Sunday, February 10, 2013
A Love/Hate Relationship with a House
At one time, I had more rooms in my house than I knew what to do with. We had ten rooms if you count the scullery and the enclosed porch, but not the exterior porches (three down and an upstairs sleeping porch),
the bathrooms, the attic, the cellar, and the hallways which were big enough to rearrange the furniture that was in them when I had a better idea. Of course that house almost killed us, trying to heat it.
We had two gas furnaces, one up and one down, four fireplaces (two with woodstoves), and an outside wood furnace that took two pickup truck beds full of wood per week to keep going. And still we were cold.
I have a love/hate relationship with that house. I feel guilty for unloading it because it was incredibly beautiful with original details like bead-board on all the walls and ceilings (one of the reasons we couldn’t heat the place—I’m talking about individual slats of one-inch bead-board, not paneling),
windows with wavy glass, a built-in china cabinet with the original owner’s name penciled inside and the date—1904,
turn-of-the-century light fixtures, and fifty-three acres of land abundant with flowers and flowering trees like purple plum trees, ornamental cherries,
rhododendrons, azaleas, and hibiscus. There were also red bud trees, crepe myrtle, a weeping cherry, wisteria, and daffodils. There were cobblestone paths, gurgling creeks with hand-made bridges,
meadows and fields, barns, a cottage, and a carriage house that once was a rest stop for horses and buggies.
It was truly a beautiful place, more than anything I ever imagined having, and I continuously worked on it, feeling like I was saving it from the previous owners who had wrecked it. It took me two full years just to paint it. I couldn’t use a roller because of all the gaps in the bead-board and so I had to do it all by hand, including the ceilings. It took three coats of paint altogether because it had to be primed first. The ceilings were high, maybe another three feet or so higher than most standard ceilings, so that added to the painting, giving me more wall to cover and adding to the difficulty since I had to maneuver the ladder around. I finished painting it right about the time we sold it. Maybe it was the painting that almost killed me but I didn’t care because I loved that house and I worry about it because a house can so easily fall into the wrong hands and fall into disrepair and an old house, especially, needs constant attention and definitely constant painting.
I also feel guilty because I like the person I sold it to. I didn’t tell her about the Evils who lived next door. If you can call it next door. It was across the road, through the creek, and over the mountain if you went by four-wheeler or horseback. If you drove, it was three miles around. But it was the adjoining property nonetheless. The Evils were the previous owners who had wrecked it. Even though they were only there for a short time, perhaps they felt they had a claim to it forever, or maybe they just felt they had the right to ride roughshod over anyone in their path. At any rate, it was close enough for the Evils to stalk, harass, vandalize, rob, and assault me and my family. For what reason in their sick, demented minds, I really have no idea. The only thing I can come up with is they thought I called Animal Control on them. I hadn’t. But I was thinking about it. This was a bit of information I neglected to share with the person I sold the place to when I was telling her how lovely the purple plum trees looked when they were blooming.
I justified it by telling myself that I was going to die from the stress if I didn’t get out of there. I also told myself that the new owner—let’s call her Naomi—sort of deserved it because she tricked me into giving her the place for fifty grand less than I had planned to. Okay, forget “sort of.” There’s no “sort of.” If I’m going to be honest here, I wholeheartedly thought she deserved it, I was so mad that she scammed me on the price of the house. (Of course business is business and she was clever—I really can’t fault her for that.) I also thought that just because the Evils were attacking me, didn’t mean they would attack her, though I have to admit, if their record of fighting with everyone around town was any indication, it didn’t look good for the new owners.
But all’s well that ends well. Naomi was stronger than me and I think she was meant to be there (someday I will tell you the harp story) because she gave the Evils a run for their money and was instrumental in them finally getting arrested for animal abuse and it wasn’t long before they lost their house and hightailed it out of there, leaving the neighborhood the bucolic and peaceful place it once was.
(Ironically, they rented a place in the same county I had moved to and though I lived in fear of running into them, and did in fact see them in Walmart one time, which caused me to abandon my cart full of Great Value paper towels and Suave conditioner, I never saw them anywhere near my side of the county and so they had no idea where I lived.)
In addition, Naomi forgave me for selling her the place. When I finally came out with it, the story of what the Evils had done to us, and apologized for not telling her, she didn’t sue me, retaliate, or even get mad. We keep in touch. The Evils are gone and she got the place for a good price. Of course she’s freezing her ass off in there. But once the purple plum trees start blooming, she’ll forget all about that.