As I began writing this from my iPhone it was 4:30 am. Exhausted and sore but unable to sleep because of the extreme allergy attack I was dealing with, thanks to our now destroyed home and the mold spores that now reside there.
That’s right…destroyed home.
A couple of Friday nights ago my husband and I, following strict orders from our marriage counselor, went out on a much deserved dinner-and-a-movie date. We hit up a new restaurant in town (Xiao was good in case anyone is wondering), grabbed a couple of beers at the Irish pub and saw The Hangover II (hilarious). We had so much fun and were super happy and looking forward to getting home and continuing our night (if you catch my drift…)
Around midnight we picked up Monk who was exhausted from playing with her grandparents and aunts and uncles. Yet somehow as soon as she heard our voices and we put her in the car she was wide awake. We should have known then it was the sign of bad things to come.
When Michael opened the front door a very distinctive sound hit our ears. The sound of a whole lot of water coming from above. I described it on Facebook like a waterfall because that’s the only thing I’ve heard that sounded like what was happening INSIDE of our home. Water ran down all the walls and was pouring so heavily from the ceiling that the drywall tape and a huge chunk of sheetrock was dangling precariously in the dining room.
If I was writing a screenplay this is where I would insert a flashback to the first time the same incident occurred. Last year around this time I was playing with Cedella in the living room when it sounded like someone turned on the shower full blast. I went running upstairs and a pipe from under the sink was spewing water at an alarming rate. Thankfully the landlord was across the street at her office and came over in a few short minutes and turned off the water cause the damage was minimal. She then ‘fixed’ the pipe with my wrench. I say ‘fixed’ cause this is exactly what happened the other night. Same exact pipe. And you know what hurts even more? When she was ‘fixing’ the pipe (for which she didn’t call a plumber because she deemed it to be a'”simple fix”) I asked what would have happened if we weren’t home, to which she responded ‘well, let’s hope it doesn’t happen again’. Hope, huh? That’s your fix?
So I’m not sure what primal instinct was enacted when we saw all that water but we went into crisis mode instantly. Our first thoughts? Turn off the water and make sure the dog is ok. Our second thoughts were the age old ‘if your house was in fire what would you grab’? For us it was our computers, hard drives and my camera which were all sitting so nicely docked. On our desk. In our dining room. Where the aforementioned waterfall and dangling Sheetrock were.
Umm. Yea. We kinda had mini heart attacks. Well…in fairness Kira (our dog) was having a MAJOR heart attack. Poor old girl was shaking like a leaf for almost 2 hours after we got home and then had to sleep in a garage. But I’m getting off track…
We braved the water pouring from the light socket in the kitchen (safe, huh?), grabbed garbage bags, strapped Cedella on my tummy (thank you $11.99 thrift store Ergo) and got to business.
We collected all our photo albums which hadn’t been soaked (thank the universe for that). Grabbed clothes shoes and diapers. And a bunch of dirty laundry (cause Saturday is laundry day dammit). Packed Kira & Monk in the car and then stopped to realize that we were in fact homeless.
When we went back to the house on Saturday, after having to convince our landlord that this was in fact an emergency situation, the damage was devastating. After being told that the damage, “wasn’t too bad” and that we’d be back in the house “in about a week”, we got to work on the sopping wet and mildewing mess that was our home. Are you seeing a pattern here? “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again”, “it’s not too bad”, “you’ll be back in a week”? Yea. Right.
I don’t know if it is the marriage counseling or just some good old fashioned team spirit but Michael and I worked like a well-oiled machine. In a little over seven hours we managed to sort through, repack (in plastic boxes) and discard a majority of our belongings, particularly the destruction that was our basement storage space.
Everyone keeps telling me it’s just stuff. But it’s not just stuff. The stuff I can deal with. The endless bags of gift bags and boxes I planned on regifting. I’m ok with that. The boxes of cigar boxes that Michael collects for no good reason. Gone. But going through the boxes of old college notebooks with all my cleverly outlined notes on Angela Davis and Cinema Verite and Napoleon, it was difficult. But when we got to the soggy pile of old journals? Absolutely devastating. Just material objects? Yes. But they are full of times and places and moments of my past that I want to remember, that I want to be able to reread and reconnect to. And now…they are gone.
