It’s been 81 days since a storm sent three trees crashing into my house and sent my family of four packing.
Here’s what our house looks like right now: a total wreck.
Here’s how I’m reacting to it: as a total wreck.
I keep it together, mostly. I go to work, I take care of my two young sons, I pack their lunches, I get them to school on time. I go to work and I haven’t missed one deadline.
But inside, I’m a total mess. I think about it all the time. I feel bad about it, all the time.
When I go to the house to check on its progress, I feel worse. It is such a disaster inside: all the walls have been ripped out, all the rooms have been gutted. A good percentage of my belongings have been thrown in the trash.
I try not to think about it. But it’s everywhere: it’s my whole life.
When the leaves started to change color, I felt this crazy panic and I didn’t know why, at first, but now I do.
It’s because we don’t get to spend it in the house.
I’ve been dreading the arrival of fall because it’s my favorite month, especially in the house: having fire pits on Friday nights and watching the leaves turn colors. The kids could play outside while I worked or cooked in the kitchen and my husband would watch football and all would seem right with the world.
Fall is such a great time to be a homeowner, truly.
(Aside from the raking of the leaves, of course, that is the worst).
But instead, we’re living in a temporary apartment, with no backyard or room to play, waiting and waiting and waiting for our house to get fixed.
The kids have been pretty great about it. Every new stop has been an adventure for them.
Although my eldest son Henry is now terrified of storms and that’s been challenging. He’s obsessed with the weather and checking the weather app on my phone to see if another storm is coming.
I know what he’s trying to do, just the same as I am: he’s trying to control something he can’t. And it makes you sort of mental.
I read an article once that said the most successful people in life are the ones who can adapt to any situation. According to the survey of most successful people, the ones who saw themselves as successful were the ones who could adapt to change, to the challenges that life threw them – like divorce, new jobs, loss of loved ones.
The ones who were the richest weren’t the happiest.
I’ve always known that. I’m trying really hard to adapt to this situation, but it is hard.
I’m trying to keep my cool, but I’m so uncool. I loved that house so much and I just want everything to go back to the way it was. It is really hard not to go crazy over it.
Exercising helps. Long walks help. Getting out and doing stuff helps. Not just sitting here and waiting helps.
I’ll admit: buying stuff to replace all the things that were lost helps. We lost over 200 items in the storm, from the kitchen table to the toaster oven. Talking about buying new stuff helps too. It gives me hope.
Every cent I owned went into that house, so I haven’t had much money to fix it up. I was just happy to be there and knew that I would update the home, eventually. Item by item. My kitchen was on a 20-year-fix-it-plan, but now we get to fix it in one full swoop, and that’s pretty exciting.
I’ll write more about the renovation process next.
I also wrote a column about what the last two months have been like for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. You can read it here.
But in the meantime, I’m just crossing my fingers that another tree doesn’t fall on my house or that it gets flooded with water from all this rain or something equally catastrophic happens.
I’m still hoping that we’ll get to move back in by Thanksgiving, although that seems like a mathematical impossibility at this point. Still, I hope.