Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home sweet home

I’ve always had the sneaky suspicion that cheery expression ‘home sweet home’ is in fact deeply ironic; and this week/weekend has given a new depth to my instinct.

What a few days it has been, and it’s not over yet.

On Friday we moved, leaving our uninterrupted (except for the smears where I’ve attempted to clean the windows) panoramic ocean views for a cheerful Federation-style semi in Fairlight (to use real estate speak). 

Talking of which I’m nervously waiting a call back from the real estate agent today. After hmmming and scratching my head and generally panicking I’ve realised that satya (telling the truth) is the only choice I have in this situation. They are going to find out about 'The Stain' soon enough.

So, we packed up our belongings, attempted to start the cleaning and got the boxes, furniture, other miscellaneous crap together, and as the last box was loaded into the van by ‘Junior’ (more on the removalist company later) he lifted up our plant from the lounge room floor and then the soggy looking placemat I’d cleverly decided to put this plant nightmare onto. And, yep, underneath the mat was one large brown, balding hole. You could see the exposed plastic where the cream carpet once was before I inflicted 12 months of watering and mould. It was like the aftermath of something horrific (in carpet terms); there was bloodshed, destruction, and oh, hopeless bollocks….. Just when we thought it was a smooth move.

On Saturday they do the prospective tenant viewings and the first thing your eyes dart towards is ‘Hiroshima’ over there… ahh, nightmare. What are we to do? Come clean? Write a note for the agent? Phone them? Of course we were panicking at the time, thinking about our deposit and how that would make a nice holiday somewhere or…. Well no point thinking like this. It’s royally fooooked, as they say in Yorkshire, not in real estate.  We took the coward’s option of course, and because the house was empty more or less, we couldn’t move any furniture to disguise it, so we quickly covered it was some empty boxes and waited it out.

So now I’m waiting for this dude to call me back and I’m feeling a little scared. I don’t know why, it’s irrational. These things must happen all the time, but I’ve always been such a good tenant I’ve never done anything so foolish and destructive to a property. When I finished Uni I actually took a job in a lettings office in Headingly, Leeds. I rented student properties in suburbs like Woodhouse and Hyde Park where kids have, I’m sure, prematurely-grown moustaches (because they’re only about 11), wield sticks and kick cars as you walk back to your house (or show your prospective tenants around). I remember though living in Woodhouse as a student and this element of danger somehow added to the appeal. Back in the late 90s, when we were living there, Tony Blair had said it was one of the suburbs in the UK most in need of urgent welfare. It was crime riddled, depressing, the poor local shop keeper, a Sikh man called Mr Ryan kept a massive Alsatian (and who knows what other defences) behind his till because of the countless number of robberies and threats he had each week. My housemates and I quite liked the bars across the windows, lullabied by the sound of car alarms going off, or the light beam of a police helicopter seeking out the Woodhouse thieves and assaulters among the cobbled back alleys typical of depression era housing in the North. Funny, we, a bunch of four 20 year old girls, just lived there amidst the crime and chaos, like happy, fearless dear in the jungle.

We’re in our new place now, though not without a huge fight with the removal company in which they actually physically threatened A after trying to charge us 7 hours when they said it would take 4 to 5 max, plus other ridiculous premiums they threw in. Stung by the removalist’s heavy-handed, Mafioso approach to business we spent the first night feeling kind of uneasy. I still do. We discovered again more cockroaches in the kitchen, this time it wasn’t the ‘Germans’ of the last place, who are quite small but numerous, it was the big fat ones that rattle when they walk. Then there’s the waiting for the fridge and washing machine – apparently we may have to wait two weeks now despite the guy in Harvey Norman telling us it was due in last week, hence our cancelling the rental of our appliances in the old place in expectation of new shiny fridge and washer. I am buying a bottle of milk every day just so I can have a cuppa to find the next day (or course) it’s gone sour.

I need to chill out but I feel on edge, a ridiculous irrational sense of fear and unease. It’s been good for me to reflect on these times and get some perspective on the dramas, to remember how fearless and carefree I was as a student. Who knows why our perspectives change so much. Maybe it’s because as we get older we cling to our life more; it seems more grim, hard fought, but also more valuable. Got to remember lila again, life’s comedy. The day to day dramas that happen seem to be there to test us, I envy those who can just laugh it off, not take it so seriously, and find perspective. After all none of this is the end of the world. The removal company are not going to throw a brick through our window out of spite – they got their money in the end; the carpet can probably be fixed without involving losing our entire bond (fingers crossed) and a couple of cockroach bombs (and if that fails, pest control) can put an end to the roaches. I’m sure I can manage to buy the food I need fresh, rather than store it in the non-existent fridge. Coincidently (or not!) on a physical level I’m having dramas too. The hamstring is still not on the mend; I’ve developed a deep pain in my left shoulder and, strange of all, my left big toe is so tender to the touch I can’t put weight on it which is really unsettling my balance in the standing postures. So, like my injuries I have to modify, overcome the series of hurdles and laugh about  it.

Ha sweet ha.

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