My wedding dress? Soaked and mildewed. Michael’s high school varsity jacket suffered the same fate. My collection of 1970’s vintage leather and shearling coats? Destroyed. Yes, just stuff. But stuff I was hanging onto for my children or their children or a museum or just to wear on a occasion when the mood struck, you know, like cleaning the toilet in my wedding gown (it could happen). What I mean is that it’s not just stuff. It’s our history, our childhoods, our memories. Hearing that it’s just stuff is really not helpful in this situation. Try living without your stuff and then tell me it’s just stuff.
Needless to say the afternoon was a bit emotionally and physically exhausting. And we had only tackled the basement and the top priority list of what we wanted to save. By the end of that day all I could do was collapse into Michael’s arms and tell him this “I’m so happy I married you because I don’t think I could survive all of this without you”. No really. That’s a word for word quote. And it’s SO true.
I won’t go into the minutiae of filing an insurance claim other than to say that Allstate Insurance is the shit!! No really. The assessor and her team spent an entire day with us, helping us to get all the stuff we shoved into the garage out into our backyard to dry out for an afternoon. They were incredibly kind and valued our belongings and our home nearly as much as we do. And when they finally left for the day, every single one of them gave us hugs and told us it was going to be ok. No really…hugs.
And just a week later we have a check in our hands for the full amount our policy covers. Though it can’t possibly cover all that we lost, in fact it’s almost $6000 short on their estimates, it was nice knowing that they got us as much as they could. And did I mention our insurance man (and one of Michael’s oldest buddies) Chris Tyler and his lovely wife Kate are dog sitting for us? As I said. Allstate rocks.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week were spent moving out of our house. We were warned by our insurance restoration expert that anything we wanted to salvage should be pulled from the house asap before the mold and mildew had a chance to set in. So swooping in the save the day were the Sims women to help me out. My mom and sisters came up for the day and worked their asses off to pack a majority of our house up. As disorganized and dirty as it was (for crying out loud I’m still recovering from losing my baby and housekeeping had not been at the top of my priority list) they handled it with grace and efficiency. Even my baby sister Kylara busted her butt and didn’t complain once, which is a big deal for a teenager.
Imagine having to pack up your entire house with a day’s notice and with a skeleton crew. It sucked. Nothing was ready or sorted through and it’s going to be a bitch to unpack. But we did it with the help of our family and the aforementioned Kate and the lovely Lucy who helped pack up dishes and art and stuff and my dear friend Leslie who watched Cedella for an entire day so we could get things done. And our man Chris even helped pull all the discarded furniture to the side of the house.
So now that we are out of our home we are essentially homeless. We are so fortunate to be staying with my lovely inlaws at their home which isn’t too far from where we used to live. But it’s hard. Just as it’s hard staying with anyone for an extended period of time whether you love them or hate them.
The three of us are living out of one bedroom and it’s messy and smelly (thanks to gross husband socks) and Cedella has reverted to sleeping with us every night. All of our stuff is in storage bins and garbage bags either tucked into a closet or in the basement, so not really easily accessible. The house is so orderly and clean that I feel the need to run behind Monk with a dust pan and a vacuum cleaner at all times. And we don’t have our Kira with us, because this clean and orderly house is not dog friendly and all of our hearts, especially Cedella’s are breaking.
But the love that we feel from my wonderful MIL and FIL and the extra help with Cedella is priceless. We have a roof over heads and a fridge full of food and somewhere a storage pod full of clothes and toys and books. But did I mention the cooking? Four star Lebanese restaurant every night of the week. Delicious!
But I can’t tell you how much I was done with the month of May. I mean seriously? What a craptastic month. It made me wonder what kind of energy we have put out there for the universe to return such ugliness and tragedy to us. And then I thought about the poor folks in Joplin who don’t even have their dogs or lost their loved ones or don’t even have one wall still standing and it put me in check a bit. Shit happens, right?
So we’re looking forward to finding a new home…maybe buying if the bank will let us…and settling in…and getting our dog back. We miss our dog.
I’ll leave you with these pictures from my iPhone cause though my Canon (thankfully) was spared I can’t find the damn USB cord anywhere.
Be thankful for what you have and for goodness sake…if you rent and don’t have renter’s insurance you’re crazy. Call Chris Tyler…he’ll hook you up!