En route to Providence this past April—a mere six months ago—my cell phone rang. Carl, as ever, chauffeured and so I answered the call. It was our house sitter extraordinaire Katie. She has house sat for us, first at our East side home, and then our Park side home, on and off, for years. She apologized for being the bearer of bad news.
“I took a bath in your bathroom this morning and when I drained the tub, the toilet began to gurgle and . . . stuff started coming up into your shower.”
Stuff being a euphemism for shit.
For the record, when I think of a toilet backing up into the shower, I don’t think “oh, the perfect opportunity to begin our humanure project.” Surprisingly, Carl didn’t think that either, if only because the back-up happened at our home in the city of Providence, not in the country at Darwin’s View. No, I looked over at Carl and he at me and we agreed. The universe was trying to tell us something.
I called Roto-Rooter. As we rocketed along Route 146, heading to Providence now for an entirely different purpose than a few minutes before, Carl sang along with the Roto-Rooter’s theme song (Roto-Rooter, that’s the name, Away go troubles, down the drain) while I contemplated what it might be the universe was telling us. A few hours later, the Roto-Rooter guy pushed us over the edge to the answer: it would cost us thousands of dollars to repair the sewer pipes out to the street. They might be able to get to the job that weekend, given it was kind of an emergency. We shouldn’t use the water until then.
Adding salt to the wound, the Roto-Rooter guy’s boss sniffed at us through the phone.
“I told them they should replace those lines five years ago.”
Carl and I looked at each other. Neither remembered calling Roto-Rooter five years ago. I asked for the exact date, please. As it turned out, it was seven years ago, and—most tellingly—three days before we bought our “let’s face it. the house isn’t in Providence, it’s in Cranston” house.
I called the young couple then staying at the house to tell them about the back up and the water use restriction. Then Carl and I debated which realty company to call.
I am not bitter. It has been time to sell that house for a while. We became official residents of New Hampshire in 2016, in time for the November elections. And have spent less and less time in our Cranston/Providence home in the last couple of years. With the sewer issue, the balance tipped. It was time. We affirmed our decision to each other time and again. It made all the sense in the world.
Ever with my priorities straight and to celebrate the arrival at Darwin’s View of my mother for a three week visit, we adopted six chicks on April 8th. With their grating peeppeeppeeps emitting from the cardboard box next to the wood stove, we avoided any sign of change. A couple of day trips to Providence to interview realtors, yet we postponed packing until after my mother’s departure. Thus, it wasn’t until the first three weeks of May that we packed up all our stuff and more stuff. We toted it up to New Hampshire where the just finished addition to the house began to bulge even as we staged the Cranston/Providence house. Down to its simplest, sleekest form, it was just a house now, not a home. Right?
The Open House was May 21st, initiating the usual bumps and hiccups of house sales.
The closing was September 6th. The buyers’ lawyer took a minute to comment on how she had had to research the property boundaries, given the house was sited in both Providence and Cranston. And so she had seen the website with all the pretty pictures of our beautiful house. She loved it. She went on and on about how unique it is, what great work we did renovating it, how fabulous. . ..
I interrupted her. “Excuse me,” I said. “I am deeply ambivalent about selling this house? I would suggest you stop talking right now. I haven’t signed anything yet.”
Nervous giggles all around. The sale proceeded. Our realtor, perhaps to lighten things up, commented on how happy her son is with all the records we had given away. All Carl’s and my LPs. Mine that I haven’t listened to since Carl and I got married because we hadn’t set up the stereo system, relying on CDs instead. I didn’t tell her sh! Nor did I say, I want them back. They are a part of me and I have been out of touch with that me. Give them back. Instead, I signed the papers where I was supposed to sign. I was letting go. It wasn’t my fault if the house and the records were stuck to me in a Buster Keaton’s handkerchief kind of way.
I always swore I wouldn’t move to New Hampshire from Providence. I didn’t. I moved from Cranston, from our in-between the beach and the mountain house. Buying, renovating and moving into that house began the transition from Rhode Island to New Hampshire and ba-da-bing. When shit comes up in your shower, the universe is telling you something.
Did I misinterpret it? Was it telling us to move back?
Absolutely not. We have moved forward, and are, in typical us fashion, readying ourselves for the next project, whatever that might be.