I’m sitting in the master bedroom of the Inyo house, taking a break from the hot summer sun. I had to stop and write this all down because it was almost overwhelming me to think about it all. Ok, actually it WAS overwhelming me to think about it all and I had to get it out of my head, so I typed it up on my little iPhone notepad, for better or worse. The carpet is gone, down to the plywood, everywhere, because it was totally trashed. I remember how it felt the day I had all my bedroom furniture set up in here and found the perfect light green curtains that put the finishing touch on my own space, in the house I had bought all by myself. I absolutely loved it. It was sort of a refuge from my post-divorce, chaotic life, and now it’s all pulled apart awaiting new carpet for new people who will hopefully make their own new memories here.
The window sills were chewed up by the renter’s dogs, but those will be fixed. I loved laying in bed, looking through those windows, past the pine trees at the Sierra Nevadas, especially at sunset. What amazing colors. I also loved looking out those windows at the rain pouring down, in buckets at times, as storms in the desert are bound to do. I loved listening to the wind rolling off the mountains, crashing like ocean waves against the house. It was such a wonderfully relaxing sound, and if I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was laying on a deserted beach somewhere far away.
The Sunshine Dr. “front porch swing”, which became the Inyokern “end of house” swing, was part of the little oasis I tried to make out there because it was usually so shady. It’s where Steve and I sat all night one night talking until the rooster crowed, while he was still “just a guy” (although I was pretty certain at that point he was going to be THE guy). No idea what we talked about, except that we were both thought that dumb rooster was messed up because there’s no way we could have talked all night long. Silly us!
This is the third weekend in a row I’ve come up to clean up a mess I didn’t make. The two ash trees we planted after my mom died are mostly dead. One might come back but I’m not sure the other will. Three of the honeysuckle on the front fence will survive but a fourth is totally dead. The plow thing in the bed with the cactus is on the ground… the one where the previous owner painted “the Kilburn family” to welcome us to our new home. I remember the day I went out to dig up that dumb cactus because I don’t really like them at all, and seeing a spectacular pink flower, a single blossom, as if the cactus was begging me to let it live. I did and was rewarded every year with more and more beautiful pink flowers. It’s sort of sickly looking now so hopefully it will survive. I just about lost it when Matt helped me move the plow aside so I could rake up the cigarette butts and dog poop. Steve came over and I tried to tell him about how much it had meant to drive up the first time, after I had bought the house, and see my name hanging there… and how it would be nice to do that for the new owners. I’m not sure how much he heard through my tears. Dang… I hate crying.
As I’m trying to mulch in the trees and honeysuckle I keep picturing all the hard work on the fence, making the beds, cleaning up when we moved here and the resulting glorious wildflowers and bulbs that sprang to life each spring, bringing so much color and joy to us. Every time we come now, we bring trash bags full of goat manure compost for the trees and shrubs to help nourish them all back to health. Thank goodness it’s a renewable resource around here!
When I walked in this afternoon, the contractor had finished with the new wood flooring in the living room/reading room area and down the hallway. He’s a neighbor, the ones who moved in behind Aston’s house and who I got that silly corgi from. He’s done some amazing work so far. All of the neighbor’s have been great. Last week I had a long talk with the lady from the house right behind us, the one who fed the goats her veggie and garden scraps every Thursday. She’s the one who, years ago, told me that “my babysitters” had thrown a huge party while I was gone that one time the guys all shot off all those really loud fireworks. I don’t think I ever fessed up that I had been home and had told them to light them off 🙂
That was just one of many gatherings of people I cared about so much. DDR contests and slicing watermelon with a sword and drive-in movie nights on the side of the garage and middle of the night robotics and students crashed on my couch and gathering around the fire for stories and good times. We had BBQs and potlucks and thanksgiving dinners on the deck, where people felt at home enough to bring their friends, and some felt at home enough to stay for a time. As I stand in the kitchen I remember a Groundhog’s Day party, one we had for no other reason than it was a good excuse to get together, where a certain mad scientist stayed late to help clean up and do dishes, for no other reason than he wanted to. That certainly caught my attention.
This home was where I transitioned from Ms Kilburn, single mom of many & super woman who didn’t need no stinkin’ men (well, except that one time the water pipe broke and Alex & Greg tried to fix it and we finally called a plumber in on a Sunday afternoon because a couple of days without running water was enough to break down even super woman defenses!), to Mrs. Kurti, wife of the mad scientist, the man who was finally able to rescue the inner damsel in distress that was always there but didn’t make an appearance very often, mostly for practical reasons. This is the home where I met the love of my life and this was our home after he made me his wife.
I bought this house all by myself, and with the help of many it transformed into home. I bought my first power tools here and we used them to put together the Ikea bookshelves I still have (I highly recommend that all women own and learn to use at least one power tool – its awesome!). My daughter tragically buried her little dog here, experiencing the first major heartbreak of her life. Our old chocolate labrador died peacefully here and is buried in a graveyard decorated by the children, along with several other creatures, including a chicken named “Clucky” (which has some irony given how much Snickers just LOVED chickens!). It seems like all of that was in a different lifetime, and I miss it.
The neighbor had the kitchen/dining room painted a beautiful shade of blue. That icky popcorn ceiling crap is all gone in the front rooms and down the hallway, replaced with a nice texturing that looks so much better. He added base board trim all the way around the front rooms to tie it altogether. It’s all the stuff I had wanted to do if we had stayed, and now we’re doing it all so we can try and sell the house, knowing full well that we won’t get nearly as much as what I paid for it, despite the improvements.
Tonight we spent a few quiet moments sitting on the deck, house lights out, admiring the spectacular galaxies that just jump out at you. They alway seem so close here that you could almost reach out and grab a star. The summer breeze kicked up and felt wonderful after a hard day of work out in the hot sun. I know it is silly to feel this attached to a place, to a house, but so much has happened here… if only these walls could talk 🙂
I think the part that is killing me the most is that I sort of expected someone to love this place as much as I did, to take stewardship and care of what was entrusted to them. I know… expectations are the root of many problems and I shouldn’t indulge in them. I know that it is unrealistic, but I was led to believe this would be the case, and deep down, that’s what bothers me the most. It feels like a breech of trust, and I don’t ever deal well with those. It is deeply disappointing and saddening to have to put this much effort into a place I will never live again. It’s one of those things I’ll just push through and deal with, because it needs to be done, but it sure is dragging out lots a buried feelings. It feels like ripping off a bandaid and pulling off the scab each time we drive up here. That’s probably good I suppose, but not particularly convenient. I just had to take a few minutes to stop and grieve and process, and wanted to share. Thank you to those of you that helped make the memories that makes this place so hard to let go of. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world!