Since both the computer and I are still fighting our respective viruses– neither of which seems to be improved by the excessive application of Lysol, by the way— I thought it might be a good time to sit down and write the post about some things I’ve been meaning to share with you for a while. For a number of months, actually.
As someone who has posted pictures of herself covered in head-to-toe dirt, and doing incredibly stubborn (and sometimes stupid) things on the internet, it should be clear that I don’t have a problem sharing my stories– and parts of my life– with whoever is interested enough to read them. It’s important for me to say that those are just bits and pieces of my life. When I tell a story it becomes a concentrated version of reality– quicker, funnier, more poignant, maybe with a lesson that is easier to identify in writing than it was at the actual moment that I learned it.
But I still hope that there is truth in the stories I tell… that I’m not perpetuating this idea that things are always easy, that people are always clean and smiling when in the middle of a project, or that things always turn out the way you expect them to.
After four-ish years together, MysteryMan and I decided that while building a house with each other was a pretty awesome experience, living in it together for the rest of eternity was going to be a different story entirely. So we’re not going to. See? Not exactly the way we expected.
If your reaction to that is anything like the people we’ve told in person, I imagine the first things you’re asking– right after picking your jaw up off the table– is, “Okay, who screwed up here? Who’s leaving who? What fight did you have? Seriously… curtains are not worth breaking up over!” Followed closely by, “Oh my god, who is keeping the house?!”
The truth is, we knew before this house-project started that “happily ever after” was a bit of a crapshoot. But when faced with the options of playing it safe because things might not work out, and embarking on an adventure as a couple who liked, respected, trusted, and got along really well with each other? No brainer.
A lot have people have said, “Oh my god… the house! It killed your relationship!” But honestly it was just the opposite. This house taught us that even with our completely different approaches to life, we could still do awesome things together. And maybe it also gave us the confidence to make the right decision about our future. No one screwed up here, or got fed up with the house, or had a fight over curtains. We just decided that it wasn’t right for either of us.
So we amicably called it quits. Like, if there was an award for “most amicable break up” I think living on the same property and finishing a house together for several months post-split would put us at the top of the list.
And the answer to the other big question is that since the house is right next to MysteryMan’s parents, it was always going to be his. Luckily we were super smart about building the house together as unmarried adults who may not spend the rest of our lives in domestic bliss, so splitting everything will be pretty simple.
The truth is that the last two years have been a great experience, and even had I known the outcome would be that I would live in a garage for a year and then not spend the rest of my life in a house I just built, I would have done it all over again. Will, in fact, probably do it all over again. After all, you can’t write the end of the adventure before you set out on it… and if things don’t work out the way you expected, you find a new path.
That’s the beauty of life, there’s no end to the adventures.
So, what now? Here are the questions that people have asked me most often after getting The News.
What about the donkeys? To some degree it depends on where I end up, if it’s a place with room for a pasture I’ll take them with me and MysteryMan will get more (they came from his aunt to begin with), but if it doesn’t work out that way I’m still retaining visitation rights. I love my girls and just want them to be happy, even if it means they don’t get to chew on my hair every day.
Now what are you going to do? DIY, of course. It’s what I do. I bought my first house as a single 22 year old woman who knew nothing about houses, as a single somewhat-older-than-22 year old woman who knows a lot about houses I’ll do the same thing. Buy a fixer-uper and fix ‘er up. Or maybe build one from scratch. Yes, it was nice to have someone to help with the heavy lifting, but I’ve always said you shouldn’t let the prospect of “can’t” be the thing that defines you.
I’m bummed that there won’t be a bunch of wonderful “after” pictures to share with all of my visions for the Memorial House (I know, I know, they were supposed to make up for 18 months of pictures of me covered in sawdust) but that right there is a lesson for all of us. Sometimes in life, there is no beautiful staged “After.” But If the best you ever get is “In Progress,” well, at least you tried.
This won’t be the last you see of the Memorial House, there should be quite a few changes as we get the house in shape for appraisal and I’ll be sharing my vision for each room (to make some future decisions easier on MysteryMan as he finishes things off for himself.) But I’ll also take you on a tour of some future properties I’m considering so you can see just how crazy I am. (Hint: 100 year old farm house, anyone? Because you know, I could probably live in the barn for a year while I fix it up…)
*blinks furiously multiple times* Wow.
