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…)