Memories of the first time I walked through my home have washed over me this week…. in small part due to the nearness of my third anniversary of moving here…in larger part, due to the onset of our main bath remodel a week ago.
So what have I been thinking? Bittersweet thoughts, mostly. About how starting this bathroom project means that I’ve finally reached the bottom of a very, very long to-do list. About how happy and fulfilling these last three years in my life have been… whilst fixing and “uppering” this and that. Even when not actually working on such tasks, I was planning and imagining all the lovely and not-so-lovely details of some succeeding project…one or two rungs down the list.
All this as a way of confessing that I’ve never been happier living anywhere, anytime… and I write this with eyes wide open, at the risk of trivializing all that’s good that has come before. Who can say where and how such deep feelings are born? Only that they are, and that sometimes, love and affection for some special person or place or thing… followed almost immediately by a sense of responsibility and commitment towards it…. rises up within us… almost at first sight… often without realizing it till later.
The immense joy felt from the birth of children and grandchildren….is somewhat akin to the joy I’ve felt while remodeling and living in this sixty-three year old house and its surrounding gardens. It’s as if the love and appending commitment I bear for this home… is weighty enough to live and breathe on its own… very much like children and grandchildren… separate and apart from me.
Surely, the power of such feelings cannot help but redefine and reshape and remodel me… and what I once believed true about myself and my preferences. How easy tastes can change with times and circumstances. Up until it happened, I never “in a million gazillion years” imagined myself living in a fifties California Ranch. Until, that is, my need for a one-story arose. Until I noticed that lingering for-sale sign, in front of what seemed a well-cared-for buff-colored limestone house situated on a corner. Until attending its Open House. Until stepping on the worn marble-tiled floor of the small entry, and hearing for the very first-time, the snappy plop of a sixty-year old spring-loaded screen door closing behind me. I always wanted to live in a house on a corner, I remember thinking.
“All it needs is a lot of love,” I later told my husband, while walking out the door towards our car. As I rattled off the many remodeling possibilities on the way home, my husband countered with talk of “paybacks” and “exit strategies” and “economics.” While he spoke of being sensible… of making wise choices… of the do-WE-really-want-to-buy a house only to REDO every square inch of it…. I thought of color schemes… and weighed whether to go retro in style… or bring the place into the twenty-first century, with a small nod to its glorious fifties past.
Economics wasn’t part of the equation… my husband eventually understood. Somewhere between that sweet sense of nostalgia felt while standing in the small entry… and smelling the not-so-sweet scent of leaking gas from the living room fireplace… I knew I wanted to live here. It didn’t matter that the house had seen better days…. that much of its fifties fabulousness had been stripped away by previous and (somewhat recent) kitchen and main bath remodels.
Previous owners surely must have imagined their remodel as a step in the right direction…. just as I have with mine. But what joy I take…. in that no one ever quite got around to undertaking a wholesale remodel of our utility bath. Would you believe it still has all of its original tile work, including a cute cubby of a built-in shower that reminds me of the very one I used as a child.
Oh, the memories… they do wash over me.
I can’t believe it’s been three years.On the other hand, I’m amazed at how much I remember — except I just realized I’ve mixed up memories of your sister’s house and yours. (It was your sister’s house, yes?)
What makes me laugh is that first photo of the bath, up at the top of the post. If you opened the door to the main bath in the house my folks built in 1957 (?), that’s exactly the view you’d have. Same window, same cabinetry with mirror, toilet in the same position. There were sliding glass shower doors built into the tub on the right. And there was lots of pink. And there were narrow shelves built up from the end of the cabinet to the ceiling. Ivy grew there very nicely.
We do live in a reciprocal relationship with our spaces, whatever they are. Strangely, it’s the view that keeps me where I am, even though it’s not wise economically. I could live in a smaller space (I have 840 sq feet here) and I could well do with a couple hundred dollars less in rent (that view costs!) But as long as I can keep working, I can afford to watch the sunset over the water every night, and watch the storms roll in from your neighborhood in the winter.
