I live with my soon-to-be husband and my nine-year-old daughter in the top part of a duplex in a pretty awesome city. Everything is within walking distance for us. Stores, a huge park on the water, the library, the hospital, restaurants, my job and my daughter’s school. Everyone on our street has dogs, and some restaurants on the main road by our house actually allow you to bring said dogs in to eat with you. Most of the people on the street say hi when you pass them, and my daughter has a ton of friends on the block.
As much as we love the neighborhood, the house, however, is an entirely different story.
This house is owned by a landlord who is one of the nicest people I have ever met, but the house itself is sort of treated like that creepy uncle that everyone tries to avoid at reunions. Our landlord lets us do whatever we want here, which can feel like a huge victory at first. But when one realizes that it’s only because he has no energy left to worry about the pile of wood and bricks and early-century insulation, it all starts to feel a little depressing.
The windows shake and fall out of the sunroom walls when it rains, the bathtub almost never drains properly, and dangerous looking waterlogged black spots have begun to appear on our bathroom ceiling. The light in our stairwell leading down to the porch works sometimes, we have lights in the attic that don’t seem to work at all, and we found out when we first moved in that one of the lights in our kitchen, when turned on, somehow manages to turn the bathroom light on in the house downstairs. A woman died in our house in the sixties and never quite got the eviction notice, and while she spends most of her time stomping around in the attic, sometimes comes into the main living area and makes the house feel cold and heavy and opens cabinet doors and stuff. Our kitchen drain sometimes smells like dead animals. We have these fat and horrible spiders that build nests on all of our windows so we can’t open them. Ninja centipedes come scattering out from underneath furniture, causing me to retreat to the bathroom to shake and cry for 10 minutes. The house is unbearably hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Everything creaks and snaps and groans and hates us for being there.
All of these things mesh together with the high price of rent that we pay and sometimes make it difficult for us to validate continuing to live here. We have tried to get out of it in the past, but we have two dogs, which makes finding a new place difficult. We also have to stay close to where we are because we don’t want our daughter to have to switch schools. Our attempts to find a new place are typically short lived and end depressingly.
But there is something else that keeps us from trying too hard to find a new place. Despite all of its flaws, there is something adorable and promising about our house. I realized this one day when I compared her (the house) to our animals…
I am slightly obsessed with animals that have disabilities. Both of our dogs are three-legged, one of the cats is three-legged, and the other two cats were rescues. I think part of my love for them stems from the fact that they are so special that the masses typically don’t want to deal with them. I have a very “If no one else is going to take them, then I will” sort of mentality, much to the dismay of the hubs. And sometimes, I see this house as the same thing.
An old, haunted home, forgotten about by the landlord, ignored by potential tenants. There is a sort of charm to that, an almost motherly attachment to the poor thing that nobody else seems to want. It keeps us here, keeps us layering on the bright paint, talking to the ghost when she comes around, and spraying bug killer on the windows. I want to love this house because nobody else seems to want to, and I think that’s what has always kept us here. It’s tough, sometimes thinking that we can do better, or worrying that we won’t be able to afford this place for much longer.
Despite its many problems, we are trying our best to think positively. The ghost makes the house interesting to our friends and family, and gave me something to write about here. The place is big, and our landlord lets us have all the animals we want, and he lets us paint the walls and rip down wallpaper. And since we’re here, we don’t have to worry about paying a security deposit on a new place. This home isn’t perfect, but for the time being, we are doing our best to enjoy the place, flaws and all.