I was writing an upcoming post for The Stir about the utter grossness of sharing a bathroom with the boys, which got me reminiscing, a little sadly, about our wonderful bathroom back in Seattle. It was the product of our first remodel, which included expanding a bedroom, adding a garage, and replacing the master bath with a completely new structure. There was a jetted corner tub, two entirely separate counters, a pretty blue-and-green tiled shower.
We all use the same functional but decidedly unluxurious bathroom now, thanks to the strangely tiny bath that’s tacked onto our current bedroom. It’s minuscule, it leaks, it has no storage, it always smells like fifty-year-old mildew. We have dreams of adding on to that side of the house, but it’s unlikely that will happen any time soon, if ever. Things are different — we don’t have the same salaries we used to, we don’t have the same confidence in the value of such an investment. We made our money back on our last house, but not by much. We were very, very lucky we didn’t take a major loss.
Remodels and upgrades take money, or at least the willingness to increase your home loan, and we are living much more conservatively these days. Moving to Eugene has brought so many good changes, and while I certainly don’t enjoy worrying (or arguing) about money, I also feel like it’s beneficial in some ways that certain things are just completely off the table now. Does that make sense? I feel like that sounds idiotic — being broke is SUPER! I guess I just mean that I think the soul-sucking I-want cycle is much harder to resist when you can afford to take part in it.
Where was I? Right, anyway, the house. We did what we could afford to do before we moved in, but there are no short-term plans for any other major changes. Even small things, as we’ve learned, can turn into surprisingly complicated — and sometimes expensive — endeavors. (Nothing in this house is easy, I swear to god. Even replacing the hardware on the cabinets ended up being a giant clusterfuck because the prior owners had superglued them in.)
So it is what it is, and much of it isn’t ideal. Our kitchen is unattractive and awkwardly designed. Our washing machine and dryer are out in the garage. The sunroom is too cold during the winter months. The ‘family room’ is dark and dated and in dire need of a door for the odd-sized doorway. The bedrooms all have tiny windows. Every fixture and every light is mismatched and fugly.
But: our living room is spacious and well-suited for visiting family. Our bedrooms are clustered at the end of a hall, all of us held close together each and every night. Our kitchen is roomy enough for a comfy table where we sit for our meals, talking and laughing and likely as not, spilling crap all over the floor. And look where we are! God, right here in the town we’ve been trying to get to for years and years.
We got our Christmas tree this weekend, and I realized something: I have always, always dreamed of a house where you could see the lit-up tree in the front window.
The thing is, everything we have in our lives, it’s all so good. The surface details? It’s just I-want stuff. I remember an odd side effect of living through our previous remodels: it was so hard to stop. If you were going to be spending all that money on new countertops, why not have granite? If you’re going to redo the entire bathroom, why not have those awesome heated floors? And on and on it goes, leaving you with a permanent yearning for even greener grass.
Be happy with what you’ve got is the lesson of this house. I’m learning to listen.
(Except for the pee on the toilet seat. I’m never going to get zen about that bullshit.)