This Old House

I’m giving myself 20 minutes to update because I only have 20 minutes before another contractor/handyman/plumber shows up to tell us how much money we will have to give him or her in order to fix something. Don’t get me wrong; we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we bought this house. And the house was appraised for a great deal more than what we paid, but still. Throwing tens of thousands of dollars into something, and not yet seeing too much change, well, it’s a bit difficult to stomach. (Actually, it wouldn’t be too hard to stomach if I could drink copious amounts of booze. Booze would make this whole experience a hell of a lot easier.)

Today it occurred to me while on another mad dash to Home Depot in hopes of thwarting another minor emergency, that this home is like an old Volvo. And I have owned a few old Volvos in my time.

Take my 1980, red Volvo station wagon. It had a mind of its own. The wipers worked perfectly fine except for when it rained. And the AC worked in the wintertime, but had issues during the summer. It overheated constantly, so we were often forced to drive it with the windows down, heat on, and in the dead of summer. It leaked from the sunroof. The radio worked sometimes, I started to believe only during full moons. My Volvos were a pain in the ass. But I loved them. I loved their curmudgeon-like personalities. I was proud of them. Anyone else would have junked them.

Anyway, we bought the house version of a Volvo. It’s equally as unpredictable and weird, as if it’s alive and making decisions based on how we react, or whatever it is we’re doing. And sometimes I think, “Oh my goodness? What have we gotten ourselves into?” And I spend a few hours having buyer’s remorse, wondering if we should have bought one of those newer homes. You know, the homes that lack personality, but have right angles, floors that are level to their neighboring walls, and toilets that don’t need to be gently pet and talked to while flushing. Maybe we should have purchased  one of those new homes, the kind that doesn’t spew a diarrhea-like liquid from its radiators at 5 AM to a soundtrack that sounds an awful lot like an industrial rock band.

Newer homes don’t even have radiators.

But we bought this home. And much like every Volvo I’ve ever owned, I will grow to love it. I will grow to understand that you simply don’t drive the damned thing when it rains. And if you do manage to get the sunroof closed, you DO NOT open it again ever and you beat the shit out of the passenger who did open it while you were in the store buying beer. And you make damn well sure to bleed the radiators, and then explain to your six-year-old that, contrary to how it sounds, no, it doesn’t actually hurt them. You talk to the toilet, the 100+ year old pipes, the boiler in the basement. You tell the trees, “Sorry, beautiful assholes, but your roots are house cancer and your shade is a petri dish for mold.”

You do these things.

You do these things because you have to. And you bond with your old Volvo or your old house because if you do you’ll have stories to tell about its charming personality set to a soundtrack of laughter, industrial music and creaky floorboards.

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