When it Literally Pours

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!

All of the paint on the walls was bubbling like this…

Sheetrock literally hanging from the ceiling. Slightly dangerous, no?

Soggy 70′s vintage coat collection

A box full of Michael’s childhood under water…

Scripts, notebooks and journals…destroyed.

My hard drive containing every single short film I ever shot, edited or directed.

Monk was chillin’ with Elmos while we cleaned the house…

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Reading this, I was wondering if your idiot landlord is being held responsible for any of the damage or costs you’re ensuing because of this. I would be sooooo pissed off at them right now.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all you have lately. As I read these posts I do realize you and Michael are facing challenges together and letting it draw you closer, so (as you know) there is the good that comes out of it.

    But it still sucks. What’s the next step?

    • Alexia
      Twitter:
      says:

      Believe me we are PISSED and the idiot landlord is not accepting any responsibility at this time. Thankfully our insurance can go after her insurance to recoup the money they’re giving us. But in the meantime we will probably have to take her to small claim’s to be reimbursed for any additional loss beyond our coverage. It sucks to say the least.

      We are trying to find a new place but debating whether to buy or rent for another year. Currently living out of boxes and just generally feeling like we’re under foot. But like you know, with a move coming up so soon, we just want to look at it as a new adventure and a clean slate.

  2. Jill Stephens says:

    I am so truly sorry to hear about your many losses. I know a lot of people are probably saying “If there is anything I can do…..” but REALLY, if there is anything at all that myself and my family can do to help, I hope you will let me know. I have a few really special toys that I was saving in hopes of being an aunt one day (not going to happen now) that my girls loved at Cedella’s age and I would enjoy passing them on to her if and when you have the space and you would like them. Let me know what I can do for you.

    Jill

    • Alexia
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thank you so much Jill. Right now we don’t need anything cause quite honestly we don’t have anywhere to put anything. But when we find a place I will let you if we can take anything off your hands ;) Give your beautiful girls kisses from me!

  3. Hope says:

    Ali! I’m so sorry for your losses. That sucks majorly. Thanks for writing and letting us know what’s going on. Sending lots of love and hugs and wishes for a quick recovery back into a new and better home!
    Love, Hope

  4. Tracey
    Twitter:
    says:

    I agree with you. Chalking up all you’ve lost to “it’s just stuff” is irritating and inaccurate. I saw firsthand how much you lost, what it took out of you guys. But I’ve also seen how strong you both are. How hard your fighting to keep it together. How much you just want things to go back to normal. And that fight? That’s what will get you there.

    Sooner than you know, you’ll be in a new place with new things and that clean slate you keep talking about will be filled with all sorts of new adventures.

    Time will pass. Things will get better. It will take time, but it WILL happen.

  5. Oh girlfriend, the way you describe the destruction is just heartbreaking and the pictures are just devastating to see. It the wake of your loss, I am just glad that you have so many kind people to rally around you, Michael and Cedella. Something spectacularly good is going to come from this tragedy…I feel it.
    Teresha@ Marlie and Me recently posted..Wordful Wednesday- Future Picasso

    • Alexia
      Twitter:
      says:

      You’re so right Teresha, we are so glad that we have such awesome friends and family! I hope you’re right on the spectacular, cause this Mama needs something good right about now!!

  6. Gayle says:

    Dear Ali and Michael,
    Thanks for posting your heartbreaking story and pictures. Our hearts go out to you. Praying that the futures brings you a beautiful new home and new adventures. I have to agree that ALLSTATE ROCKS! Not sure ifyou new it but we had a hail storm (golf ball sized and larger) about 4-5 weeks ago….our hearts sank also as we stood looking out the dining room window as these HUGE hail balls beat the crap out of our cars….4 of them…totalled one, Harrison’s new car was less than a week old, and the other 3 have over $12,000 damage to them….but allstate graciously wrote out checks on the spot…..Then a couple of weeks ago we had another rain storm and found that we had hail damage to the roof….first clue? Water pouring into the kitchen and den!! Allstate was great again…came out gave us ck to replace entire roof,vents,gutters, downspouts, copper roofing,power wash and restain deck, fix sheet rock and repaint kitchen area and den! They are an amazing insurance company…never questioned anything…no hassles just a freshly printed check….Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this trying time….hang in there,,,,good times r a coming!

    • Alexia
      Twitter:
      says:

      Aunt Gayle, Thanks so much for the prayers. I knew you had some hail damage but no idea it was that bad (you know how guys relay stories and never make it seem as bad as it is). So glad that Allstate took care of you guys too!! We’ll never have another insurance company! Glad your home and cars are fixed up and will be praying that the bad weather leaves you all alone…Sending love to all of you guys ;)

  7. Teresa
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am so sorry. This sucks so bad, and I can honestly say that I know what you are feeling right now. Last year, we had a fire and the landlord wasn’t any help AT ALL (although I guess it wasn’t really their fault). We had to stay at my mom’s house for a month, while my husband repainted, tore up old carpets and installed new ones. Thankfully, we didn’t lose my photo albums or my computer. Oh and get this: before we had kids, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I woke up to a flooded house, with refrigerator floating in living room. We lost xbox, all my cute shoes, and lots of household items. The clock by our bed was plugged in and working…under the water! So, yeah, I kind of know the utter devastation you are feeling right now, but i had no idea you lost a baby. I am sending prayers to you, that this only brings you and your husband even closer. One day, this may feel like a bad dream. I am so glad you have an awesome support family system. Hang in there.
    Teresa recently posted..What if

    • Alexia
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for the support Teresa. But a flood and then a fire?! Damn. I’m gonna start saying my prayers now…lol. Gonna keep our heads up and hope we come out on the other end like you guys did!

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