Purple, Blue and Green

I just couldn’t believe this was where we were going to live.

We had been staying in a long term stay hotel, in a suite with two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchenette.  It was small, but functional; I was able to set up Melinda’s swing in the spacious main room.  But the forty minute round trip to Zach’s new school twice a day was getting old, and I was eager to finally call somewhere home.  After nearly three weeks in the hotel, it was time.

The closing had been this morning, and we were doing our walk through.

We’d driven through the neighborhood several times before.  It was a contained subdivision of about 160 homes, all of five or six different types.  Most were four bedroom colonials.   It reminded me in some ways of the neighborhood my parents lived in when I was a child, except for the fact that the trees here were all still so tiny.  Clearly our house was situated on land that had been farmland until relatively recently.  Our location, on the outer edge of the Cincinnati suburbs, made our neighborhood less expensive than those closer in.  Grocery stores, gas stations and pizza places hadn’t caught up with the development; it looked like most shopping was a good ten minute drive away.  Welcome to the suburbs, I thought.

We drove further and further into the development until we stopped in front our house.  Situated on a cul de sac, our new home appeared to be middle of the road in terms of size.  An enormous pile of garbage bags and old furniture was piled up on the curb.  That, I supposed, was to be expected.  I pulled Melinda out of her car seat and marveled at how quiet the street was. We were in the furthest reaches of the neighborhood, at the end of the street.  It meant that hardly any cars would be coming down our street.  I spotted a child’s bike haphazardly laying on the grass of the house next door.  I exhaled a sigh of relief as we walked up the front steps.  We’d made a good choice.

R held up the keys to Z and I, and waggled them in front of us.  “OK, here we go…let’s see if you like it as much as I did.”

He opened the door.  I noted immediately that we’d have to buy a storm door to let in breezes; while the doorway was likely more attractive without it, it was hardly functional to not have one.  We stepped into the front hallway onto hardwood floors and I smiled.  But as I walked slowly down the hallway past the formal living room and into the kitchen, something felt off.   What was it?

“Are you sure this is the right place?” asked Z, looking around him.

Everything was dirty.  The kitchen floor, made of linoleum, had ground in dirt in every crevice.  I wondered if I’d be able to get it out.  The walls had been hastily painted an eggshell color to neutralize the decor prior to selling the home; it was clear that the owners had never moved any furniture or removed a single nail prior to doing the job.  Circles of purple, blue, lime green speckled the walls.  I walked to peer out of the over the sink window and spied a whole square of lime green;  the owners hadn’t bothered to move their microwave to paint.

“Wow, it’s amazing how photos can cover up a multitude of sins,” I said, clutching my sleeping baby unconsciously tighter. “I mean, it looks OK outside, but this place is really in rough shape.  Are you sure this house is only two years old?”   Our Oklahoma house had been two years old when we’d purchased it; it was like brand new.  We’d never had to lift a single paint brush the whole time we’d lived in it.  This house was going to be another story, clearly.

R was clearly agitated.  “This is not what it looked like when we walked through it.  It’s clear they placed furniture in strategic places to make it look better, cleaner.”  He opened the door to the laundry room, and from there the door to the garage; more trash littered the floor.  I could hear him swearing and decided to instead look out the sliding glass doors to the spacious back yard.  It was green and lush; a trampoline was left behind.

“Cool!” Z gushed.  He ran out to go take a look.

“Well, we’re obviously going to have to hire cleaners.  I’ll ask the agent about it.  You can’t possibly do this much work with the baby and move us in too.”  I noted the use of the pronoun ‘you’ instead of ‘we’.  R’s job was already proving to be pretty demanding; there was no way he could take time off to help unpack.  “And now we’ll have to paint, too.”

“Look up there,” I marveled.  There was a small triangle of American cheese stuck to the light fixture in the kitchen.  When R reached up and removed it, a tarnished shape was left behind.  We both just looked at each other and laughed.  What else was there to do?

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said when we were done.   But his face was still pensive and betrayed his real feelings.

“You’re right,” I said, cradling my baby, my words just as hollow as his.  Still, watching Z run from the backyard and shouting as he took the stairs two at a time to pick out his room, I couldn’t help but smile.  Outside, I could hear kids playing in the street in the warm May air.  “It’ll be ok.  Maybe not right this minute, but it will be.  And let’s face it; if a dirty house is our biggest problem, we’re probably doing something right.”

He nodded and gave me a squeeze.


One Response

  1. Very true. If all you have to worry about is a dirty house, life’s not too bad!

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