It's basically SAW: Beauty Edition.
There was a lot of excitement around actually moving into the house. Sure, apprehension and fear followed that feeling close behind, but the thrill still trumped. There were a lot of unknowns, like how showering outside for an undisclosed period of time would go, or if the mini-fridge we’d been gifted would keep our food truly cold and fresh.
I looked at it mostly like a camping experience, which is fun for a weekend but I was uncertain about it being my life for… a month? Two months? Three months? Nothing with this house had gone as planned, so I was at least smart enough to not put any mental deadlines in my head for things. Which was kind of doing everyone involved a favor. All two of us.
It was weird to now be inside the house we’d been revamping for almost a year. Besides adjusting to the house, I had a whole new neighborhood to figure out. Being at the house pretty much every day, I wasn’t really anxious about the neighbor-thing, but it was a bit curious to now fully be among them.
Especially the one who likely got off on repeatedly calling the inspectors on us, or the fire department for burning wood in the backyard, or the police for an expired inspection on our car. Yeah, that happened. Twice! I don’t know which one of us is the bigger idiot (though I certainly can say who has the deeper hole in her pocket because of that little game).
Our first night in the house coincided with our three-year anniversary. We didn’t even realize it until basically the day arrived, which was cute. It kind of helped ease the madness and just made us slaphappy instead.
My first day hiking to work from the ‘new’ house felt good. I was freshly washed thanks to a last shower in the rented abode. I wanted to relish the fact I was cleanly shaven and smelled pleasant. The heat of July can be a bastard in these humid parts, so I was well-aware this would be a hard look to keep up; however, I came home to find this Great Beauty:
I don’t really think D cared about hosing himself down in the backyard like a farmer might a pig, but because I am his daintier other half, he built a backyard shower. Now, to be clear, to use the word shower is a big of stretch, because some might think that implies plumbing. This had none. He had taken a bunch of leftover scrap wood and constructed a shower-looking box, complete with a floor, which had me squealing.
Reliving the horror of my single attempt at camp in between elementary and middle school, where I had to shower in flip-flops was not something I was looking to recreate in my late twenties.
The shower was a certain joy. A shampoo bar had been created to hold soaps and razors. Two little hooks had been hung to hold sponges. A magnetic flashlight had been attached high up on one wall so we would be able to see at night. It was rigged with a regular garden hose, but a thoughtful attachment allowed the water to come out like a shower spray, albeit a very cold one. We bought a dark brown shower curtain, to Jay Z this pup up (I can’t remember why I know that he requires dark brown shower curtains? I think D might have had to buy him some when he was performing in Philly once).
Despite our shower being sorta primitive, I was impressed by the faux luxury of the dark curtain. It doesn’t take much to tickle my squirrel brain.
What really took the shower straight to my heart was its smell though. Most of it was constructed from leftover cedar and it made my heart hum. I kept standing in it and breathing really deep. I have a feeling if the water had gotten hot and steamy, it would have been bali-spa quality. If. But for a North Philly backyard, this was pretty damn hot (do I seem delusional? you can tell me).
The shower felt like a dream, but I will confess it was definitely weird looking from the back. Also, that small little rectangle of wood next to it was a towel rack. We opted not to hang a curtain on the one side. There didn’t seem to be a point since we felt pretty confident no one would be able to see in (though we never actually tested this theory), and it’d just make the shower really dark inside. If I’m going to be showering with bugs, I at least want to be able to see them.
We also had to keep Drano on constant hand because of the old drain quickly clogging. D built the shower directly over it so the water had somewhere to go, even if it left in what felt like dribbles.
Despite lacking what many would in ‘Merica would consider basics, we still ordered internet to be set-up within the first few days here, because skewed priorities. Also, I had been sent a voucher for $20 Comcast internet. I didn’t think it was real. Neither did the people at Comcast. But the third party Comcast hires out to entice people with such grand offers did. And they gave it to us. A small victory for Comcast-sufferers everywhere.
We had tried to set the bedroom up as a safe haven of sorts, away from the mess of tools and construction chaos. We had hung up a TV and were eager to get lost in the glorious streaming of Breaking Bad while gorging ourselves on the heaven that is summer tomatoes when night fell.
Getting ready in the morning lost its shine kinda quickly. With nothing in the bathroom except a toilet, I found myself first schlepping down to the basement to have a proper tooth and face scrubbing. I’d then scramble back upstairs and plop myself on the bathroom floor, where we had propped up a cheap mirror.
Electricity had been run in the bathroom, but no fixtures had been installed, so my lighting was based solely on what I could pull in from the outside. Luckily we have two large windows, so this wasn’t half bad so long as it was a sunny day. Suffice to say, my morning routine was kept uber simple and more than once I had to wipe away misguided strokes when I caught myself in the properly lit bathroom at work.
As for food, D got overzealous with my parents' baby grill and somehow managed to melt it. I feel like this shouldn’t have happened, because it’s made to hold fire, right? Either way, we bought a normal-sized grill because a kitchen wasn’t coming any time soon but we still had to eat. It was a lot nicer not squatting and hunching over it like we had to with the little red one though.
We also stocked up on tinfoil, which gave us the huge gift of cooking and consuming veggies. Now was no time to develop scurvy, or whatever you can get from being malnourished.
Things were skipping along pretty happily the first few weeks. We were still stumped on how to complete some major projects, like re-sanding and staining the botched downstairs floors, or laying proper ones upstairs. It just sounded like a lot of tiring work we weren’t eager to get into.
So we bought some old speakers instead and hooked up a record player to tune out the haggard whispers of pending house projects. Sometimes you just have to chill out and take a breather.