A long ramble

Me and The Man put up a saucepan rack in the kitchen today. It's very basic and very, very straightforward. (And of course I didn't think to get a photo of it in daylight.)

As I've gone about my daily business, several times I've looked at it and thought: I like it! I frickin' like it! It gets the saucepans out of where they've been in the way (toppling in the cupboard) and into where they're needed and functional - here. And all it took was half an hour of digging for some hooks, a board to cut to right length and some drilling.

And it's made me wonder about this house and my attitude towards it.

I know I've said it several times already, but when we moved in this place was an effin' sh*thole. Like, a proper, proper sh*thole - old stinky carpets, unkept floors, no curtains, no curtainrails for that matter, no heating, no insulation, spiderwebs and just, generally, years and years of grime. And I knew it was bad when we first signed the lease, but dear god did I have meltdowns over this place or what.

I mean... I don't know how many times I've done it, but many a time I've knelt on this kitchen floor here, crying and saying, I hate this house, I effin' HATE this house because I'm so tired, so tired ALL THE TIME!

And for a while, I mean... I was. For weeks or months or however long it took I was just scrubbing and fixing and wishing for summer when it got warmer and saying to myself, it'll be worth it in the long run, it'll be worth it in the long run, it'll be worth it in the long run.

I had to keep on repeating that because otherwise I would've just packed it up. Like, for real.

And the thing is - now I think back on it and think, god I wish I had some of those photos. At the time I hated the grime so much that I didn't even take any photos of it. I knew it would get better in the long run and I knew it would be quite a kick to look back on it and go, geesh, do you remember how bad this place was?

But at the time, I just felt like I was going to drown under all that work and I wanted to wipe it clean and not have any evidence of what a sh*thole we moved into.

And the thing is, I was embarrassed of this house. Which is stupid, because for Pete's sake, it is a rental. A rental! Why on earth would I need to be embarrassed of it, of all things?!

But I was. I knew, even at the time, that it was gonna be worth it in the long run because the rent we pay here allows us to save money for a home we might one day have for real - and in the post-earthquake Christchurch it is a big deal because the rents in this city here are outrageous - but even equipped with this (theoretical) knowledge of it being worth it, I knew I was going to get looks from my parents and, possibly, my in-laws that would border on pity and worry for our mental state for having moved into this place, and it would last for months.

And given how worn out I was from all the fixing and scrubbing and dressing my kid in winter clothes when I got him out of bed in the morning so that he could play inside the house (which was just plain ridiculous) I just didn't have the energy to defend myself in front of people who would raise some, well, legitimate points.

Even now, when I say to people that we've insulated the roof space and laid carpets, and underlay, and put up doors and fenced and whatever, they raise their eyebrows and ask, why would we want to do that if it is a rental. Why would anyone want to put so much work into a house that isn't theirs?

But the thing is... In this time in my life when I'm - along with thousands of other young families who choose to stay with their children and, essentially, function on single incomes - on a limited budget, it's either this where I'm spending a lot of time and little money, or I spend more money and have more time. But where would the latter take me? What's the point of putting such horrific amounts of money down on rent when it's just money that keeps on going down this hole where nothing ever comes of it?

Me and The Man like working on houses. Sure, sometimes we have fights where we get close to ripping each other's heads off - figuratively speaking - but in the end, we like it.

And in many ways we've already tested out many of the things we would, one day, need to test out in our own home, and it's sort of nicer to test it out in a house where it won't have to be rebuilt again because a cupboard sits in a place where everyone keeps stubbing their toes in it.

Like, check this out: in Wanaka we moved into a house where a kitchen looked like this...

And that really is all the countertop space there was.
Like, that's it - there's no more hiding anywhere. Chop your veggies here, baby.

... and we left it looking like this:

The deal was, landlord paid for the materials and we provided the time and the effort, and got our rent deducted, a little bit. Was it actually worth it given that we only got to use it for a few months given that our residency came through earlier than expected and we packed out bags and moved to Christchurch?

Not really, financially speaking, and considering time that went into building this thing all from scrap materials and old, paint-coated furniture that needed restoring before it got to this state.

But still: I got to learn about what re-building a kitchen is like before I had to go through arguments like that in my own home where I would've probably put loads more passion into it, and boy would've that got ugly.

But now I know: rebuilding a kitchen is a big thing. Hold on to your marriage vows sort of big, and remember to still have sex with your spouse sort of big.


And so because of that, I'm glad we did it, because I am so not going on another kitchen remodel anytime soon - which is why in this kitchen here there's an old cupboard covered with a piece of tabletop functioning as a kitchen island and that's how it's gonna be, baby, because I'm definitely not doing anything to it.

But boy oh boy have I got off topic or what.

Basically, it's been hard learning this house here, but also useful because now I can personally appreciate the amount of work that goes into restoring old villas and so if one day I do go on a house hunt, I will probably have a bit of perspective when looking at do-up properties rather than going in with lots of passion and saying things along the lines of, oh, look, this place has such charm! We'll bring it back to life and it'll be wonderful! Honey, can you see, it'll be so immeasurably wonderful!

Speaking of wonderful: I've had a chilled out weekend with my family and my dog, who's now part of this family too, I guess, so I could just stop pointing out her existence in addition to saying "my family"...

You know what, Maria, just f*cking stop writing and upload your damn photos and let these good people go do some other useful stuff instead of reading through pages and pages of your writing here.

Here, I said it. I'm going now. Going! Bye!

At the cinema

No, my child is not on top of the car, I have no idea what you're talking about

See? I told you he's not on top of the car.

Oh, and in case you're wondering: my camera is filled with outtakes like this.

1 comment:

  1. That was such a fun read Maria; I've done a fair bit of DIY myself, but nothing like what you guys have done.
    One thing I've learned from what I have done though, take it one step at a time; this is one time where the big picture is too much, the little picture keeps you going and gets the job done.