We've had 11 different homes since we've been married. That's a lot, even considering the fact that we'll be celebrating 40 years of marital bliss this August.
To be fair, one of those residences was a three week stay in the San Francisco apartment TBG used while starting his new career; the rest of us remained in Chicago to finish up the school year. But all the others held my family and our possessions for at least two years.
Five years was the most time we spent in any other abode. We changed cities, wanted to own, needed a backyard, invested wealth in real estate, occupied a temporary space while looking for a retirement paradise, and landed here in the desert Southwest, with a firm promise to myself : Never Move Again.
Moving requires purging. The operant question for everything you own boils down to this: Do I want to pay someone to move this? It's surprising how often NO is the answer. After each move, I had less detritus to store. This didn't always translate into organized cabinets or neat closets; I manage to make a mess wherever I go, it seems.
But Tucson is my final stop. Having proven that the house works for wheelchairs, I don't have to concern myself with making accommodations as we age. The doors are wide enough to wheel into closets and toilets and two different showers. There's a small step up to the front door which can, if needed, be ramped with ease. We are there for the duration.
And therein lies the rub. As first-time-long-time-homeowners, we are now, after 9 full years in one home, we are discovering the further joys of ownership over the long haul - things break.
The dials on my washer and dryer have been missing for years. Brother replaced one when he visited after I was shot; the other is turned by grasping the metal stalk (with dry, non-greasy hands) and turning forcefully. The plastic overlay is peeling off, the washer's inner drum is stained, the dryer heats everything to a crispy state, no matter the setting.
We lost the microwave a few years back; I'm still working on getting a stainless steel handle to replace the black plastic one on the new machine. The glass door in the oven is permanently stained; no one has a suggestion for removing the grease which has worked its way behind the gaskets.
The dishwasher racks are new, too. They don't make plastic clips the way they used to; KitchenAid was happy to replace the racks before I finished describing the issue. "This happens quite frequently,, ma'am."
We painted the outside when the first cracks appeared; that was five years ago and those pesky cracks have, once again, reappeared. We debate repainting the inside, but the downside of an open, flowing floor plan is that you can't paint just one room. Everything does flow into everything else, which makes for delightful entertaining but creates problems for small changes.
And now, it seems, we need to replace the carpet in the master bedroom. Nearly a decade of shoes and feet and situps and weddings have created more dirt than fiber. The Carpet Police have given up. It's hopeless, they say. Do we go to a flooring store? Do we call the lady on the tv with the terrible voice? Who knows.
Then, there is the issue of TBG's closet. I always get the biggest closet; that's our deal and I'm sticking to it. In this house, though, the disparity is striking. The shelving and rods in his closet are not user friendly. The door opens into the small space. The shelving is open and he likes drawers, not baskets. I put up a bulletin board in my closet; he wants one too.
The problem is, he's never been willing to invest the time and energy and money to upgrade it. I've offered to use some of my inheritance from G'ma to create a beautiful space for him and, now, finally, he has agreed.
I went to the Container Store and set up a Customer Engagement. A designer will come to the house and evaluate the situation. She will have samples and ideas and suggestions and, when she leaves, we should have a finalized plan for improving the space.
It will cost lots more than I'd anticipated, but I've learned something since becoming a permanent resident - nothing lasts forever. If it's not right, it will continue to bother me unless I take action... action other than moving.
Given that, I asked her to take a look at the laundry room, too.