After my aunt died, friends sent me the nicest cards and emails. Most of them ended similarly: I hope you can get some rest now.
When we pulled into our driveway after the trip from Lewisburg, I looked over at the darkened house that my aunt owned for a year. The house. What am I going to do with the house? Her furniture? Her books?
On Saturday night, my husband Mike asked to take me to dinner — just us. We went to Lola’s on Bridge Road and ordered two pizzas and a pitcher of sangria. That was for me. He drank beer.
I sat there, quietly, staring at people sitting at tables around us.
“What am I going to do with that house?” I asked him. Everyone. Anyone.
“You don’t have to do anything now,” he said. “You aren’t on a schedule. Take it a day at a time.”
But I can’t let the house sit, I countered.
“It’s your house,” he added. “Do what you want with it.”
I always thought my second home, if I had one, would be in Southport, NC. A nice little cottage with a view of the Cape Fear River leading to Bald Head Island. That’s what my lottery winnings were going to buy. But right next door? Who needs two? Maybe it could be a dorm for the girls if they attend a college nearby…in 10 years….?
Fretting, I studied the walls. They were pained the prettiest shade of gray…a type of neutral that was brought to life by bright white trim…and a planked ceiling…with stainless fixtures and scenic photography framed in black metal.
“I like this color,” I said to him, my right eyebrow twitching (probably the sangria). ”It would look nice in…”
“…her living room?” Mike asked. A smile curled at the side of my mouth.
“With light floors.” I continued.
“And black and white checkerboard tile for the kitchen,” he suggested.
Ah, yes. A fixer-upper! A summer project for the family! Ah, bloody hell yes!
After an hour of swapping ideas and trading decorative thoughts, we were well into the remaining contents of our bottles and glasses, laughing like we hadn’t in months. Maybe years.
“We’ll call it The Abbey!” Mike exclaimed. (This is especially funny considering how small the house is.)
And then what will we do? Grab a stick and walk the grounds? (Which is downhill and mostly rock.)
“With the dogs!” he said. “Now you have Winston.”
Ah, yes. I also inherited my aunt’s obese Corgi.
“Do I have to call you Lord Grantham?” I asked.
Now, I’ve heard that couples can experience fights like none other than when they attempt home improvement projects. I’ve been warned that some of the worst arguments have taken place in the middle of ripped out kitchens and bathrooms. I’ve been informed that a wife’s job is to select pretty paint and paper, while the husband’s job is to do the work himself. Alone. Just tilt the flashlight, keep the kids away from the saws, and hold the level (as well as my tongue).
I can do that. I’ll spend the money and he can spend Saturdays (and Sundays). But if we do end up divorcing over windows and doors, at least His Lordship will eventually have a place to live.