Almost two years ago, I walked past a big "SOLD" sign, nailed a pride flag to the front door of a house and called it mine.
After years of living in apartments and homes, both alone and with partners, I finally had a piece of the rock. My own piece.
This home purchase, my first, was a big deal. I researched it and purposefully chose Ferndale because if I had to pay taxes, I wanted those dollars to go to a gay-friendly community. I also wanted a large yard for my two dogs to run in.
My first night alone in the house I ran into plumbing trouble, or so I thought. The tub wouldn't drain. I had just scrubbed it out and as I rinsed the suds, the water started climbing. Vaguely remembering something the inspector said about slow drains, I ran to store and bought Draino. I plunged and plunged.
Frustrated, I decided to take apart the overflow drain. As I pulled out the last screw, my face fell when I realized the drain was closed. All I had to do it flip that little metal knob down and the water disappeared. Of course I had maneuvered bathtubs in my life before this experience, so I try to chalk that snafu up to new homeowner jitters.
So began the first of many repairs and improvements I would make to my palace during the next two years.
The first few months were filled with manic unpacking, working in a fevered pitch hanging blinds and organizing cupboards. And just when I thought everything was in place … the toilet started leaking.
At first I was in denial. I saw the basement pipe looking a bit wet. Summer condensation, I told myself. But upon closer inspection, the damage was undeniable. My toilet, the only one in the house, needed to be replaced.
I drove to Lowe's, and was quickly paralyzed by the never-ending line of toilets on display. Short ones, tall ones. Victorian style, institutional style. My head started to swirl, so … I called my Dad.
Knowing we both have long legs, he suggested that I purchase a tall toilet. "But what about houseguests? Will I have to buy a step stool?" whispered into my cell phone.
"Jilli, I have one question for you: Who uses your toilet the most?"
With that, it was settled, and I bought a tall one-piece Koehler toilet.
About a year later, I noticed a constant drip in my bathroom sink. In all honesty, it was there the day I moved in, but I did my best to ignore it. I tried the usual novice things, like twisting the knob real tight, hoping to make it stop. But nothing worked. So I remained in dedicated denial until the Chinese water torture drip…drip…drip…catapulted me into action.
Confident I could fix this problem without calling my Dad or a plumber, I drew upon my inner-butch and surfed the Web. Within a half hour I found what I needed, ran down the hardware store and started pulling apart my sink's water fixtures. After installing a teeny spring and washer, i turned the water back on and … no drip! I'm sure my neighbors could hear me dancing with glee!
The last two years have been filled with a variety of home-improvement projects: my water heater literally exploded and partially submerged my basement; a fawcet on a basement pipe broke off, spraying water like a shower; and I almost blew myself up while trying to light the pilot of my dryer. Mental note: Perhaps I should avoid the basement.
The most difficult issue involving my house happened a year ago when my neighbor's tree fell on my house during a wind storm. The branches tore all wires from my home — but somehow the main power never cut off. I had to call the fire department and before long my house was surrounded in yellow caution tape. The story took a turn for the worse when I realized my sweet neighbor was a renter, and his landlord was virtually unavailable — for almost five months!
So I tempted fate, and crossed my fingers hoping the little piece of rope the electric company used to tie my main power to my house would hold up.
And it did.
Perseverance, and a new homeowner pitbull attitude, prevailed, and the landlord finally paid for repairs.
My house was built in the 1940s, so I was prepared for things to go wrong. But when they do, there's no way to prepare for the shock and absolute anger at the house's disregard for my schedule and pocketbook.
But the upside is that I learned I am self-sufficient, and that when I ask my inner-butch to come out and play, she's a tough broad and gets the job done.