You Should Really, Really Be Here

What are you saying, anyway?  You have to scream, you know.  That’s because a group of guys is blasting our house with high-pressure water to clean it.  Occasionally, they get a little over-zealous, like a human hurricane, and some of the water seeps in and I have to attack it with a bath towel.

But that doesn’t matter, really.  After all, my so-called productivity is at an all-time low right now.  Believe me, you don’t want to try to do thoughtful work when a small army of people is battering your walls with water, adjusting your water pressure upstairs, trimming your hedges and painting your porch.  No, you just sit in front of the computer and try not to get too involved in what you’re doing, since a barrage of noise is about to strike yet again and some new person will be banging on the door with a new problem.

“Ruth!”  It’s Herk, knocking on the front door.  Herk likes to let me know whenever something has gone wrong and there’s yet another problem “we” need to address.  In this case, “we” means Herk and his group will attend to it and I will pay for it.  “Ruth!  Have you noticed that stone wall that’s falling down in your backyard?”

No, of course, I haven’t noticed it. What stone wall?  That’s because I specialize in not noticing things around the house — almost as successfully as my husband who, naturally, is out of town.  He calls when the hoses are blasting the front of the house and someone else is hammering somewhere and Herk wants to know what we want to do with the crates in the “garden.”  I use quotation marks, since the garden area has been a dump for years.  But now we’re having it cleaned out and buffalo grass planted.  It might have looked bad when it was a dump, but rank neglect is a lot cheaper than buffalo grass.

“You should try to work here!” I scream through the phone to my husband.  He reminds me that we lived in the midst of a maelstrom of noise in New York.  “Yeah, but we weren’t paying for it,” I say.

But … we are having all this done — all these repairs and improvements, this ongoing sturm und drang — because we’ve decided to sell our wonderful and charming house and move into a downtown condo.  I don’t think I could have agreed to this move (having long announced my intention to be removed from it feet first) if we hadn’t spent the year in New York.  And noticed we don’t need nearly the room we have.  And realized we aren’t yard or garden or even “garden” people.  And somehow, simultaneously, agreed that yes, it’s a time in our life when we should move on.

All of which is why work is harder and why my ability to concentrate borders on the pathetic.  I love the illusion of stability, cling to it desperately, and right now, it’s slipping through my fingers and costing us a fortune.

“Ruth!”  It’s Herk again, with a new problem.  The chainsaw wails, the water blasts, I traipse back to the front door.  Maybe, I am thinking, I prefer the noise.  It distracts me from the great and meaningful change we’re making, which is hard for a person like me who loathes change.  I’m no good at dismantling, even if that’s what I’m doing.  I want to mantle, instead — but I just looked it up and it’s not even a verb.

(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read one of my favorite posts about pregnancy, War and Peace and looking busy

16 comments… add one
  • Hurricanes ringing the doorbell.  Buffaloes roaming free-range amid the garden crates.  Crates?  Are you packing dirt to take with you downtown?  Not enough scandal in your lives since you’ve traded mayhem and lip gloss in the alleys of NYC for mere Texas politics?   Is your hubby aiming to lose his job and become another prisoner of Second Avenue?  Have you ever dreamed of turning into Anne Bancroft?  Selling your home is a big change.

  • Oh, Mantling is what you do when you disguise that gaping hole in the wall and turn the room into a cozy den.

  • Good luck with the move.  It will all be over soon.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  I have a big move coming up in November.

  • musingegret Link

    Wow, another huge adventure in your lives! Your dearly beloved house is prob’ly thinking, “Arrrgh…..I just get used to having my family back inside after a year of strangers and now I’m getting blasted by a firehose and almost moved off my foundation…..**what** is going on now??!!”

    Can’t wait for all the new chapters in this new book of your life. Thank you for sharing.

  • It ought to be a verb.

  • I’m with Duchess–mantle should be a verb–and you’d be very good at it.

  • Bother that Duchess.  She said just what I was going to say.  It must be in the genes.

  • Actually it is a verb, although perhaps not in the sense you would like to use it, Ruth. It means to cover, envelop or conceal, or, if you’re a hawk, to spread out one wing and then the other over the corresponding stretched leg. Which, when you think about it, is exactly what you’re doing – spreading your wings, if somewhat grumpily. And I do admire your courage in doing so. We know in our hearts that we need to do the same, because we are living in a house of empty bedrooms. But the heart faints at the thought of trying to compress all that stuff into a smaller house, so I’m doing a Cindy Spellman on it – turning spare bedrooms into gift-wrapping rooms – rather than face what needs to be done.

  • Good luck with your move. I just realized that I’ve move 11 times in ten years. Perhaps that’s also the mark of youth – impermanence. Regardless, it’s painful.

  • Oh, I’m so with you on this. We’ve wanted to move for years, no longer needing all the room we have. But it’s so hard to downsize, both physically and emotionally. I hope it goes smoothly for you, Ruth!

  • It sounds like a really big decision but the right one. Getting a house ready to sell is so hard though. I cannot think at all when any work is going on around here so I sympathize with you. I almost lost my mind when we had the roof and gutters redone recently.

  • Having moved lately myself I can commiserate. I was completely unproductive for no-moving projects for nearly 2 months. Not a good look. I’m sure you’ll manage better than I did though.

  • Susan Link

    I just moved myself, so I feel your pain (minus all the noise – that’s an annoyance I did not have to deal with). Yet another humorous post!

  • Good luck with your move, Ruth. In my former life, I moved six times through ex’s career. The part I resented was fixing up the house for someone else to buy. I always that it should be fixed up for us to live in. Change is hard but think of how free you’ll feel in a smaller place with less to take care of.

  • Mantle away. I understand the noise issue and the “we need to …” issue, and I really sympathize with the move thing. Not that I’ve done it much. I have NOT, and that’s because my DH completely lost his mind about halfway through our move to this house, and I SWORE one of those feet-first things.
    Hang in there!

  • Sherrie Marston Link

    OMG———– I keep asking- whats a famous person like yourself doing as a friend of mine on face book????? So I spent some time getting to know you again, still pretty, slim, funny, smart, witty, oh, so bright, and then I have to ask the question once again. Your life sounds amazing, so glad you have found your voice in words. You are my one famous person, how cool is that!!
    Hugs to you, lots of hugs,

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