Last Sunday marked an anniversary for Joan and me. On July 23, 1993, we moved into our dream home.
It wasn’t actually finished yet. But the builder assured us we could move in on July 23. He likes to keep his promises. So he had the inside of the house ready for us. Dust and sawdust swept out. Appliances installed. Walls painted. Carpet laid.
We had driven across the country from Toronto in a little Honda Accord for five days. The car’s trunk was stuffed full of suitcases. The back seat bristled with houseplants.
And with two traumatized cats. Who weren’t used to car travel. Especially not for eight hours a day. They spent the first day squawking incessantly. Cats can put quite an irritating tone into their voices when they want to.
After the first day, however, they went—pardon the pun—catatonic. Minds and metabolisms shut down. They ate and drank next to nothing. One of them preferred to travel with her head buried in my armpit.
The car became their cave, their security blanket, their safe place. On one occasion, we thought they might like to get out in a little park. They leaped right back into the car.
They were quite relieved to have solid floors underfoot that didn’t jiggle and vibrate.
But there was still work to be done outside.
The first night in our new house, the skies opened. Like Genesis, we had waters above and waters below. Our house had no downspouts yet. Rain sluiced off the roof all night. Right outside our bedroom window. Our bladders responded sympathetically.
As a result, we were up early the next dawn. Which was just as well, because the construction crew arrived to start work about 7 a.m., to take advantage of the cool air and early sunlight. We got to know them quite well over the next weeks. Especially since our windows didn’t have blinds yet.
We’ve spent the next 24 years—the longest we have ever lived in the same place—making gradual improvements, inside and outside. We’ve replaced appliances that broke down. We’ve upgraded carpets to hardwood. We planted trees and flowers.
I expect we will continue making improvements, as long as we can.
A dream therapist told me once that when I dream about a house, I’m dreaming about myself. Maybe so. Certainly houses and personalities have parallels.
When I was born, I moved into an unfinished house. I’ve been building it ever since.
When I got my first job, when I got married, when we had children, we needed to add rooms to match our new responsibilities.
When I retired, I closed off several rooms of my “house.”
Now, as I draw closer to my final years, I’m comfortable with my life-house. But it still needs occasional work. Some of the original fixtures don’t work as well as they once did. (Thank God for eyeglasses and hearing aids!)
Over the years to come, I may have to remove some personal walls. Or to open some doorways. I’ll have some new ideas to plant, some old weeds to pull.
I’m not prepared to let “this ole house” slide into disrepair yet.
Author Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country: email@example.com