Monday, September 29, 2008

Sing me sweet and sleepy all the way back home ....

We’re in. We’re in and we’re up. We’re in, we’re up, and we’re ready to resume our life as we recently knew it. We have upgraded to a 2.0 kind of life. Everything is a bit easier, there is more space, and there is always one room after the next. We are spread out and loving it. We are just coming back to normal after not having internet for what seemed like a very short lifetime … like the life span of caterpillar, but we felt it uniquely. We blossomed and grew wings. We now have the life we’ve been planning for all year. This evening saw us realize one tiny dream that we’d often speak of between us with glowing eyes. We rushed home from work and immediately settled ourselves on the upper porch. He in his man rocker and me in my girl rocker. He with his iPod and me with my book (Turgenev’s First Love). He with his cold beer and me with my glass of red wine. He and I together facing the sun and watching her set over the other exactly-the-same-looking-houses-but-with-different-colors; both of us feeling a great big calm and a sparkly sense of sweet satisfaction. We did it. We found comfort.

The cats were not happy at first. Not at all. They hated us. They hid behind the upstairs toilet in what must have been their secret fort. They growled and looked like old people as they glared hard at us with hate and all her armies venomously itching in their eyes. I imagine that we’ll have children one day that will hate us as much, maybe more. They did not like being uprooted from their familiar little lives in their familiar little apartment. They fought us greatly and hid from us like tiny feline Houdinis. We were constantly worrying our first day and a half. Little Bonita buried herself in blankets at all times. We hunted for her everywhere and would find her rolled up in a little ball in the middle of blankets that we’d piled in the guest room from the night before where we’d slept on an air mattress. She sits here now beside me, quite calm and alive with her eyes staring outside the library door onto the upper porch. She is an adventurer now. She explores. She is no longer bundled in blankets and hiding from the world. I imagine she is wearing a hat like Indiana Jones with her tail her trusty whip.

Our first night in the house saw the in-laws bombard us with their loving presence. My in-laws give me the quintessential in-law experience. They give me everything and more. I love that they ascended upon us our first evening with themselves and the middle brother and his girlfriend. I didn’t have to cook, but I did. Here we were, six family members settled all cozily in the middle of our mess. Laughter and family light radiating through the new home, filling it with what will be always. We gave her a good taste of what’s to come. I sautéed vegetables and warmed the rotisserie chickens my in-law’s had brought. While it was hectic cooking in a kitchen that was all pulled apart and missing most of its guts, I’d much rather have this kind of dinner than a dinner of ordering pizza where I do not get to wear an apron. It’s rather phony to wear an apron when you’ve simply ordered pizza. My first evening, I earned that apron. I owned it.

And Mr. Husband was the Hero of the hour every hour and every day. He solved many a puzzle and fought many a valiant battle. He figured out how to hook up the washer and dryer with the help of a neighbor. He went to Home Depot and bought hardware supplies. He sat on the laundry room floor and cut coils and shaped shiny silver stuff into the cosmos that give a laundry room its necessary working matter. He cut up a mountain of boxes and never complained when more boxes came to life and worked their way his way. He cleaned out the garage completely, allowing us to house both cars in the garage. That, some may say, is an incredible feat in its own right. We have BOTH cars in the garage with room to spare. He put dishes away and found clever little spots for all sorts of odd things. And in the end, he hooked up the computers so that we can both have piece of mind and share with other pieces of mind. So that we can both close the day on the upper porch—his thoughts folding and melting into mine as we find comfort in closeness in the calm of the night.
He in his rocker and me in mine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walking Through the End Result.

I am on week three of being sick. I had a chest cold followed by a lung infection. Now, I’m rocking an awesome head cold that comes with all the lovely mucus and coughing. Mr. Husband has been a constant nursemaid. He got the chest cold last week. Good man. He did not complain but continued to monitor and nurse his wife. Best man ever. He takes good care of me. We took a photo of ourselves while home from work sick this week. We are constantly in pajamas. Thera-Flu is our best friend. Nyquil is also in the race. We take care of each other between the coughing and sneezing. Marriage is the perk that makes us wipe each others’ noses.

We had to move our walk-through, the thing the builders call “orientation,” to Friday last week from Wednesday since we were close to death on Wednesday—we had to reschedule for health's sake. Conveniently, it seems the builder was not done with all the pretty changes we'd already pointed out needed to be made. Surely all will be in proper order on Friday. Don't call me Shirley. Go figure, we show up on Friday, the picture of somewhat health, and find that the stairs are not yet done. The big stickler. My stairs. We upgraded from the standard carpeted stairs to wooden stairs. This particular upgrade cost more than adding the reading nook with double doors to the living room. Seriously. That’s expensive. In this instance, those stairs had better sparkle. My mother-in-law, who, like my mother, is in the habit of killing me, imagines we’re going to die on these wooden stairs. Of course. If you have wooden stairs, this equals certain painful death on those stairs. Does Mr. Husband have some odd inclination of pushing women down stairs that I do not know about? Does Mrs. Mother-in-Law know this? Am I in danger? Seems so, but I still want those damn stairs to sparkle as my head crunches against them during my death fall. I’ll have that last brief moment of bliss as I think, “my stairs are beautiful.” Death will be sublime with my knowledge that my stairs sparkled so. Go ahead, push me.

