Just about two years ago, I and shared a draft of my mid-life crisis plan. That’s right, a plan – a path laid out to prepare for mid-life and the emotional bumpy road of not having had the aforementioned plan in place. More to the point, the plan has has come to fruition, because I kept to the path and ignored the obstacles.
I closed on the Vermont house / future retirement cottage a week ago. The search took some time and there was a near miss and heartbreak along the way, but alas, just as it always does when you believe it will, and you combine that with action… it came to be! Today I am the sole owner of a very tired and abused, but charming and full of potential 199 year old farm house.
I wonder what its earliest female residents would make of this? I suspect when the home was newly built, it was done so for a bachelor farmer and his soon to be bride. Their path was very different - mostly obstacles of what could not be, rather than dreams of what could. A 19th century woman might have lived alone in this house only if she were widowed or her husband away at war. Think of it – the Civil War came decades after the foundation stones from my house were first laid … and just by the looks of it, probably the roof was not long after! As 21st century women, we might forget it wasn’t until only a few decades ago – the mid-seventies – when Congress amended the Fair Housing Act, that single women could even get a mortgage (or horrors! a credit card!) in their own name.
But here I am, walking from room to room in a house that is all mine. Confident and at the same time completely overwhelmed, listening to the drips from the washer hook up, the bath tub, and the sink – even the toilet was running! – opening windows to air out the acrid smell of wood smoke, dogs, cooking, people, and probably dead rodents between the walls. I took "before" photos from every corner of every room and made note of the mysteries and histories that were now all mine.
The first few days were filled with the basics: utilities, propane, exterminator, lawn mower, and locksmith. I had a picnic table delivered from a rosy-cheeked freckle faced boy named Calvin and bought a gas grill (note to self: next time pay the $20 to get it assembled!). We brought out the BFH (big-f’ing hammer) and knocked down a few cabinets just for fun.
I spent three solid days painting and cleaning one small corner of the upstairs just to have a “safe room” for us to sleep while the renovation commences. Before (still renter occupied) on the left, and after on the right. I took an old door off its hinges. Cleaned it and sanded it down to cover the weird metal mirror thing between the windows, added some roman shades, simple white bedding, and painted the crap out evey surface!!
I had the bed delivered, but no, I did not sleep there. I mentioned the exterminators, right?
So much to do and so much to tell about my Full Vermonty adventures … but for now, my point is just this: I DID IT!!!!!