Saturday, August 29, 2009

A very odd feeling

I'm not a big home handyman. Ellen doesn't keep a "Job Jar" of the type Blondie kept for Dagwood, and if I'm doing pick-up work, it's most likely to be on the keyboard rather than with wood boards.

Not that I can't do what's needed about the house (though I need to psych myself up for it at times) - I can plumb and drywall and nail and lay flooring if necessary. I might let the earliest signs of a problem slip for a while, but eventually a little voice in my head nags me with, "You can't let that go on!" So I'll eventually drag out the toolkit and reseat the toilet or nail down the loose boards or whatever, if for no other reason than I don't want the house deteriorating over the years. This custodial instinct was taught me by my dad, and though it isn't as strong in me as it was in him, it's still there.

Which is why that drip in the bathroom sink is annoying me so much.

You see, we're the last residents of our house, and we won't be residing here much longer. We've lived here for 24 years, raised our six children here, and will be moving out before Christmas, possibly before Thanksgiving. Our property lies within the footprint of a major public works project, so the state is buying up our home under eminent domain. It will eventually be demolished, along with every other home along our stretch of street. We received the state's offer earlier this month, signed the acceptance papers this week, and will be closing on the sale sometime in September. We'll have 90 days from the closing to move out, at which point the utilities will be shut off and the house will stand vacant until the bulldozers come to raze it.

This being the case, it makes no sense to do any long-term maintenance on the property. Sprucing anything up, or even patching something that's deteriorating, won't make a bit of difference to the state (much less the bulldozers.) We've known this for years, and haven't done any major improvements for years (which explains the state of our garage). But it's now at the point that even the most trivial of repairs aren't even worth it.

Like the bathroom faucet I mentioned. It's dripping again, and I know just how to fix it. The parts cost less than $3 at Home Depot, and it's ten minutes with screwdrivers and pliers. Nothing to it.

But it's not even worth burning the gas to drive to the store for the parts. In the brief amount of time we have left in the house, the amount of water that'll drip out that faucet is so trivial that it's not worth any effort to repair.

That's the odd feeling. That custodial instinct keeps yammering, "yes, but over time that problem will...", but my reason knows that "over time" doesn't matter in these unusual circumstances. Thus I find myself looking at the slowly dripping water, or the weeds in the yard, or the posts of the garage porch, and realizing that there's no point in doing anything about any of it. In a matter of weeks, the property will be vacant and shut down, the lawns mowed by state contractors. The state of the siding or the weeds in the driveway cracks won't matter to anyone.

In a way it's relieving not have to worry about these small matters, and I'm sure my custodial instinct will have plenty to work with once we move into whatever house we end up with. But for now, it's odd to be enduring this little contest between my subconscious and my reason.

I think I'll go shut the bathroom door.

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