Letting the Days Go By

I’d expected to feel proud, excited, maybe even a little scared, when we moved into our first home. Instead, I felt defeated.

I knew our place would still be under construction when we moved in. The plan was that the bathroom would be done and the kitchen would still have a few weeks to go. But two weeks before our move-in date, the bathroom didn’t even seem close to being finished, and the rest of the place didn’t seem inhabitable either.

The toilet was in the living room along with old pipes, boards, beams and construction debris. The dining room had been used as a wood shop and sawdust covered all of the decorative woodwork. Our bedroom was a staging room for the tile work that still needed to be done, and there were even more supplies outside on the deck.

We managed to push our move back an extra week — squeezing in a few more days out of our landlord, rescheduling the movers, and getting Mr. WholeHog’s weekend shifts covered — and we called in reinforcements. My parents came down (twice) to help take all the construction debris in the living room to the dump. While we were at work, my mom helped with packing and waited for our sink to be delivered and my dad cleaned up all the sawdust in the dining room.

It was a terrible, stressful time, without even the Beasties to help me through it. I tossed and turned at night, kept up by visions of us having to use the port-a-potty and wash our faces with the garden hose. Mr. WholeHog would fall right to sleep, but when I woke up in the morning, I’d find him wide awake, staring at the ceiling. “What are you thinking about?” I asked. “The house,” he said.

The stress didn’t go away after we moved in, it just changed. Although the bathroom had come together in the nick of time (the sink, faucet and tub fixtures were installed on Friday; we moved in Saturday morning), the place was still far less ready than I’d anticipated. We weren’t just living with out a kitchen, we were living without a bedroom, too. We spent the first month in our new home sleeping in the dining room, surrounded by our dining room table, the desk, dresser, hutch and stacks of boxes. We walked narrow paths through the boxes and furniture to the couch, the bed and the closet. We didn’t unpack any boxes; we lived out of them. It was more like living in a garage or a storage unit, than in a home.

And amid all this upheaval, the work continued. Our contractor still had questions and we still had decisions to make: How big did we want this drawer? Did we want one shelf or two? What paint color had we chosen? What size was the kitchen sink? What sort of trim should go around the doorways? How thick should the countertop be? Had we chosen lights for the kitchen? How far above the stove should the hood be installed? Had we ordered the windows? Would the trim be painted the same color as the walls?

Between all the stuff and stress that we lived with and the relentless work of the remodel, I retreated from the things I normally pursue, including this blog. Why write when I had nothing positive to say? Why go to the farmers market when we had no kitchen to cook in? Why go work on the farm when I’d have to rearrange the boxes and furniture in our already chaotic living space just to find a sunhat or work clothes?

I didn’t reach out to anyone either. I didn’t even send an email to friends or family to let them know that we’d moved. I didn’t want to fake any enthusiasm about how things were going, and I was afraid that if I sent out our new address, someone might stop by and see the state we were living in.

The best I could do was simply try get through each day — get up, go to work, come home, go to bed; get up, go to work, come home, go to bed — and that’s where I’ve been these last few months, just trying to get through one day to the next.

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