Home Is Where The Horror Is
My life has become a living Stephen King novel. Below me are indiscriminate sounds of banging and smashing. The deep, guttural shouts of men float among the chaos. I am trapped in an upstairs bedroom with two dogs who have long since given up. We are no longer surprised when a sudden burst of mechanical grinding explodes into the air. There is no stopping it.
We are re-doing our kitchen.
Five years ago, when we first found this house, we knew that we were in for a project. The first tour we took revealed a maddening floor plan. The original house had several expansions added. The difference between the two was like touring two different houses. The upstairs bedroom was somehow split into three different rooms. The copper pipes that once lined the walls had long since been stolen. Random light switches had tape over them, with the words “DO NOT USE” written in sharpie.
It was a fixer-upper, to say the least.
But my husband, like me, is stubborn. We were convinced that with time and love, we could make this house our own. And now, we are taking on the largest project to date: Gutting out and redoing the entire kitchen.
We both hated the kitchen from the start. We took personal insult to the dated cabinets and the cheap white countertops. We are cooking people. And we knew that we would be spending a lot of time creating meals there. But other pressing matters needed fixed before we could even dream of fixing up the kitchen. We quickly learned that homeownership is an ongoing and never-ending endeavor.
The process has been long. First, my husband knocked down one of the walls in the bedroom and replaced the entire floor upstairs. We slept on the sofa in the living room for a month. In that time, he discovered the surprising shortcuts that the previous owners used, such as cardboard stapled to plywood and other scary fixes. We replaced the laundry room and added a water softener. There was no heat when we moved in. For the first year, we survived on spaced heaters. The next year we found a wood stove. This past year, we finally installed cooling and heating units. The living room wall had to be re-insulated before that.
We are fortunate to have a good friend who is a contractor. He is none other than my fellow hiker and LBFC member, Foolhardy. Best friends with my husband since grade-school, it was Foolhardy who swooped in and redid the upstairs bathroom. It was a bathroom that remained useless since my father-in-law attempted to do it himself. We had one bathroom for four long years.
We are by no means experts at house projects, even now. But I have learned to live in the upended world of these projects. I now face the challenge of not having a proper place to cook for the foreseeable future. Our living room will morph into the temporary kitchen. One table will house the necessary tools for preparing meals; the microwave, the toaster oven, my coffee maker, and plastic utensils. A hot plate is on its way.
The whole house is shaking right now, shivering with whatever instrument Foolhardy is using on the floors. My husband came up to tell me that under the layer of the wood floor, there was an old linoleum floor. Underneath that, they found a hidden layer of carpet beneath the subfloor! If they tell me they’ve found an old book with pictures of the previous tenants, I might have to leave. But for now, I will endure the music of mallets and hammers and buzz-saws for the dream of a kitchen.
When it’s all over, I imagine it will be like the end of the movie hinting at the sequel. The camera will pan out. You see our silhouettes embracing against the backdrop of the shiny new kitchen. And then the camera will keep moving. The audience will walk along another part of the house. Ominous music plays. The last shot will focus on a darkened room. A new room. The next project that will haunt us.