Tuesday 11 December 2018

Thinking vaguely of going again. But, nah

It's a lifetime commitment, this 'finishing off a house' business
It's a lifetime commitment, this 'finishing off a house' business
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

You think you're finished. You think you will do this one thing and then it will be done and you can sit back and relax - but you're never done, are you?

Ninety per cent of the time you're enjoying your house, not even consciously, just being in it, forgetting all the heartbreak involved, and just taking it for granted. You remember now and then to be grateful for it, and some days you see something afresh, or from a different angle, or in a different light, the first light of spring maybe, and you think how lucky you are to have a home, this home.

But mainly, when you think consciously about it, it is to think about the things that aren't finished.

Nothing gets finished off in the first few years. You're so tired of decisions and shops, so overwhelmed from picking everything from light switches to skirting boards, that you just don't have the heart. And besides, you're broke. You're adjusting to a new level of debt repayment, and you're trying to work off all the sneaky side loans you got. You even resent the house at times.

But things niggle. There are some things you can't change. These are the things you can get really, really angry about at times. These are the things you would have done differently if you had been keeping a proper eye, if you had had time to think.

You have to let those things go. But there are things you know you can do and you should do. These are the so-called finishing touches. The paper lampshades from Ikea were only every supposed to be a temporary measure. You had always intended to find a 'lighting solution'. And the garden maybe lacks a bit of soul. It was easy to just paper it all in fake grass initially, but it needs something else, a bit of life.

You got a few new cheap chairs last summer but you still dream of having some proper garden furniture, one of those outdoor suites. But when you go to buy them they are suddenly not worth it because the summer is nearly over and shure what summer do we get in Ireland anyway and shure you might as well wait until next year now.

And the coffee table. You need to get a coffee table sometime. But the right one needs to present itself. But then again, it won't present itself until you look. It won't just appear in your life. You need to go to the coffee tables. They won't come to you. But for a few years you're too traumatised to hit the ring-road satellite clusters of shops. You've done your time in those places.

It is a lifetime commitment, the finishing off business. You will never be there, but always closer. Of course the finishing touches should be the fun bit. This is the bit where you can just focus on one thing, on one specific deficit and finding the perfect solution for it. You're not fighting all the fires together.

And I will do it. Because this is not our house - this is our home, and we fought hard to get it, and my three girls are so happy here, compared to those bad old days when we were on the road, in draughty period houses that we imagined we might buy someday and give them the love they needed. We are happy here, but there's just those few niggles I need to finish off.

I think we might be getting over the trauma of the renovation. Because you know what we did recently? We looked at some houses. They needed a lot of love and we couldn't afford them, but for a while we dreamed of starting all over again.

We calmed down. I came home one day and looked around our house, and saw the younger looking so grown up sitting doing her homework at the kitchen table. And the other sprawled on what is now the vintage slouchy Togo chair. And I thought to myself, I love this place, this home we made for them. There's just a few more touches and it'll be perfect.

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