First of all, I want to applaud you for having the guts to write this. I’ve always admired your honesty, in fact, I try to emulate myself after your honesty in my own blog. Simply because it’s so refreshing to read that someone elses’s life is not always rainbows and butterflies, and all that crap.
Secondly, I am sorry that it didn’t work out for the two of you. I loved reading your exchanges — they always made me chuckle. But I’m glad that the two of you figured it out and were able to be adults. That takes a lot of balls to do.
Third, I’m excited to see where the future takes you. Take on the 100 year old farm house. We live 87 year old cottage. It hasn’t killed us…..yet.
So. A big hug to you from NC. And put whiskey in some tea. It works wonders.
Thank you Sarah! I read the whisky-in-tea thing and was like, “Why didn’t I think of that two days ago. 😉
I echo Sarah’s sentiments exactly!
I’m so sorry things didn’t work out (coming from another co-habitating with her boyfriend of many years but not getting married girl). What sounds awesome though is how mature, thoughtful and practical your relationship and the two of you were and still are with each other.
You are amazing, skilled, and a wonderful dreamer that brings those beautiful dreams to reality. Keep being honest. Keep being hilarious. And keep saying no to “can’t.”
Amen Meryl… “can’t” won’t be taking me down! I really appreciate the words of encouragement.
I’m glad you are both ok with things. I was wondering just the other day what he was up to. I hadn’t noticed you mentioning him in a while.
I can’t wait to see what new adventure you get yourself into. Take care!
Yeah, being talked about all over the internet is only something he had to endure while we were a couple, I’m totally respectful of his privacy now and I knew it would start to seem weird after a while if I didn’t give everyone the full story,
*This* is why people love your blog, K. Even going through something this tough, you have this amazing blend of humor and wisdom (wisdom? yes. cheesy, perhaps, but true). I have so much respect for how you’re facing these new circumstances – you are a class act.
I hope the virus lets up soon, and I can’t wait to hear about the new properties and future adventures!
“Wisdom” I love it! It makes me feel much more mature than I have any right to be 😉 I’m making a T-shirt. Wise Woman With Tools.
Your rockstar-ness continues! I’m with everyone else that I’m beyond impressed with how both of you seem to be handling it – and I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. Sending you good vibes, and I hope you get full custody of the donkeys. 🙂
Thanks Liz! Those donkeys love me so much, I don’t think they’d let me go too far.
I am sorry to hear how things ended up, but am glad you seem to both be ok with it and I look forward to watching your future endeavors.
Wow – I almost don’t even know what to say. I’m so sorry about everything, K. You are such an inspiration and as Liz put it – still a total rockstar! You seem to be handling everything really well. I think it would be so hard to build and blog about plans for a house you secretly knew wouldn’t be yours. I hope you two stay close so we can continue to see its progress, but I CANT WAIT to see what you get into in a place of your own. Thanks for always sharing, even the hard stuff.
Truthfully I had to take some weeks away from working on the house because I didn’t want to lie about it… which was good because it gave me a chance to build some other little (portable) stuff I’d been wanting to work on. And it definitely won’t be the last you see of the house!
Wow. You’re amazing. I admire your ability to get up, wipe the sawdust off, and start again. And I really hope you find a place where you can keep the donkeys. 🙂
“Wipe the sawdust off and start again.” That’s awesome and I’m adopting it as my personal motto!
As soon as I read the post title, I knew what it was about.
Well, this sounds familiar. Except I kept the house. And in the process of finishing it myself, I’ve made it much BETTER because compromise was no longer part of the equation. Every time the ex comes over, he comments on what an awesome job I did and that my ideas are way better than anything we came up with together.
Love the way you’ve “gone public”. Can’t wait to see what you get into next.
It’s so true that things go quicker and easier without compromise… although MysteryMan never really cared much about what colors/materials I used in each room, as long as he didn’t have to worry about it!
It would have been awesome to keep this house, but I’m clad MM is going to keep it because he’d definitely no going to take on a project of this scope again!
Well, the only thing constant about life is change, so good on you both for realizing that forever was not meant to be and managing to stay on good terms at the same time.
I’m sorry this phase is ending for you, but I’m also curious to see what you get yourself into next.
Thanks Elisabeth! You’re absolutely right… things change and you just have to go with it!
DIY your life, Honey!
I have so much respect and affection for you.
I have to say that having the DIY attitude probably made this whole thing a lot easier than it would have been otherwise!
