"Women, then, have not had a dog's chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one's own."- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
"$400!," I shrieked. Yellow, the Golden Retriever, poked his head up from his perennial sleep. It can't be. I was gone for 3 weeks around Christmas. And even though the friend staying at the house in December, turned out to be an irresponsable, the house is an icebox. I'm shivering even though I'm clad in fleece. There's NO way the electrical bill could be this high.
But it was. Turns out the returns in the crawl space were never fastened, likely when the house was flipped in the real estate locura (the one that brought the world financial system to the brink? Yeah, that one.). $400 diagnostic by HVAC repairman. We're up to $800. A contractor says the returns ARE connected. He's charged me $150 to tell me everything is fine. I do what every dignified, independent woman who decided to buy a house on her own does: I burst into tears.
I start mouthing: "!No puede ser!", but the words are trapped in the pit that's formed in my stomach. My personality lines (read: crow's feet) are etched in the bright red canvas of my flushed face. The pads of my index fingers wipe away the smudging mascara. My breath is quivering as much as my bottom lip. I look like I've completed the college walk of shame except fast forward (and here begins the downward spiral): I didn't marry First Love who would have bought the house. I would have been La Perfect Casada, and of course no house tragedia would have ever cursed our happy home because First Love practically came with a Home Depot tool belt attached to his doughy waist which is a big fat lie because he's a Silicon Valley VP who doesn't possess DIY skills, but can pay someone who does. Revisionist history meets delusion.
Then the washing machine stopped. FOREVER.
Dear God, it's me, Vivi. Please stop testing me. I am a good human being. I recycle.
I've dropped $1200 and counting in 4 days, and not on a bag. That reminds me. I would sell my LV wallet on Ebay to help pay for these repairs, but the pop up video of my parents constantly insisting, "Mijita, you have to save," combined with my Catholic guilt, never allowed me to indulge in this Saks department.
When did I fall in love with adorable, colonial era row houses? Shall I blame my college crush before he came out who lived in one on T ST. NW when he worked at the Alphabet Soup network, years ago, and with whom my graduate student self stayed when I visited the nation's capital? Maybe it was my memory of our family's first home--the small, white Victorian near Golden Gate Park. I wanted character. I wanted history. I wanted charm.
"Dolor de cabeza," Mami said, rolling her eyes which is a default reaction when her kids are about to commit una barbaridad.
"Au contraire mon frere," I countered, (Mami thinks this is what's left from my high school French class and not a Bart Simpsonism). "A house from 1898 is not going to be a head ache, I continue, "I don't need a man to buy a house, not Papi (and you) since I'm not asking for help with the down payment, and well, there's no husband." Her face is as crinkled as if she has sucked on a lime. I throw her a bone, which is anything that relates to saving money. "Anyway, It's a great investment. My middle class tax break."
Resolved when I got to DC as a foreign correspondent for the start up Al Jazeera English: I would BUY my first home. Heck, Miranda Hobbs in "Sex and the City" did it despite the social stigma (Real Estate Agent, Title Company Lawyer, EVERYBODY: "So, it's just you?" Miranda: "Yep. Just me.") Anyway, my shabby chic(a) furniture was gasping for air in low ceiled, shell white apartments.
Mine. My Home. And in a moment of childish churlishness. I would put the period after Mi Casa. For one moment, I wasn't sharing.
I go back to my Virginia Woolf. No where do I find an inventory of the malfunctions, the broken appliances (first week I moved in), electrical shorts, and the mugging at gun point in front of my house WITH MAMI AND PAPI that turned my Home Sweet Home into my Little House of Horrors.
I wish I could say this was the first time, or the least tragic of my house imbrolios. Oh.
it's January and we're not halfway through winter. I have NO resolution.