The house seems so strange now. Furniture is shunted into other areas – the rugs folded or removed. A sheen of dust covers the shining surface of the dining room table, and the living room couch stands in solitary splendor against the wall where the sunrise picture used to be. The floor, from which the buckled hardwood has been pried, is a minefield of unexpected nails waiting to slice unwary toes, even toes protected by shoes.
In the kitchen a section of hardwood remains isolated in the corner close to the adjoining wall of the condo next door. Black discoloration stains it at the corner closest to the outside wall. We think it is mold. The adjuster found that the flashings on the roof were not properly attached, and water has been splashing into the wall for some time. We are not sure for how long, but it is long enough for whiffs of mold to be apparent at times in the house.
This is going to be a long process.
We have been out of the house for twenty-two days. We expect to be out for another month. All this happened over the Christmas/New Year holiday season – so while adjusters have adjusted, and driers have kept the water damage from the water heater failure from extending to other areas of the house, no decisions have been made about what to do and when to do it. We don’t expect that decision to be made until after the New Year holiday is over.
The familiar processes of living are truncated now. Cooking? Meal planning? With one skillet and a hot plate, there is not much possibility. Entertaining? Tiny hotel suites don’t give much space for traditional New Year’s parties. We had a little Christmas tree, because I couldn’t bear to have NOTHING that denoted the Christmas season – so our little artificial kitchen tree, decorated with angels and a tiny knitted creche, took the place of the tree that we had decorated so hopefully just after Thanksgiving. That tree, deprived of all its familiar decorations, stood in the midst of the drying fans for days and turned into a brown shell much more rapidly than it should have.
We are waiting.
Waiting is not an easy process. This kind of waiting increases feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Those experiences are not pleasant, and they can lead to ill-considered actions. Impatient people sometimes don’t treat others well. However, so far we have managed to remain civilized. Rather than screaming at adjusters we have remained calm and collected. We laugh at the inconveniences and focus on gratitude rather than resentment. Sometimes things happen that are just outside our control, and railing at the situation does no good. We wait for good things to happen; we wait for news; we anticipate future events – the ability to wait and to reach into a possible future is both a blessing and a burden for human beings. Seeing all those cats in the picture, who are indeed waiting for a possible future that includes eating fish, made me laugh about our long-term anticipations. Living in the moment really is the best we can do.
I think of others who have lost more than a momentary loss of convenience. The situations of refugees, whose whole lives have been destroyed with no hope of return reminds me today of the grace that we are given. We have a home to which we will return. Surely we can endure a season of waiting.