So we started the first of the house renovations: replacing all of the windows and doors. We’ve needed to do this for years but put it off because it’s a pain in the ass. A smarter person would have waited until spring when the weather was a little warmer (since the temperature in the house is the same temperature outside). But we are not smarter people.
The twins sobbed the morning before the window people arrived. Sobbed. Took photos of their cruddy old windows. Kissed the panes of glass. It took everything in me not to start shrieking, “do you kiss every piece of garbage before it goes in the bin? YOUR WINDOWS ARE CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP.” As is, I did threaten to never tell them again before we make changes. I told them that if they didn’t stop sobbing, I would go ahead and make all the decisions for the kitchen without them, and they’d come home and see an entirely different kitchen with no warning. That stopped the tears and made me feel evil.
I spent the morning very anxious before the window people arrived. I don’t do well with strangers in the house. Plus, I work out of the house, and I still needed to work. I had no idea how much I’d be able to get done. I dropped off the kids at school and drove back to the house, pausing outside as I looked up at the windows, realizing it would be the last time our house looked like this. And then I took out the phone to take a picture because I was suddenly feeling a bit weepy too for our cruddy windows. Not weepy enough to kiss them, but weepy enough to snap an extra picture for the kids.
And then the workmen were here and they were knocking out the windows. Doing home renovations is a bit like surgery. You dread the lead up, stressing about the time off from work and the interruption to your life. And then the during is pretty awful as people are walking around your house, covering it in a fine layer of dust and making a shit-ton of noise. And then there is the recovery; lying in bed and sniffing in the strong smell of caulk as you and the house recuperate. And then there is the day when all is healed and you enjoy the new-found health of your space.
I’m not going to lie. Replacing the windows sucked. A word of advice if you are considering doing this: they remove all the windows at once and leave big gaping holes in your house for a few hours before they pop in all the new windows at once. Which means that if you do this in spring or summer or fall, you end up with gnats or mosquitoes in your house. If you do this in winter, you end up with a cold house but at least nothing flying around afterward.
Though we lucked out and the first day was warm-ish. Warm for winter, though the skies opened up 15 minutes after they finished. The second day was cold but sunny. The third day… yes… there was a third day because these people seemed to want to drag the smallest job imaginable into the longest stretch of time, was fine as well. So it was just very lucky that the weather was what it was, the biggest problem being the wind blowing bits of leaves and dirt into the house.
I went up on the first day to peek after they popped out the upstairs windows. It was a very strange sight; these rectangular holes in the house. If I had their job, I would always be worried that I’d accidentally fall through. It happened to my friend’s child; he leaned on the screen when the window was open and tumbled down to the concrete below. I tiptoed up to each hole to snap a photo, as if the hole had the ability to suck me out of it like a portal into another dimension.
The second day was a little less awe inspiring and more seriously-how-much-longer-do-you-guys-need?
And the third day was a stare-at-the-clock-and-wait-for-them-to-be-finished feeling.
After they left on the first day, I went upstairs and opened the window. Actually, this was after I checked the basement to make sure they didn’t let a mass murderer into the house while I wasn’t looking (you can never be too careful). But after I did my check and before the storm began, I sat on the floor of our bedroom and opened the window. It was difficult to open our windows before this point (and in some rooms, impossible). While air molecules circulate and we’ve obviously opened the door millions of times, there was still this sense that the air in our room had been with us since we moved in. It contained all of the moments that had gone into our life in this house, infertility and treatments and raising the twins and several novels and a play and hours of television and book reading and talks in the dark while we slide under the blankets. We’ve eaten ice cream with these air molecules and made love with these air molecules and made major life decisions with these air molecules around us.
And now I’ve opened a window.
And I’ve let them out.
And I’ve brought new ones in.
And then the rain started to pour, so I closed the window and started to clean up the dirt and dust left from the first day.