You can dress your yard in flowers, post intriguing pics on Instagram, talk like an educated person, and cook French food, but when they pry away the drywall to expose water damage and mouse nests, you are nothing but a cracker in a manufactured tin.
It is chilly this morning and the house is quiet—no grinders, drills, or hammers. Just me staring out at the azaleas, hot fuchsia carpeting twiggy branches. A Ruby-throated hummingbird preens in the garden, toes wrapped around the goat wire, and a green-lipped frog stares at the impatiens I planted Thursday. The air is still, holding its breath, awaiting rain.
In a couple of hours I will pick Bob up at the airport, returning from a week of Kansas farm audits. I will have washed the North Carolina pine pollen from our blue car, and I will bring him to our house.
I expect he’ll find our home unrecognizable in places, blanketed in new blooms, pollen, and construction dust. I’m hoping he isn’t too shaken by the state of our world. We’ve been updating each other with texted photos in an attempt to fuse our disparate realities.
Our living room is bare except for Bob’s flower shelves, our bedroom furniture is obscured by dust, and the floor is agape in our master bath.
Nothing shatters the illusion of a clean and orderly life quicker than finding evidence of rodents in your walls. Here, all along, we’ve been sharing our home with critters who defecate inches from where we pee and brush our teeth.
Our kitchen resembles an after-hours pub, dining room chairs double-stacked and resting upside down atop tables, their unfinished undersides pointed towards the popcorn ceiling.
Bob will discover that we’ve moved into the guest room and that our bathroom essentials now live in our hall closet. How many times over the last week did I find myself searching for a nail clipper or rifling through a stack of bins for a spare towel? Now it will be his turn.
Our offices are largely unscathed, and the kitchen counters function in their normal manner. I’ve restocked Bob’s essentials—coffee, grapes, and cheese—and made a quart of teriyaki sauce and some spiced nuts. We’ll have asparagus soup for dinner—his request—and our customary Sunday dinner of Kentucky Fried Tofu and Brussels sprouts.
I’d completely forgotten this is Easter weekend, so no peas and baby onions in cream sauce, no ham-like roast. Just the ordinary—as close-to-usual—a meal to make us forget the dry Kansas air, the hotel rooms and rented cars, the upturned chairs, the rodent shit, and the damp earth beneath our cozy home.