It Begins at Last

I stood in what used to me the main hallway of the house, leading to the bed and bathrooms. Except it wasn’t a hallway anymre and there were n bedrooms and no bahrooms to be seen. Instead I was looking at an empty shell of a house, the walls all gone. Remaining were the broad gashes and bare wood of celing beams that seemed to welcome the public restroom echo of voices and noises. The interior of my home was in a giant 40 yard dumpster squatting next to the house. I looked up through a hole in myroof, its perimeter was squared off, showing the shape of the chimney that used to be there. Turning a full 360 degree circle revealed the same general devastation in every view.

I was ecstatic to see it. What had been the estate of my mother in law was being erased, removing her stamps and icons of home in favor of my own. The house I’d lived in as a guest for over four years was now mine, and soon it would hold my stamping and iconc possessions into the future. The house had been mine for a year, really, but the rest of the family still treated it as “their mother’s place” and showed up and availed themselves of its comforts with impugnity –whether I liked it of not. In just a few weeks, the place will be completely different.

I designed the new floorplan myself, using a program from Home and Garden TV made especially for designing homes. It’s easy to use but has most of the features a professional CAD (computer aided drafting) program would contain. I spent a couple of months trying out this or that division of the space. Then there was the huge heap of forms and back and forth interaction with the VA’s specially adapted housing group. Dealing with them is actually very different from the “usual” VA. They are very customer oriented and are more reminiscent of a hospitality organization that happens to do renovations. I was also very lucky to have chosen the perfect contractor to do the work. Totally familiar with the VA system, they took the total load of administrivia off of my shoulders and greased the way for the project on all fronts. In later posts, I will describe this company because they definitely deserve recognition. The company is all about veterans and show it at every turn. Builder’s Choice Home Improvement is the company any vet in the Pacific Northwest wants to hire for contracting work. They treat us like royalty. It’s kind of humbling how much they spoil us.

But in the empty sounding shell I’m staning in, I can envision my ideas coming to light and chortle heartily at the progress a mere three days has made. It was acutally kind of funny; I made arrangements for them to start on Tuesday morning at 8 am. I had a very rough night before, and so I slept late. I didn’t get up until 9am, and when I opened the door of my room, I opened it to find they had already removed all of the walls except the ones that formed my room. They literally had the bulks of the walls gone. It was quite startling to come out expecting to use the bathroom for my morning routine, only to see that I no longer had a bathroom. A worker paused a moment and smiled at me. He was holding my toilet and said to me “It happens fast, huh?” I should say so. I ended up doing my morning thing in the only raminainf bath at the far end of the house. It will be left alone through the whole process; it’s the only thing my plans left intact. My wife and I moved into the Quality Inn for the duration of the demolition. We converted the garage into a temporary living space, and Saturday we will move into it. That will be my home until the middle of October.

After so long, so many steps, so many discussions and research projects, it’s all finally happening. If I could walk, there’d be a lightness in my steps as I danced with glee. The VA program to help disabled vets adapt their homes to their needs has paid three quarters of the hundred grand this project is costing. I’m footing the rest and so my life savings just dropped to zilch. But it’s totally worth it and I’m very grateful to the VA for having this assistance program. But the real treasure is that I will have a home that is mine through and through, styled to my tastes and needs, a guest no longer.

Pretty sweet.