All else is super awesome. We are overwhelmed with how beautiful the wood floors look and are impressed with how the wall colors no longer look like a complete circus. We will live with this and laugh like hyenas to annoy the neighbors. The holy column turns out to have been the best move ever—we have flow. We have openness. We have a world that can live and love in this space. We have built the home of our dreams for our first home. We are crazy and we are happy with the outcome. There is so much we will do in this house. We will have babies and continue to work on our careers. We will laugh (much) and love (always). We have space. Finally. Love in it, we will. My Mr. Husband has made all of this possible. I am forever grateful. We work together and make so much happen—this is the only way I ever want to be. With him, for us, together we build.

We are pleased with so many different decisions we made. We believe that our cats, the ones who rule us always, will also be pleased. Neither cat is familiar with stairs. Perhaps they will die young deaths on the stairs, or they will learn to whip up the stairs in great activity and chasing motifs. We cannot wait for Oliver and Nita to become familiar with the house. It will take them days; we realize this. But they will learn to love the faucets, the tile, the wooden stairs, and the long hallway. They will learn to live in this house and find great comfort in the many windows that look out on prey. Most of what we do is for them. Our fuzzy offspring.

And Mr. Husband and Mrs. Wife will learn how to make a family of humans in this house (we will turn away from our current family mode that includes felines for offspring). We will change our lives. When I wake in the mornings, and I think of this great big thing that Mr. Husband and I have set our lives upon, I have to remember, “this is an investment.” This is what it is. We will grow and learn and, hopefully, create something of a nest egg from this major life decision. Now, if only we can get rid of the snot and the coughing. We will, then, fully enjoy this great big change.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

She's a beaut, Clark!

We are three days away from our “walk-through,” which this builder calls an “orientation.” There’d better be tea and cookies available, if that’s what we’re calling it. The house is close. She’s a beaut! We’re still working with the shutters that pretty much solidify the fact that we’re not that good at picking colors. The decorator at our review kept exclaiming over how quickly we picked out our colors—apparently, other couples take a long time and deliberate and come back to again and again the choice to be made. We basically put one hand over our eyes and pointed. It wasn’t exactly like that, but the outcome will argue for the fact that we pretty much might have done just that. Blindfolded and color-fooled. Color is not permanent. And we have a story. It’s a toss-up.

We went to visit the old girl on Friday night after work. We see that they have cleaned up the cabinets and countertops to the point where we can see no permanent damage has been done by paint and dust. We see our kitchen’s beautiful darkness come together with her stainless steel sink and funky gooseneck faucet. The faucet has a hose attached to the spout so that we can pretend we’re in a restaurant kitchen if we want—we can. There is one thing that disturbs us in our inability to pay attention to finite details. Somehow we overlooked putting a cable TV outlet in the kitchen. While we know we wanted this and discussed it at the plan review, the design that we signed has no cable TV outlet in the kitchen—it is our fault. We were careless. We signed. We didn’t pay close enough attention. We’re kicking ourselves relentlessly.

The master bathroom, while a little on the small side is narrow and long. She’s not yet been cleaned and doesn’t quite have that new house smell, but the sparkle is starting to show through. Two months ago, the builder ran out of the level I tile we picked for our master bath. When this happened, we were prepared, thanks to the Naro’s and their house-building experience where the builder ran out of their ganite. When this happened, I asked if we could be bumped up for FREE to Level II tile since the dark tile in our group was no longer available. I explained how we’ve designed a very dark interior and that the dark tile is necessary (i.e., we would die). They bumped us up to Level III tile and threw in the 18” tile as a bonus. The girl at the design center explained that the larger tile size makes the room look bigger. Well, we need that! And we did. And we are happy with the dramatic result.

We walked around the house, surveying our tiny bit of land and inspected the mailbox. We have a saying for getting mail—we call it “getting the joy.” Since all our bills are paid online, we do not get paper bills in the mail. Mail is simply a little bit of extra joy that comes each day. We, therefore, inspected our joy-catcher to find that she’s a perfect size and black and antiquey looking. We’re pleased with the “1541” that is so prominently displayed on her head. Her hinges work perfectly and her clasp will keep out the rain. Was there ever a finer joy-catcher? I’m sure the mail person will gladly deposit the joy and get a small piece of joy in return.

