Maintaining and fixing old things is sometimes daunting. Cars, appliances, hearts not to mention minds. Today I’m referring to my house built in 1938. The Queen of Denial, I am expert at ignoring problems. I’ve lived for years with knobs that came off when you tried to open the door (the front door to boot – and we lived with it that way for years!) a leaking shower head, a broken porch step. You get the idea. I call these quirks so they seem charming.
I try and tackle most things on my own. Recently that meant cleaning my gutters including digging up, clearing out and putting back together two buried downspouts. But most plumbing and all electricity issues, are beyond me. When these things become big problems, I reluctantly call a professional.
Does doing that scare you? It terrifies me, imagining the cost – thus my avoidance. For years, my basement has periodically flooded usually after doing laundry. For a long time this was temporarily solved by getting my waste-water pipe snaked every year or so. I have a nice guy who charged me a reasonable amount to clear out the roots that regularly moved into my old cast iron pipes. I figured this was just something to live with because of all my beautiful trees. Occasionally I’d buy that expensive root killing powder and flush it down the toilet but now I have a commode (replaced by my daughter with me assisting) that doesn’t use as much water and I didn’t like the idea of all those matter-eating chemicals lingering in my house pipes.
About a month ago I had to call back my snake-guy after he’d been here only months before. He suggested that the time had come to figure out what the big issue was. Fixing it was beyond the capability of his machine.
And thus began my night terrors and house-anxiety. How big, how expensive would this problem be? Was there a broken pipe somewhere under my lawn or worse, would it require digging up the city road, surely costing me the value of my house to fix? I started waking at 3 in the morning to torture myself, imagining scenarios about all sorts of catastrophes. What was I thinking to imagine I can stay in this old house on my own? Etc, etc. What-ifs ran through my head until the sky turned pink with sunrise.
The problem has been fixed, could have been much worse and was solved for a very fair price and worth every penny. I do have a little PTSD so when I do a load of laundry or take a long shower I go down to the basement to check all is dry. It will take time to realize that in fact, the pipes are clear and waste moves out and far away through the city sewers.
The worst part was, as it almost always is, the not-knowing. I can concoct some terrible demons. And I did. I stressed for weeks. So I now embrace the metaphor and visualize my clean pipes taking away ALL the physical and psychic accumulation – the WASTE I’m guilty of hanging onto for too long. That includes worry and fear about so much old stuff. It’ll be okay and so will I, vintage and all!