I pretty much knew these last few days would be zingers and I wasn't wrong. Whenever you walk into your old life and look around and walk back out it's always a little gut wrenching. We did a lot of that this past weekend. The house* in the Paris 'burbs was empty and new renters were coming so we were forced to make a quick trip up north to check it out and prepare it for the new people arriving three days later. We couldn't put it off any longer.
Just for the record I was right in my evaluation of the first renter and his ego. I never got a chance to blog about it; but he didn't pay the rent much and left behind some serious messes and a mailbox full of recommended letters. Call it women's instict but we will have to pay to have the brand new living room floor resanded because his little dog peed everywhere and left stains on the floor and even on the wall. Did I mention how much I hate renting out this house. If we could sell it and get out from it with our shirts partially intact I would do it in a heartbeat but no lender can seem to help us find a way out...unfortunately.
Otherwise it's a very pretty house and I'm still a proud parent when I walk through and see all the work we did. Scraped knuckles, elboow grease, paint plastered in hair, it was an extremely rough three years where the payoff was in pure beauty. I was very relieved that the previous renter didn't paint the doors or woodwork, whew!, and that they pretty much left everything as was. That was a good point in their favor. The new renters seem a bit fussier and had a list of projects that they wanted done before moving in, odd because we had five people stop and ask about renting the house just in the short time we were there, desperate people asking if they had any chance to get in. We did one or two things on the list but stopped short of painting the pipes in the hallway and things like that. The old plumbing pipes I find really interesting, --from turn of the century and stamped with a scrolled GDF logo--so I'd purposely taken the old paint off and left them bare. Projects like that freaked me out a bit. Hopefully they won't cancel 19 hours of laborous scraping and polishing and paint them all white! You see why I'd love to just sell it.
We saw old neighbors and had way too many aperos and dinners and wished very fleetingly that we could move back. I'd had it out with the Savoie Dragon Lady right before we left from home for this trip so I was feeling a bit dejected and unneighborly and lets face it vunerable. It was a much needed dose of friendliness. But as we all know you can't step twice in the same river, the river and you change so it never works. It was kind of like that. The town seemed suddenly small; the people were still fabulous and nice but the atmosphere seemed stale and I quickly noted that nobody got out and walked much or participated in many activities. I remembered being like that when we lived there. I was a wallflower in house slippers puttering monotonously about my life, internalized. It was probably the right moment for it because Charlotte was just a baby, but it couldn't have lasted much longer and it left its mark on my personal life.
After leaving this house for the last time three years ago we moved to China and Seb and I seperated and set about the process of filing for divorce. It was a bittersweet moment to step back inside and see the scars of our marriage all over the place. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor and I tossed and turned reliving all those moments the four days we were there. It was such a mix of feelings handing the keys over to the agency to rent the house to new people. I wished we were handing it over to new owners instead. It's almost like that house and holding on to it is like holding onto a moment where everything wasn't quite working. We came home, brim sloshing with angst and stepped onto the doorstep of here our little Savoie house bought when we were newlyweds, childless and terribly optimistic. It has a lighter feel and Dragon Lady neighbor aside it is a happy place with a good history. As difficult as the four day weekend was it helped put a perspective on everything.
*(if you care to read about this house's history and how we redid it go to Labels in the sidebar and link to This Old House 2)