Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If I Had A Hammer

When I was asked to write about building a  house with my boyfriend, and how we’re keeping it together (our relationship, not the house) I starting thinking about how easy it’s been. Then again, I’m comparing it to the last time I owned a house with a man. Let’s call him my ex-husband. So really, anything short of divorce feels like I’m ahead of the game.

When my ex-husband and I decided to buy a house, I wasn’t exactly excited by the idea. I was hesitant and knew deep down that I didn’t want a house (kind of like how I knew deep down that I never wanted to be married). Somehow, I instinctively knew that being a homeowner wasn’t to be taken likely. Not like having a baby. We were having a house!

I didn’t want the responsibility. Being a dog owner was about as responsible as I wanted to get. Most of the time I have just enough bandwidth to go food shopping and showering, let alone, grouting, gardening, and painting. But I stupidly agreed, ignoring the little voice inside of me, which was screaming the loudest, “STOP, don’t do it. It’s wrong. You’re wrong.” In the end, I succumbed to peer pressure, just like I did when I said, “I do.”

My ex assured me that it would be our house and that we’d share the responsibility. We’d be partners in the endeavor. Bullshit! It was like talking to a five year old when they want a dog, “Please, please can I have one? Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. You won’t have to do anything. Trust me.”

I resented my ex-husband for the remainder of our marriage, which dragged on for another year. A year where I watered a lawn that I never wanted, and fixed endless garage doors and gates that I grew to hate. I was angry at him for lying to me and pushing me into something that was based on false pretenses. I was also angry at myself for not listening to my gut. That was never going to happen again.

And it didn’t. This time around is different. For one thing, my boyfriend and I aren’t married, so there’s no chance of divorce. How’s that for maturity? I was very honest and clear about my feelings regarding building a house. It’s my boyfriend’s dream to have a beach house, not mine. I could rent for the rest of my life. I don’t look at a house as anything other than another place to do laundry.

I’m an active participant, and we’re picking out plumbing fixtures and windows together, but my boyfriend has taken the lead, which he’s done with aplomb. This is important to me because the last time a house was involved, I tended to use it as an excuse. I couldn’t possibly write, or work on the artistic endeavor that I was involved in at the time. I had to make a Home Depot run for steel wool, so I could clean the rust off of the antique kitchen cabinet handles. Clearly that was more important goddam it!

Speaking of kitchen cabinets. We hired an Amish man to build our cabinets. He’s a sweet man, and takes his Amishness very seriously. Since he can’t drive, he has a driver to chauffeur him around and he borrows a non-Amish person’s phone to call clients. I’m convinced that he’s crushing on me. He and my boyfriend were at the house a couple of weeks ago, reviewing the final measurements. When I walked through the temporary plywood front door, his face lit up like I was a spanking new horse and buggy.  He said, “What’s going on?” I replied, “My electricity. You?”

Through this current house process, I’m learning that nothing, not even a convection oven, or wood toilet seat cover, is worth getting my thong in a bunch over. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it has something to do with my boyfriend being able to change a lightbulb and acting like an adult. Or perhaps it could be that honesty really is the way to go.

I show up when I need to, make a decision when I’m asked to, and I’m not procrastinating, as evidenced by this article. I think the following exchange with the salesperson at Ferguson’s Plumbing and Builder Products sums up our attitudes best.

Saleswoman: “Do you have any idea what kind of bathtub that you’re looking for?”
Boyfriend: “The bathtub has to fit two people... possibly three.”
I smile mischievously.

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