House Progress One

It’s two months later. So much has happened and nothing has happened.

We spent the last eight weeks bouncing from a crappy hotel to a better hotel to a temporary apartment. We’ve eaten out of microwaves and drive-thru restaurants, almost exclusively. We carry our belongings in bags from place to place to place.

While, my house, the house that I put all my dreams in, sits in squalor.

Everything has been a fight. Fighting with the insurance company, fighting with the mitigation company, fighting to find a contractor, fighting to find a decent place to live.

Every time I see the house, it looks worse. The floors have been ripped out, every single wall in the house has been opened, the kitchen has been pulled from the pipes.

The damage is in every room: the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the skylights, the roof, the deck and the whole garage.

I’m writing about the process for the Richmond Times-Dispatch here.

You can still see sky from the kitchen. You’re not supposed to see sky.

Everything feels wrong.

I’ve always been a goal oriented person. It is hard to be a goal-oriented person when your house has suffered a natural disaster. You’re not in control anymore. Someone else is in control. Of your house, your home. And that’s making me crazy.

I can’t control when my roof will be fixed, when my floors will be replaced, when my kitchen will be put back together, when I can move back into my home.

I used to love looking at Instagram late at night. I followed lots of “home design” accounts: beautifully styled spaces where I got ideas for my own house.  Now, I can’t even open the app without feeling like sobbing.

So I joined Weight Watchers instead.

Instead of scrolling through pictures of perfectly styled kitchens and living rooms late at night, now I’m obsessed with low-calorie recipes and “before/after” photos by people who have lost 100 pounds. I can’t get enough of them.

Losing a few pounds feels like something I can accomplish versus fixing my house with its ripped-out walls and gutted kitchen.

The question is, what will happen first? Will I lose 10 pounds or get back into my house?

I really hope it’s my house, but I have a feeling it won’t.

The contractor said 60 days.

But I think he was being optimistic. We’re still waiting on the estimate from our insurance, which is slowing everything down. The contractor started patching the roof last week because I begged him to, but we have no money to pay him. I had to fight to get an advance from the insurance, but that will only cover last week’s work, not the next. Everything is moving so slowly, while inside, I’m screaming, all the time.

I’m trying to be happy here, in our temporary apartment. I try to tell myself I’m on vacation.

There is a pool with jets. There is a gym that I’m actually using.

The kids love everything and think it’s an adventure. They run through the sprinklers on Sundays. I took them night swimming the other night and Henry said, “It is so beautiful. I never knew it could be this beautiful.”

He’d never been night swimming before.

Sonetimes it feels like an adventure. But most of the time it feels like what it is: a waiting room.

But it’s the pointlessness of the entire experience that is making me most crazy. It’s like when my son asks me, “Why?”

Why did a tree fall on our house and ruin everything?

Why do anything when everything is just going to be ruined anyway?

I loved everything about that house. I loved the view. I loved the window seats from the bedroom. I loved the sun room and the decks and the water. I loved all of it.

We will move back into it, eventually. Although I don’t know when.

I’m worried that when we do move back in, I won’t love it anymore like I used to, with abandon.

I feel wary of it now, like a boyfriend who has betrayed me.

You broke my heart, I want to say. You didn’t protect me. Which was your purpose.

But at the same time all I can think is: I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.

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