the way we were

27 03 2010

You know the scene… years after they’d gone their separate ways,  a random encounter on the streets of New York and Hubbell (Robert Redford) realizes that he’s still in love with Katie (Barbra Streisand) but deep in his heart he knows he never could have lived up to her expectations of him.  So they utter bittersweet good-byes and go their separate ways.  Roll credits…

So it is with certain relationships in our lives – some things just don’t work out.  As much as we’d like to make changes – do things another way – be something else…it’s impossible.  I’m wondering if that is the story of my relationship with this house.

A few weeks ago during an insomnious rant as per my m.o., I was wandering around the halls of the interwebs at some ungodly hour of the inky blackness.  I revisited a blog I follow (Holyoke Home) about a couple restoring a row house with lots more energy and resources than I’ll ever have.

In one of her recent posts she talked about the journey of dating her home.  We’ve always known, at least from the mortgage papers we’ve had in our hands, that the house was built in 1905.  But what has fascinated me more was wanting to see what it looked like.  Somehow that night through the magic of getting lost in the webesphere, I emailed the city archivist who got in touch with me hours later to say he had photos from some city assessment in 1936 with pictures.

Thus opened my brand new can of worms.  I sat there screaming at my computer, “I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!”  I knew there was supposed to be a window in the bathroom.  I knew there was a reason there was a flat roof on the front porch.  I knew it looked better without vinyl siding…I knew it…I knew..

So with copies of photos in hand I ran to a few shops around town and got the 411 on where I could go to get some of the details right.  Walking into the warehouse/workshop of RJRaven Architectural Windows and Doors was no less than amazing.  And after a short chat about possibilities, he said I’d be a fool to not try to get the house back looking like it once did.  Oh and by the way, to re-do the attic window and upper porch railing would only set me back some $6000 or so, roughly speaking.  Would it end up being like pearls on a pig if I don’t strip off the siding too to take it back to the clapboard and cedar shakes two-tone?  The Dr. will hear NOTHING of that pipe dream.

But I know what I know.  I will bet good money that the cedar shakes are still on the front and side of the house.  I will bet that under the stupid vinyl wrap just under the roof – the sweet dentil detail that I saw as I did a digital zoom-in, still exists.  And on and on I could go.  But it gets me no where for right now.

Landscaping has to be done this year.  Exterior paint has to be done (another reason I wanted old pictures). Then the pitiful bathroom – next the hunter green kitchen – and all the wood floors that have yet to be refinished.  There will never be enough time or money to do all I have dreamed about doing to this house.

But unlike Katie and Hubbel – I’m going to stick with the relationship – as flawed as it is.  We have gotten things done…little by little.  These are the moments I need to stop and look over the laundry list of “un-sexy” things we’ve accomplished – stripping all the oak woodwork on the first floor, restoring the entry way which meant taking down some walls, a new furnace / air-conditioning unit, a tankless water heater, some re-plumbing and re-wiring, a new roof and gutters, attic windows that work, glass block basement windows, new toilets and buckets and buckets of paint.

That is an incomplete list but it was easier to write than to accomplish.  Life is bigger than this house and takes priority.  Meanwhile, it has served to be a home and haven regardless of all its imperfections.  So back to picking out paint chips for the summer’s project of putting the 80’s teal and mauve (the true gag of the colors don’t ring true on this photo) to rest once and for all.

Barbra…sing us out.

“If we had the chance to do all again – tell me, would we? Could we?…”