I walked down the hall
and stopped like I'd hit the wall.
I have been boxing things and painting things and fixing things, but the sight of a new switch plate cover stopped me in my paint-spattered, barefooted tracks.
When Guy and I bought this house, we had a new-home-buyer's nightmare on our hands. The previous owner had actively and deceptively hidden severe "pet damage" (meaning she would leave her dog and cat in the house all weekend while she went away for days, turning it into a 1600 square-foot litter box, and then covered every obvious trace of the damage with paint, carpet-fresh and air-freshener plug-ins). Once we were moved into the house, and the intense cinnamon smell aired out, the vile and musky reality of our new situation began wafting out of the carpet and drywall. We were the proud owners of a kennel.
A real estate lawyer reviewed or claim and told us that the risk of losing our case was 50-50, and recommended that we invest our money, time and energy into fixing our house, and not fighting a very-possibly losing battle. He said he would go to bat for us on principal, but that principals could get expensive, and that ultimately a person who would do this to a family would not learn any sort of lesson, even if she lost. "Don't worry though," he assured us, "She'll eventually get what she deserves, because people like her always do. It doesn't have to be at the cost of your peace."
He refused the $250 consultation fee.
"You kids go home and use that money to fix up your house. It's going to be okay."
We spent months, years really, repairing the damage, in some places removing drywall and even treating saturated studs. We ripped out every thread of carpet, and scrubbed and sanitized and painted. Every dime we had went to making the place livable. We certainly wanted to put our own touches on things, and did here and there when we could afford to, but the two things I remember actually indulging in were a good wool rug for the living room
and light switch covers.
Copper light switch covers.
I love copper. It reminds me of my sweetie's hair, back when it was more red than grey. It has warmth and light and depth, and a certain dignity to it.
Again, like my sweetie.
And let's face it, it's not plastic.
It was our own little stamp on the house that made it ours.
So when I walked down the hall last week and saw Guy placing the last screw in a plain off-white plastic switch cover, my heart dropped. Up until that moment everything I was doing was really just following through with repairs and updates I had always planned on making. We were already planing to repaint the kid's rooms new colors. We knew the bathroom floor needed repairs. A new front door has been long overdue.
But this was the first change to our little house that was not something we would have done for ourselves. Of course, I could have left copper plates here, but they are coming with me to my new house,
a house that I've never seen before,
on walls that I cannot picture.
"We're really moving, aren't we?" I asked Guy, tears pooling.
Yes we are.