Oh, and I just realized something. You’re going to renovate your house, and that process of renovating gives me opportunity to use the word renovation, which I recently learned I’ve been misspelling my whole life! Yep. I was caught in the grip of the deadly “rennovation” error. Keep us updated on your project, and I can use it some more!
Nothing wrong with your memory, Linda. Yes, I helped Sis renovate our parent’s place, that she inherited on Dad’s death, …. would you believe four years ago? I wrote quite a bit about that renovation… but, strangely, very little about the work on my own home… which began a year later. Why is that… I wonder…?
Reading again your memories of your chlldhood bath… circa 1957…. underlines all over again the details young minds can capture. We are so awake when young…. very little escapes our notice. Many bathrooms in the fifties, like yours, weren’t afraid of using color. Pink sinks, tubs and toliets? Bring it on! The more, the better.
Which, more than anything about the remodeled bathroom we “inherited,”, is what I felt missing… but maybe I will write more about this remodel currently underway. I’ve actually hired this one out… which means I’m somewhere between a fan on the sildelines cheering on her crew… and a coach…. walking on the field to give direction.
And as for your “room with a view,”…. worth every pretty penny…. I’m thinking…
I have some memory of your packing in the old house and moving into this one, and all the renos afterwards. The title of a movie comes to mind. “Life as a House”. The metaphor works both ways too, doesn’t it? House as a life… what we do with our dwelling place reflects a life. Your post has so eloquently revealed this truth. I’m glad for you to have found the ideal house, the right place for you to establish a home for yourself, to live and enjoy life. I truly admire your situation. Thanks for sharing such a blessing with us.
If this post has blessed you, then that makes me happy. Thank you for thinking so.
But from watching the trailer of “Life as a House,” it’s you, Arti, I feel….that will end up sharing the greater blessing with me. For the record, I’ve no problem with this!
This film is right up my alley… so to speak. Makes me wonder how may great films I must have missed during my “taxing” career days, when the best of life competed for whatever time I had left over from my day job. Life is much richer now… even though the back account is less full. Ironic how life often works. Isn’t it?
Just as we’re talking about worthy films as art and inspiration, there’s this one on my current post: Ida. You’ll see something aesthetically stunning and thought-provoking, artful production. Only 80 mins. long but a powerhouse of a film. Check it out in your city’s art house theatre.
Just read your review of the film,… funny about that phrase “spoiler alert”… especially when words that follow the “alert” spoil nothing… but rather, leave me inspired to experience the film, also.
So, yes, Arti, it is another film I’d very much like to see. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’ll think of it as your “inspiration alert.”
Since its 3-day run at our MOA begins the day we leave for vacation, I look forward to catching up with it later… on Netflix.
You’re too kind. Thanks for the encouragement (‘inspiration alert’ will now become my motto, some I’ll aspire to every time I write 😉 ). As for the film, wonder if it will come back to your theatre again. I think seeing it on the big screen with its intended classic b/w styling and framing could have the effects that Netflix can’t offer. But I can understand, films I miss in our art-house theatre hardly come by again…
Can one be too kind?
Was I…in this particular case…, by simply confessing the truth, according to me.
No, I think not. To all questions, NO resounds.
But I like the thought of how speaking truth can be regarded as kind. It reminds me of St. Paul’s admonition to speak “the truth in love.” And if I remember correctly… kindness and love are both listed as fruits of the same Spirit….
…cousins to joy and gentleness and goodness… and self-control and what were the other three? I cannot recall… “write” at this moment….except that now, I recall, one of the missing three. Peace,
Time flies, doesn’t it?
Glad you’re still happy there. x
And so is my husband, Viv.
I can’t say why it is, but I’d never felt at home in one of three previous places we called “home,”… until living here. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s this lovely fifties place I feel blessed to care for…. or some combination of the two. I just know I’m home. And it’s been rewarding to update this place. To do so, gives this place a new lease on life… and at the same time, offers me a new lease, too.
I do wonder, sometimes, who will live here next… what changes they’ll keep, if any… whether the gardens will live on or be converted back to lawn….
Time flies, yes. These three years feel like feathers in my hand. They weigh nothing, in the space of eternity before me. My questions will be answered…. in good time.
Good to hear from you. Glad you are “hearing” voices in your head….