I’m back in Stepford for a brief trip to consult with our contractor and obtain a building permit for the incredibly exciting NEW KITCHEN AND FLOORS I have been offered as a bribe to return to the
tiny wooden shack charming Craftsman cottage we own in Stepford.
I’m staying at our lovely neighbour’s house across the street which is empty while they are in her native Turkey for a month. Their house is huge and only a few years old. They tore down their own
tiny wooden shack charming Craftsman cottage and built a giant four-bed/three bath plus office and garage with sweeping American driveway and it all came out of a kit that arrived on a truck one day. We watched it being built over the course of a summer and although it is not exactly my style, I must say that now I’m sitting in its large, ranch-style comfort on one of their squidgy sofas that converts into a Laz-Y-Boy style recliner at the touch of a button, I’m coming around to appreciate the design ethos.
Still, our little house will have a nice, white Shaker kitchen (tiny) and pale, distressed oak floors (luckily, we don’t have much square footage at that price ) and our sofas are naturally squidgy thanks to eight years of small people jumping on them and building forts out of the cushions. Husband has little difficulty reclining on them of an evening and in fact quite often doesn’t make it to bed until the wee hours, having fallen into a deep and satisfying slumber whilst reading an incredibly interesting paper on the theoretical reduction energy of various metals.
It’s just as well we’re redoing all of these things, especially for our current tenants as otherwise they would probably lose their entire deposit in carpet cleaning fees alone. I went into the house today to do some measuring and I think the word that best sums up the conditions in the house would be squalor.
It is absolutely disgustingly dirty.
No, not just untidy, though it is that. The house is revoltingly, utterly, completely, mind-bogglingly filthy.
I don’t think they’ve cleaned the bath since we left a year ago (really!) and the carpets are strewn with such layers of dirt that if we weren’t going to replace them anyway, we’d have to replace them. I can’t quite work out what they’ve done – clog dancing over dried cat food, perhaps? The kitchen surfaces might possibly be not vile, but as every counter is covered up to the edge in bottles and cans and plates and odd appliances you wouldn’t know, and they have so much stuff in the house – bags and bags and bags and boxes and odds and ends of things – that I am hard pressed to think where they will put it all when it comes to moving out day in a few weeks’ time. They’re not students, they’re young(ish) professional people, a man and a woman (not a couple) of about 30 years old, extremely nice and easy to get along with, pay their rent on time, but the FILTH is quite astonishing. It actually makes me feel quite smug about my somewhat lax housekeeping and by comparison I am the queen of minimalism. I finished my measuring as quickly as I could, breathing through my mouth so as not to smell the peculiar and very nasty odour in the house and high-tailed it back to the neighbour’s house where dirt is simply not allowed on the property.
One thing that really strikes me now that I’ve been away for a year is how quiet my street is. No traffic noise, little human noise bar the occasional distant power tool – the Ballad of the American Suburban Male – and the pleasant twitter of birds in the many trees. Oh, and the scuffle of skunks and racoons in the evening, the little gobshites, but it’s a measure of how quiet it is around here that you can actually hear them squeak. When we move back there will be much more noise, especially as Five’s best friend is my neighbour’s son, and her three year-old daughter worships Eight, so they all shout across the road to one another but that is a joyful sort of noise. Five got a walkietalkie for his birthday and I think he’ll give one to his friend so they can crackle and hum at one another instead of shouting (I’m not sure that’s better, actually.) And if you listen very carefully you will also hear the sound of Husband snoring on the squidgy sofas whilst still reading that fascinating paper. Listen closer still and you may hear me opening and closing my new pull-out pantry and swirling water around in the giant single-bowl undermount sink.
Not because I’m actually cooking anything, you understand. But just because I can.