I echo Kim’s sentiments b/c I know how it goes (3 homes down to 1 now for me) Things are going to work out for you ~ sometimes compromise is not the answer!! Best of luck with the property search. Selfishly, I can’t wait to see the next transformation take place;)
3 homes to 1 sounds much more manageable! You’re totally right… there are things you can compromise on but “happiness” isn’t one of them.
This was beautifully written. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures and I hope you keep the adorable donkeys.
Thanks Elisa. I just can’t imagine not having them in my life, so hopefully it works out!
Well honey, the truth is…I think I knew all along. Your writing is really beautiful and very transparent. It is just that your words and writing style convey it all so well. I was secretly hoping that you were okay every time I would read. I am so happy to find out that it is amicable and that it was just a growing experience where you each took something away from the relationship! I look forward to continuing to read your new adventures in DIY!!!
It was a while before we told our families because we didn’t want it to be awkward for them (he worked for my and we live by his) but I also didn’t want to lie about it, so I’ve been toeing the line for bit! I’m glad it wasn’t a complete shock. You’re absolutely right that it was a good experience we both learned from. On to the next adventure now!
OMG!!! I had no idea and now I feel terrible having asked you about MM and the house in my previous comments. You are incredibly brave and a tribute to women everywhere. As hard as this is, I always believe that things happen for a reason and someday, that reason will make itself known. Until then, keep your chin up. You can do anything!
Peg, there’s no reason to feel bad at all! I figured when people started asking it would be the right time to tell the whole story– something I’d been putting off for a while. I’m with you that things do happen for a reason!
Just a big smooshy hug from me. No words of wisdom…I know how painful even something that you both want can be.
You are quite the inspiration. More than you’ll probably know. I tip my hat to you and wish all the best of adventures. Hope we get to come along for the ride.
Don’t worry – sharing my adventures is what makes them fun for me. Plus I totally lean on awesome commenters to help me make decisions. I couldn’t do it without you guys!
Your attitude toward pretty much everything is so damn …. HEALTHY … that I really can’t believe it. Good for your guys for figuring out what’s going to make you both happy. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next project you tackle is going to be!
Well, MysteryMan and I are both pretty easy-going, and we had this whole unfinished house to contend with, so there wasn’t a lot of room for emotional upheaval 😉 And we both know we made the right decision.
Your heartfelt honesty and beautiful writing style are a treasure and a gift. All the best to you as you continue your adventures! And a 100-year-old farmhouse sounds like fun (as long as I’m only reading about the work it will take!). Take care.
Thank you! And I agree about the work the old farm house, I also consider just building from scratch some days which seems like it might be less work.
change is always hard, but you are amazing and this just means a step into something as equally amazing, even if it does feel like you’re fighting a headwind at first.
it’s interesting, because you have been on my mind…a lot.
take some time. wishing you both peace.
Thanks Patti! You’re always an inspiration.
seriously? this made me *literally* lol! none of that fake lol stuff…
It takes more guts to say “this won’t work” and move on than to stay in something that mostly works. It also hurts. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.
Thanks for sharing your adventures thus far, and I hope we get to follow the ones to come. You are an inspired writer: funny, honest, and a genius with language.
It’s so true, Jen. The one thing I could always say about this relationship was that it “mostly works”… and it was hard to say, “are we really going to give up 90% okay, because we can’t make that last 10% work”. But life is too long not to live 100% – and you only get one chance at it!
Kit I don’t know what to say. It takes a strong person to admit when it just won’t work. I’m sure it’s still very sad though even with a great attitude like you have. Keep your chin up I know you’ll go on to bigger and better things.
Change is always a little sad, but I’m excited about what comes next too. Thanks for always providing inspiration, Robin!
I’m still determined to stop by the next time I’m in the area. We must get together sometime!
Just perusing the replies here because K popped into my head tonight – and had to butt my nose in here (can you butt a nose??… whatever) – if this happens, I want in!! I think beers with you ladies would be a total blast!
Yes and yes! It’s too bad you found that flooring somewhere closer Robin because it would have been the perfect excuse.
Wow! Though I have to say, you seem to have the right take on things, and I am excited to see where the new adventures lead you. Thank you for sharing it with us all.
Thanks Aimee! It’s easier to have the right take on things when there isn’t any crazy drama.
Wow, as a lurker for a long time, I just wanted to tell you how impressive you are, especially in such a tough transition. We are restoring a 100 year old house, & I always think of you when I get a little table saw shy. You are quite the inspiration! I throw my vote to the farmhouse adventure like some of the other commenters. I’m sure whatever you pick, you’ll find the right direction… or just power tool your way a new road. Best of luck!
