece of anything. It goes against the laws of cordial expectations, which state the following: “Cordial or casual work is not permitted in any domicile that is older than you are.” Then, in itty-bitty print, this: “hah-hah ha hah-hah.” I had thought that a willing worker with willing assistance could tear into something and overcome all the hidden snags, the not-looked-for messes.
Sheesh, was I wrong. I’m not going to go into any details here, because doing so wouldn’t be beneficial to my hope of putting all of this behind me. I still think I can forget some of the most moronic things I found, like a wall that wasn’t attached to anything at all, but it’ll take time. In a way, this balancing wall was fabulous, having stood in one spot (more or less) for years and years, but in another way it’s a scream for more headache medicine. Everyone knows I mean beer.
A good friend of mine is a contractor with over 40 years experience building and remodeling homes. He saved me again and again with arcane knowledge that had to come from the nearly-forgotten areas of his mind, areas that I will never possess. There were problems that I would look at and begin hyperventilating over, shaky and weak, and he’d come over, look at things, fix them and go home.
I put up drywall, took down drywall, destroyed drywall. I added 2x4s to the places that didn’t need them and I painted spots that only the spiders would ever see, and my buddy just watched and chewed on an old cigar. You’ll learn, he’d say, even when we both knew his optimism was unrealistic. I most certainly would not learn; my learning curve had spiked and flattened out, leaving me at roughly the same intelligence level as a frog.
I was becoming very testy, and that’s a charitable description. Actually, I had insights into the way criminally insane people felt all the time, and I found these to be oddly calming. After the first two weeks I made conscious efforts to avoid anyone who looked like a shrink, afraid that such a person might summon those ambulances with the rubber walls. The line I felt myself crossing, step by stumbling step, was probably a dangerous one but I had to finish what I’d started.
I kept on working and my surliness kept on growing. The realtor had told us that we should try to be ready by September 1st, then the 8th, then the 15th. This deadline infuriated me and I can only surmise it did so because my real mind had separated itself from me and was out playing with the neighbor kids, while I worked in the gloom of a perspective that’s alien to most people. I’d become certifiable.
These last few weeks are lost in black-out for me. The house is done, looks really, really good but I can’t recall doing most of the work. I can see blood spots here and there, and they’ve got to be mine, but my hands and arms hold no stitches. The wounds must have been minor. The realtor came by just yesterday, looked around and was pleased with my efforts. He said so.
So, tomorrow the house goes on the skyrocketing housing market and I’m ready. If it sells quickly, I’ll be happy and surprised. If it doesn’t, I won’t care. If I have to, I can stay here a little longer, because I know that it’ll eventually sell. Has to. It looks so good now that someone’s going to love it and I won’t ever tell the new owner that the mean ghost they’re going to see is me. The other me. The remodeler.