Firstly, I would like to thank all y'all Gentle Readers for your patience. Hurricane Harvey has put me out of commission for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that we have had no internet for 2 weeks. My sons had been doing fine with all the flood upheaval, but that's when they lost it - "Take me now, Lord," Younger shouted, looking heavenward when I explained that we would have no TV, no computer, no nothing for about 15 days. Anyway, whence last we spoke, I was telling you a flood tale, how my home took in some water, but I was showing wonderful perspective and resilience, and, dare I say, grit.
Y'all, that went out the window the following week.
I won't go into the excruciating detail. Here's the thing you need to know: I really, honest-to-goodness thought that I would be living in my home during the remodeling process. As Daffy Duck would say, "It is to laugh." And I am sort of laughing at my naive self of 4 weeks ago. But not very much. I still feel kind of sorry for 4 weeks ago me. Steve, my contractor, who also doubles as one of my husband's and my best friends, told me that everything needed to be packed up, that removing drywall and floors and then replacing them is really messy.
"There will be dust everywhere. Get all of this up! You should probably move out."
Hmmm, dust, shmust, I thought. And, move where? We have power, the kitchen works, we're fine. His wife, my friend, Gigi, showed up the next day with chocolate chip cookies, her daughter and 5 of her daughter's friends, who were all named Taylor. "We're here to help you pack." Those 6 little girls moved through my home, packing up books and whatnot like tween machines. "Also," she confided, "I'm here to convince you to move. You cannot stay here during the remodeling."
That evening, my friend, Rebecca came over with dinner. In her very kindest voice, Rebecca told me that my house smelled bad, and that, really, truly, I must move out. I wish I could tell you how some inner, British stiff-upper-lip gene just shone through. But it did not. Because I'm not British, and my upper lip is kind of soft and mushy, and around 4:00 in the morning it was quivering while I cried. If you don't know, Flood Insurance, which I have, doesn't cover rental/moving expenses, and I was intensely distressed, faced with this outcome that I had not anticipated. Workmen in my house for the next 2-3 months - no problem. Mess, general upheaval - yawn, show me something I don't know, playa. But packing up my house, like I'm moving, and then actually moving and paying rent - that all sent me into a full on freak out. The good news, I suppose, is that one cannot stay in such a position of absolute anguish, so the next day I started looking for a place to live. Guess who else is looking for an apartment in Houston right now? EVERYONE! And guess who else is calling up moving companies? EVERYONE!
It was my mom who reminded me that I have a friend with a home down the street, on the only block in my neighborhood that didn't flood (this block sits a foot higher than the rest of the neighborhood; I've never noticed that before, but now I positively get nose bleeds when I walk here), and that home is empty. My friend has been renting out this house up until this year and is currently considering remodeling it. Only I called her instead, "Hi, you can totally say NO, but can I move into your home?" She said yes. Oh, happy day! I immediately call her leasing agent, "Hi, can we move in this weekend?" Now I've never rented a house before, but I suspect going through the normal channels takes longer than 1 day, and now I know why. I mean, on a normal, non-flood disaster day, I bet the leasing agent checks out the house, sees what's working, what's not, hires a cleaning crew, etc., especially for a house that has been unoccupied for over a year. But I wanted the house NOW, and this leasing agent was already running frazzled, trying to take care of his other flooded rental properties and those tenants. What I'm saying is that we're all operating under some pretty tense circumstances and allowances need to be made for all of us. Still, when I called him to say that the A/C was not working, and could it be fixed before the weekend, his response caught me off guard.
"Just turn the A/C on."
"There is no power showing in the electronic A/C panel, Sir. I can't turn it on. It's not working."
"Well, have your husband take a look at it, and if it's still not working, I'll have someone come out and take a look at it."
Umm, was I just man-splained? I work in a preschool with only other women, so while I've heard of man-splaining, I've never actually dealt with it. Thank you, Harvey, for providing me with yet another, heretofore unknown experience. The worst part is that I did, indeed, worry that I was doing the A/C wrong, and my husband would just flick a button, and whole system would roar to life. So, the triumph was real when my husband pronounced the A/C to be definitely broken. "My husband is a lawyer, for crying out loud," I complained righteously the next day, "and he doesn't even specialize in A/C law!"
I now had 2 days to pack my entire house. Enter Rebecca, she of the kind voice. Not only can Rebecca tell me what's what without hurting my feelings, she can also double as a sort of Squadron Commander. She showed up with her daughter, our friend Kitty, Kitty's daughter, and by lunch time, my kitchen, bedroom, and study were packed, labeled and ready to go. DIY Maven Ann came over that afternoon and finished what was left.
Moving Day was interesting as moving days always are. I knew that I wasn't being moved first thing in the morning, but I was surprised when I got a phone call around 3:00:
"Ma'am, we'll be there around 8:00."
"In the evening?"
I called the moving company.
"Hi, I thought I was 2nd on the list?"
"No, ma'am, you're 3rd on the list. Oh, but I do have another moving team on stand-by. Is Luis okay?"
Seriously? Like, what am I going to say, "Who is this Luis, and who are his people?" No, of course not. I said that Luis sounded delightful, please send him over. An aside: Do you need to move? Call Three Men Movers and ask for Luis, Ariel and Ricardo. They moved us in 4 hours, 15 minutes, finishing, actually, by the time the original team would have just started rolling out their dollies.
So, now we're in the rental house. And that's when we discovered we had no hot water.
Monday morning I called the gas company.
"I would like some gas, please."
"Oh, dear, no one has lived in this house for over a year."
"Quite. I would like some gas, please."
"Well, you're going to need to obtain a permit from the City."
"Yes, you'll need to call a plumber. He'll need to do an inspection and then request a permit. And then we can send someone over to turn on the gas."
"Good morning, Mr. Leasing Agent..." Only, I made my husband call him. Just to save us a step.
Still, it took a while...
So, it's just like college, when you would leave your dorm room with a shower caddie to walk to the communal bathroom, only sort of a longer walk. For perspective I called my friend, Amy, who works for World Vision. "I bet women in the rural villages of Africa would give anything to walk just 2 blocks for a hot shower, right?" "Absolutely," Amy enthused, "World Vision doesn't actually put water in homes. Walking 7 minutes instead of 7 miles is just a miracle." See, it's just a matter of perspective. And then Amy added, "But that's Africa; this is Houston. When are you getting hot water?"
As of this writing, we do have hot water, and it will be a while before I take 7 paces to the shower for granted.
I would also like to say that Steve my contractor, Gigi, and Kind Rebecca were all absolutely correct. My home is currently a demolition disaster. On one of our shower nights, my sons thought that our kitchen counters (soon to be demo'ed) were covered in parchment paper, but no, it's just super thick dust. So, I was wrong shmrong about the dust shmust.
Do you need some grit? I have loads to spare.
Some days I feel really okay, other days I feel like a hot mess with lipstick.