Posted by: lolalately | August 12, 2012

Trashing Dreams

People who know me well know these simple truths about me;

I’d rather have peace than be “right”.

I’d like to be remembered for my kindness rather than anything else.

I’ll support animal charities over people charities every single time.

I HATE, HATE, HATE the house I live in, with what I believe is a passion as fierce as Satan.

I believe we do not miss what we do not have, and therefore, I no longer dream of having.

Those last two are very much intertwined, and with good reason. Before I lived in this house, I was a happily single woman living a rather carefree life in a small apartment shared with two cats. Walking into my home one was always greeted by a basket of flipflops and an invitation to trade in your shoes for something comfy … you were now entering the “I wanna be at the beach” zone. My apartment was awash in a sea of soothing beachy colors, sea shells, soft lighting, plush pillows, and coffee table books full of picturesque sea side villages, beaches, and the sea. My apartment wasn’t about perfection, it was about something much more valued. Nothing about my home suggested I lived in the middle of the desert. And thank God for that, because I freakin’ hate the desert. How the hell I ended up here, is another story for another day (and a tall Long Island Iced Tea for good measure). But since I was stuck in the desert, I decided to make my home the mirage I needed to get through the day.

I got a lot of compliments about that apartment; how calm it always felt, how welcoming it was, how it made friends relax. More importantly, it made me relax. It was my haven, a sanctuary to which I gladly escaped after a day of fighting the hellish traffic of Arizona’s highways and the lunatic boss I did my best to avoid most days. I actually looked forward to going home, and it was a home … MY home … all mine.

During the first few weeks of dating my husband he would often drive us down a particular road through a neighborhood that looked for all the world like it had been plucked from another time. Lined with big trees and dotted with large homes accented with pastures with horses, I could forget the noise and hustle of the city we’d just left, if even for a few minutes. And as he drove, he would always stop at the top of one side street and glance wistfully to his left at one certain house. The first couple of times he did it, I said nothing, thinking it was just a house he admired and perhaps hoped to own himself one day.

And then one day as he stopped in the same spot, he turned to me and asked what I thought of the house. To me it was just a house. Nothing special, nothing to be envied, and I said as much. And immediately regretted it when he told me that it was his house. In fact it was the house his soon-to-be-ex lived in with his little girl, and the ex’s two older children whom he’d adopted. Ah, I thought, no wonder he stopped to look at the house every chance he got. It made complete sense now. But it was still just a house to me, and not one I gave much more thought to.

Around that same time he casually asked me why I still lived in an apartment (he felt apartments were for young people, and that mature adults owned houses). It was then I told him my philosophy; “you don’t miss what you don’t have”. He seemed to accept my rationale, but went on to ask if I ever dreamed of having a house of my own. Back then I did sometimes dream of such grandiose things, along with whirlwind travel, big diamond rings, and happy marriages. Not long after that his divorce was finalized and his house was returned to him. He would be moving out of my apartment, back into the home he loved. Sadly, he wasted no time telling me how much he disliked apartment living. This despite my apartment having become his own haven. He’d spent many a relaxing and happy hour in my little apartment … or so I’d thought. Having been kicked out of his house when he’d filed for divorce, he’d been sleeping at his mother’s house until after six weeks of dating, I’d impetuously offered him a key to my apartment, and invited him to move in. A decision I will go to my grave regretting.

He wasted no time in gathering and filling boxes with the belongings that now littered my livingroom and filled my bedroom. He’d only been living with me some eleven months, but it seemed as if he’d taken over my little beach shack, mostly with legal paperwork. As coincidence sometimes will have it, it was during this same period that my lease came up for renewal. Since the boyfriend had made no mention of our co-habitation continuing, I could only imagine that he planned to move back to his home, and I would stay put in mine. That thought saddened me. I thought we were happy living toghether. I knew I was in love with him, and he’d said he was in love with me, although I had my doubts.  Still, when my landlord issued a ten-day notice to either renew my lease or advise them of my move-out date, I felt I had no choice but to ask my boyfriend what if any plans he had for “us”. I should have remained silent, and just renewed the damned lease, but back then, I still dared to dream of better things. The boyfriend said he “just figured” I’d move with him (why hadn’t he said so?) and so that’s what I did. I gave the apartment manager 30-days notice, and began my own packing up.

On August 1st of 2003 I entered this house for the first time. Oh how I wish I’d run right back out that door, back to the peaceful place I’d come from, but I didn’t. I wanted to please him. I wanted to love his home because he did. I wanted it to become our home. And I was foolish enough to believe that was possible.

I won’t go into the details of the disaster we found when we entered the house. I won’t elaborate beyond sharing that every single exterior door was booby-trapped to cause glass breakage as we opened it, I won’t detail all the drugs we found deliberately hidden throughout the house that eventually necessitated us involving the Sheriff’s department and demanding the services of a drug dog, or the urine that had been sprayed inside kitchen cupboards and up and down the entryway walls. What I will say is that the house made me cry like nothing ever has. It was completely and utterly uninhabitable for a good solid two weeks, and required carpets to be removed, along with deep, intense cleaning, repainting, and removal of trash the likes of which I hope never to see again in my life.

When the cleaning and repairs were done, we moved in, and I set about trying to turn the house into a home. I hung pictures of his children and his parents, along with a couple of us. I put personal touches that I thought would please him wherever I could. The house was his; it looked like him and it felt like him, with evidence of his hobbies and career everywhere.There was precious little “me” in the house. No trinkets of my past, no pictures of my family, other than photos of my cats on my bedside table. I felt temporary here, it didn’t feel like home to me, in fact I was mourning the loss of my “home”, but I didn’t know that then. I actually felt rather numb. I’d get up early each weekday and make the now longer commute to my office where I’d spend an average of ten to twelve hours, then another long commute back to the house.

It took some time before I realized that I didn’t refer to the house as “home”, it was always just “the house” to me. Now, some nine long years later, it is still not my home. It will never be my home. It is the house my husband lived in and owned with two previous wives; one I’ve never met, and one who has been hell bent on destroying or at least hurting me for the past ten years. Every single time I walk into this house, I am reminded of her presence in my life. The kitchen was remodeled to please her, the wine rack and china cabinet were installed to her specifications, the arched doorways were her idea. She may not live here, but its’ still her house … she is everywhere. I feel her in this house, every single day. She’s a ghost I cannot exorcise.

Despite the presence of my little trinket box collection atop the mantle, my family photos on the sofa table, my book case in the corner, my crystal in the cabinet, it still does not feel like my home, and I still refer to this place as “the house”. A house that I hate. A house that could burn down tomorrow, and as long as my animals and husband and I were out … I wouldn’t bat an eye. We can’t sell the place because like many Americans, we’re upside down financially. My husband knows how I feel about the house. He’s always known. From the very start he promised me we wouldn’t be here more than three years. That was nine years ago.

I recently came across a folder in which I’d collected images of homes and decorating tips. Things I spent years tearing from magazines for the home of my own that I dreamed of having. I tossed it into the trash, but my husband fished it out. Yesterday I found it in his home office, but since he’s out of town, he won’t see it’s been tossed into the trash until it’s too late. The folder is there, but it’s empty now. Just like the dreams I once had. You don’t miss what you haven’t got.

Lola

 

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Responses

  1. You’re a better person than me because I couldn’t live in a house my husband’s ex occupied (much less two of them). My husband had been married previously and sold his house so that we could buy one that was ours. I hope that’s soon possible for you too. Until then, hold your head up. You sound like a pretty amazing woman from what I’ve read on your blog.


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