We all get a little tool shy from time to time, but I’m so glad that you don’t let that stop you. And I love the phrase “power tool my way to a new road”, it’s perfect!
Your perspective is great! Good luck to you and your girls. I’m looking forward to reading about more adventures, however they come.
Well, poop, hunh? I believe some Power Tool Shopping Therapy is definitely in order. 🙂
I think Power Tool Shopping Therapy is in order EVERY day, how long can I milk this for?
Wow. I’m sorry things have come to this. Thanks for sharing. I’m sad, but you do well with the unknown. And, you’ve learned so much. On to the next adventure….
Good luck to you both.
Thanks Yolanda… new beginnings are always a little sad, but there are things we can change and things we can’t. I just remember what I’ve got control over, and throw a hammer at the rest of it!
Honest and Poignant.
There is always a next step and new adventure waiting. I’m pretty excited to see yours.
In the future if you ever drive past Memorial house you still have full bragging rights to point it out and tell the passenger “See that house? I did that”.
Ditto on all of these comments! Kit, you are my diy rolemodel.
If you are ever in Philly/Jersey, Eva and I will take you out for drinks!
I totally retain those rights forever. Also, I think I should just plan a road trip so I can have drinks with all of you. Drinks and building stuff… best road trip idea ever.
Okay, I’ve been out of town and then absorbed in grad school applications and deadlines, so I’m just now catching up. Yes, that’s an excuse, and I’m sticking to it that it’s a good one.
That being said, I’m just now catching up on your news. You and I really don’t know each other, but you had some wonderful, encouraging words to say back when this happened to me only THREE MONTHS ago. Only the house was mine, so my DIY story could continue as planned (sort of).
To be perfectly honest, when you hadn’t mentioned MM for a little while, your announcement didn’t surprise me the way it probably should have. But the weirdest thing about it is that I’m where you’ll be in just a short while. Or maybe you’re partly *there* already. Amicable breakups can be very hard, because there is no one to blame. Moving on is hard, and lonely, and despite your best efforts, you’ll probably feel inexplicable anger at the situation every now and then – especially if you watch Grey’s Anatomy, so DON’T WATCH GREY’S ANATOMY FOR AT LEAST THREE MONTHS. There, a little humor for ya 😉
But if there’s any chance that I can offer some encouragement, it’s that you’ve made the right decision. Knowing that it isn’t right, then trying to stick it out, only frustrates.
I love reading about your DIY challenges because they spur my own determination that even if Scott and I aren’t together anymore, and I’m putting a shabby house back together again, and that even though I’m alone, I am capable. I can do it. And you’ve helped me make that decision.
So I guess all I’m trying to say is that as someone who has been through it and IS going through it, if you ever need to just kick ideas around or send a random rambling email to, you’ve got an ear… or eyes, I guess if we go with reading =)
Sarah – The best thing about the internet is that none of us REALLY know each other, and isn’t it amazing how we still all band together and support one another? It’s just awesome. And it’s also good not to be the only one going through a similar situation… your advice is spot on.
I love that you’re taking on all of the challenges of your house on your own… you are capable and you can do it! We all can, and I think having the strength to believe in ourselves helps us make the best decisions!
Also, I’m totally putting you as a stop on my future Tools & Tequila Road Trip. (I don’t actually like Tequila, but it just kind of sounded right.)
Okay, I’ve been living under a rock. No excuses for just catching up on your news now.
I’m sorry to hear about you and MM – in the way that having you two live happily ever after in Memorial House would have been the perfect happy ending, and who doesn’t love a happy ending? But I’ve been reading your blog since you were that 22-year-old in her first house and one thing that has remained constant is your level-headedness and confidence in knowing what you want (and going for it!). So while this chapter is ending, I have no doubt you’ve made the absolute right decision for you.
You’ve handled the situation with your typical grace and humour and honesty. An inspiration you are! Take care.
Oh my! Somehow I missed this post a month ago, and have been mildly confused by some of the things I have read recently. I finally decided to go back and see if I’d missed something and came across this! I’m so sorry that things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, and that you will not be living in this amazing house you created. I have so much respect for how you’ve handled the situation, and that you were not afraid to do the hard thing to do the right thing for you! Best wishes to you in the future, and I am eager to see where you end up next!
I sure hope there’s a happy ending for you down the road.
As your friend said, wipe the sawdust off and get back to work.