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Making It Work

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
Things fall apart. Relationships dissolve. Children fall on uneven cracks in the sidewalk and scrape their knees. The stress of work buries us without apology. In my world, the “things” falling apart right now are pieces of my home.

We LOVE our old home, and actually, I don’t know if we would ever want to buy new construction. Even with the allure of brand new pipes, walk in closets in every room, finished and waterproof basements, no hidden knob and tube wiring tucked in the insulation, and new appliances, I know that I still prefer the personality of an old home. Our brick colonial house built in 1901 has stories to tell other than “I’m new!” and “Look at how similar I look to every other house around me!” Right now, however, the story that our home is telling focuses on all the things that are falling apart.

In one week, our gutters separated and broke, our toilet stopped working and then the real kicker was the refrigerator breaking. On their own, these three things breaking are no big deal, but together they are more than annoying. They are expensive. They are upsetting. And, if you are someone like me who sees the world in literary elements, they are themes for our lives right now.

The toilet was an easy fix and actually gave my husband an ego boost when he replaced the broken part by himself (theme here: the smallest victories empower us. My husband actually did a little dance to celebrate the working toilet). The gutters will be expensive, but someone is taking care of it, and with the intensity of the spring storms complete with tornado touchdowns and hail, we are lucky that our gutters were the only casualty (theme here: we are very lucky people while others suffered far greater during the worst tornado season in history).

The refrigerator, though, is the coup de grace. We didn’t notice that everything in our freezer had thawed even with the clues that all of our ice cubes had turned to water, and the ice cream was liquid or that our refrigerator was not keeping our food cold until 24 hours after it started (theme here: we don’t see what is painfully obvious). We were forced to throw away 98% of our food (theme here: we are wasteful) and we are using our tiny, red Igloo cooler as a temporary refrigerator until we get the final verdict on whether or not our refrigerator can actually be salvaged (theme here: we can be imaginative when forced to survive without a refrigerator – okay, this isn’t really a theme, but more just the reality of the situation).

For most homeowners, dealing with a broken refrigerator wouldn’t feel like Armageddon. Financially, it’s a problem to buy a new refrigerator, but it isn’t the end of the world. For us, though, a new refrigerator poses a larger issue. When we bought this home 9 years ago, the one thing that we were almost unable to make work was getting a refrigerator to fit in the kitchen. It isn’t that the kitchen is too small for a refrigerator; the problem resides in the fact that whoever remuddled our kitchen before we even owned this house failed to see the ridiculousness of the layout. The refrigerator was suctioned in a back corner with a fake wall built behind it which closes off the outside entrance to the kitchen. Even with a more compact model, it’s a tight squeeze. We ordered two different refrigerators and both times the Lowes delivery men said, “Look, there is no freakin’ way you are going to get a refrigerator into that space.” I’m pretty sure they called us dumbasses before they left.

Disheartened we envisioned stacking mini-refrigerators on top of each other or actually trying to exist without a refrigerator until we could completely reconfigure the space in our kitchen (reality here: we didn’t have children and we were actually, as the delivery dudes had noted, dumbasses).

Then, by some lightening strike of luck, we stumbled on a clearance refrigerator at Boscov’s that dimension wise might actually fit our cramped space.

With the help of two of our best friends, we shimmied our refrigerator into place. My husband and I joked with each other, “When this refrigerator dies, we will need to completely redo the kitchen.”

It’s funny how after 9 years of joking about something and almost half wishing for the day to come, that when it does come, the financial backing isn’t quite gelling with the funny joke / wish.

It would be great to have a space that makes sense to create our evening meals, but for now, I need to have faith in our refrigerator repair dude that he can somehow make our old, tired refrigerator work again (even though we won some sort of refrigerator repair dude prize yesterday when he said, “This is the worst space I have ever seen for a refrigerator.” He said this as he basically performed sweaty acrobatic moves to crawl up and over the refrigerator to see what was going on in the back of it). I need to believe that we will not be using our cooler as our permanent refrigerator. I need to hope that if the refrigerator does not work again, that if we do find a replacement refrigerator that it will fit our budget and the space that doesn’t fit anything. I need to rely on my husband’s sensibilities that he will not put the refrigerator in the middle of the living room because we have an extra plug out there (this is actually something he suggested when we first realized that the dreaded day of the refrigerator’s last breath was upon us).

When things fall apart – whether they are big things or little things – we need to rely on those who can pick up the pieces and make things work again. And we need to know that even when it seems impossible, that it won’t always be this way, that we don’t need to see the theme of our lives signaling that the center cannot hold, but that we can use it as a chance to re-imagine a space, to rekindle a relationship, or even an opportunity to work on problem solving skills for how to make things work again.
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