Closet of Anxieties Our Life Travel

Exposed – look away and you may not find everything as you left it

In his absence, Bob’s world was unalterably changed—torn up and rearranged.

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.

Bob en route to Kansas from Oklahoma City

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.

Our recliners stabled in the dining room with construction materials.

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 awaits demolition and restoration.
Master bath, exposed for what it’s always been: lumber above damp earth.

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.

Sunflower seed stash and mouse hole found between shower stall and drywall.
An abandoned mouse nest in the fiberglass insulation.

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.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

11 replies on “Exposed – look away and you may not find everything as you left it”

Ohhhhh my, have you both had a heck of a year already. But the azaleas show the better brighter days ahead. Happy Easter, Happy Spring! – Jane

I’m so sorry for the upheaval, I enjoyed your writing of it though very much.xox

Wonderful piece, Camille. April showers will abate and you can head to the woods to avoid the project.

Great idea and thank you for sharing your woods. I fled to Stinking Creek the other day and noticed the fringe tree is in bloom. Always something wonderful happening in the understory.

Great piece, especially that first sentence! Enjoy your new floors and the Return of Bobo!

Thank you Linda. I worried that first line was a little much. I write this stuff shortly after crawling out of bed and never know what’s going to slip out. 😉

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