Saturday, September 16, 2017

Freedom From ...

I feel almost giddy.  It's weird.

Everything feels so brand new, almost like we're in a new house.

Or, like, we finally finished the remodel, moved things into a place where they can actually stay - not "for now", but for always -, and are (slowly) reclaiming our space.  There are still things to do, but I finally feel like I can breath and not just make plans, but accomplish goals.

It's actually pretty amazing - this feeling of being freed.  

I think, most of us in this consumer-driven society, don't really understand what a HUGE burden clutter is.  There have been plenty of articles written and studies done that tell us it's true, but I think, when we're in the midst of it, we don't really get it.

I also think that's why people like vacation.  It gets them away from the clutter of their lives, and there's nothing quite like sinking into a clean tub and just relaxing in the pristine austerity that is the typical hotel bath.

Speaking of baths, there's a great story about our house-hunting adventure twenty-some years ago.

Deus Ex Machina and I were staying with his mom while we looked for a house to purchase, but we were limited in our housing choices by our income (he was starting his new career as an electrical engineer, and I was starting my new career as a SAHM, which means we only had one income) and by our size requirements (we had Big Little Sister and her two older, half siblings).  Of course, we'd also compiled a list of other amenities we hoped our new home would have, including land size.  We wanted at least an acre.

In a local newspaper, there was an ad for a house.  Deus Ex Machina said, "Look!  It has a Jacuzzi!!" It was a three bedroom (which was the minimum we hoped to find), two-bath house in the upper end of our price range, but it was on a tiny lot (a quarter of an acre), and when we drove by it, it looked tiny and dark.  There was absolutely no color to the house - not even green grass.  The yard was, kind of, bare, actually.  It had so little curb-appeal, in fact, that I didn't even want to walk through it.

Over the next four months, Deus Ex Machina and I drove by dozens and dozens of houses and walked through about half as many.  Nothing worked.  That house needed too much work.  That house  was just out of our price range.  That one was too far from Deus Ex Machina's job (and we only had one car).  That one went under contract the day after we walked through it.

We kept seeing ads for that one house, though, and we kept discounting it.  It actually became somewhat of a joke.  Deus Ex Machina would tease me and act like a Jacuzzi tub was something he wanted, but, to me, a Jacuzzi tub was the epitome of wanton wastefulness, and I wanted nothing to do with that house.

In October, it snowed.  We had arrived in Maine at the end of July with not much more than the clothes on our backs - summer clothes appropriate for a Texas summer, but wholly inadequate for a Maine winter.  Although she was ever the gracious host, I started to feel that we had outstayed our welcome at my MIL's house.  In addition, with the holidays looming, we were in a bit of a rush to get into our own home so that my older two children could come up for a visit.  With so few other options, we decided to walk through the Jacuzzi house.

Twenty years later, we're still in that house, and I've never fully appreciated that Jacuzzi tub.  We used it.  In fact, one of our children was born in that tub, but it's really too big to be comfortable for daily use.  It really is a luxury fixture.

Then, when we started trying to lower our footprint, water usage and electricity usage became concerns, which meant that filling the massive tub and running the jets just didn't fit with our new, life goals.

When we started the renovation, the bathtub was turned into a storage area. I put a bar on one side so that we could hang up the clothes I relocated from the bedroom closet.  It ended up as a catchall for things we had no other place to store.

It started to look a lot like a little, dark cave.  The tub, itself looked and felt grungy.  The best plan, in my mind, was to just rip it out and put something else there.

Unfortunately, my life mantra is "do what you can with what you have where you are" - a philosophy that, kind of, goes contrary to ripping out things that are still usable, even if they aren't exactly perfect.  Rather, it encourages re-imagining how one can make use of the things one already has.

And that's what I did with that Jacuzzi.

During the renovation, it's value was as place to store things.

After the renovation, it was renewed to its original purpose.

I took the clothes bar down.

I relocated all of the tools and other assorted flotsam and jetsam that was being stored in the tub.

I gave away and/or discarded the long-outgrown tub toys.

I painted the wall and the ceiling.

I gave the tub a good scrub and sanitized the whole thing.

It still uses too much water and too much electricity, but I'm realizing it is actually quite useful - as a tub.

First, it's a Jacuzzi with jets, which means it has some therapeutic value.  When Deus Ex Machina has been standing on a concrete floor for three days in a row and his back is sore, there's the tub.  When my dancer daughters have just spent a week in a ballet workshop and their whole bodies are achy and every muscle screams with use, there's the tub.  When I've been outside in the early spring chill digging and planting the just barely thawed earth and I have to peel off my clothes, slowly, because it hurts to move, there's the tub.

But, also, there is a huge value in having a spa-like space in one's own home.  It's a place where we can go, light a candle, sip a little wine, and just relax.  It can be an every day vacation.

From a preparedness standpoint that tub also has value. I know you think I'm going to say fill it with water for storage, but I'm not.  The stopper-thingy has a slow leak, and so we can't fill it for emergency water storage.  That's what we have rain barrels for.

What I am going to say is that our homes should be our primary focus for preparing for an uncertain future, and that we should be making them into exactly what we want.  Deus Ex Machina and I spent five months looking for a perfect home, and we settled for something that would do for now.  Then, we spent the next ten years in what we always felt was a temporary living situation.

If I could go back to younger Wendy, I would tell her that the Jacuzzi house was exactly what she needed - or that, at least, it could become exactly what she needed.  What I needed to do was just step back and see MY house, and imagine how I could make it my ideal.

Twenty years later, we're doing just that.

And that tub?

I'm looking forward enjoying a bit of freedom from the worry of my every day in a mini-vacation in my very own paradise.


  1. Great story! And good for you to actually use it once in a while and I wish I had one! My aching back feels your pain...

    1. I had a nice soak after we hauled two truck loads of wood the other day. It was nice. I was really thankful for that tub.