As I ran upstairs to survey the sunset from the upper porch that is completed with its painted ceiling, Mr. Husband shouted from below. Mr. Husband, it seems got into a bit of a scrape with a bit of scrap metal from the dirt pile next door. They wrestled and rolled around on the front lawn; neighbors poked their heads out from behind curtains. The entire street was in an uproar! I cheered Mr. Husband on as he limped to the porch's front step to assess his wounds. The nail from the piece of metal nearly did him in. I could smell the tetanus shot. He carefully seated himself on the front step as I watched from above in great anticipation. He was able to skillfully remove the Birkenstock and extract the nail and piece of metal. My Mr. Husband: Superhero! No little nail is going to keep him down! I was proud as any young wife would be—I cheered and documented the frightening moment that will live in our memories forever as the most harrowing nail-metal event ever.

Mr. Husband lives for another day. Callooh! Calais! He Lives! And we live together for the very near future when we’ll move in as a family with our two cats to live in our painted house with the bad color choices. Lesson learned. Take off the blindfold and think on it a while.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Go forth and spend money.

Labor Day. Instead of driving to Florida to play with Harold and mom and dad, where we would have had super fun worthy of a carnival, we stayed in Birmingham to hit up the local stores to stock up on stuff we need for the new house. Important stuff like a refrigerator and kitchen table that are essential to seeing our Thanksgiving Turkey Excellent Adventure come to fruition and not-so-important stuff like a chest of drawers that, while not being essential, will help us (we firmly believe) decrease the piles of clothes on the floor that are ever the bane of my existence (and totally my fault). In order to get the best possible use of our time, we dragged Nader and Hind along with us for our humorous enjoyment. Our helping-friendly Arabs were celebrating the start of Ramadan and enjoying their fast from all foods and tobacco products, but we were not scared. They helped tremendously—even if they didn’t realize it and were super hungry.

We met at Haverty’s and walked through the store together, testing couches and pointing out the ridiculous, which is anything we declare not within our taste brackets. It was fun and laughter and light. We eventually made our way up to the kitchen table that we’d had our eye on for months and months and months. The dang thing still didn’t go on sale. Ugh. But we look so perfect sitting around it and the lazy susan in the center is a selling point that Mr. Husband labels “clever” and the wine rack and shelves underneath the table make me dream of storage (and wine). The height is perfect for Mr. Husband’s giant legs to fold beneath, and we think we can raise a family on that table it’s so gosh darn perfect. That's a big table. Sold!

But in order to take advantage of the no interest deal, you have to buy more. That’s how they get you. That’s how we get suckered in. That’s what makes me cross my arms over my chest and what makes Mr. Husband bite his nails. We realize we must spend, but on what? Must make the best possible use of this money we must spend. Wine bar or chest of drawers? It was tough. And the saleslady was eager to encourage us—why not have it all? Look at the extra storage under the bed frame! See the velvet-lined drawers! Buy it now, or it may not be here next time! Everyone in the city has the same thing! (How that is a selling point, I’m not quite sure.) Buy! Buy! Buy! The world is your big fat Haverty’s oyster.

She was good to pressure us but also good to lay low and let us stare at each other with confused faces. Perplexed we were. And maybe we frightened her a bit we were so deep in thought. So we went to the Arabs who listened and nodded like good psychologists and didn’t offer an opinion one way or the other, for our Arabs would not have this debate—just buy it all! I talked it out with Nader and Hind by talking at them, the hungry nodding backboards, and we only took what is necessary to get the special deal. Close the deal. We selected a chest of drawers, which is one step toward replacing the current bedroom furniture that has sharp corners on it that like to stab me. Keep all sharp corners away from my legs that flash by without thought and hate to get stabbed. Clumsy is a virtue to be protected.

Next stop: refrigerator. Our first fridge. Our very own fridge. She must be ready and willing and perfect for magnets. She must have a purifier. She must have Diet Coke can holders and a special place for my veggies. She must have a removable shelf for the magnum of champagne that we’re sure we’ll buy one year for New Year’s Eve. Careful planning goes into a fridge. Mr. Husband decided earlier this week that he needs the French door design with the freezer on the bottom. Well, now, I wouldn’t want Mr. Husband to suffer or possibly die because Mrs. Wife doesn’t understand aesthetics. I do. I’m here for you, Mr. Husband! And I willingly agreed to the plan that upped our fridge basic price quite a bit. But she was perfect. Absolutely beautiful. And the salesman knocked $200 off the price. I didn’t know they could do that. (Surely, we’ve been had.)

Our fridge will be black to match our dark-side-of-the-moon kitchen. She will purr and serve perfect ice cubes and we will be satisfied with the fact that we struggled for over an hour longer at the store to ensure we got the 4% sales tax for the Inverness area instead of 7.5% for the Hoover area. As we left the store, Mr. Husband asked me, “how does it feel to be financially sound?” He is teaching me. I am learning. I have never been in charge of my finances—they have always been in charge of me. He has taught me the care of money management, and, now, we are enjoying the reward.

And, then, I bought shoes.