Goodbye Guinea Riviera

Leaving our place was the essence of bittersweet…

I stood in the misty rain that fell the whole day that we moved, just for a moment (because we had a lot to do), and thought about the kinds of sweetness tied to this life, this house.

I will miss the cocky little Carolina Wren that bravely flew under our screen door’s 4-inch gap for years to build her nest in our entry way. She would swoop off the nest and out under the door every time I opened the inner door to come out. Then she’d be all bossy, like, “What ARE you DOING?!?” until I was in my car and she could resume a-sitting. When our landlords finally replaced the door jamb, she made do, making her nest in the crook of a piece of gutter that was falling off the house.

I will miss our garden. For years we have lovingly grown and tended too many zucchinis to count, so many green beans that I once almost didn’t like them anymore, carefully observed the transformation from flower to fruit, watching the tomatoes and cucumbers and eggplants and peppers swell until we picked them.

I will miss our porch. Our poor, lead-contaminated porch. The porch we had to cut off and keep off this summer, peeling paint like decrepit beckoning fingers.

I will miss our kitchen. Not for it’s zero counter space or crappy linoleum…but for what happened here. We started this blog in the kitchen. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation at our kitchen table. I labored at our kitchen table. My best friend got engaged in our kitchen. We made countless meals that we shared love and laughter with friends and families over. There, in that kitchen.

I will miss the end of the road. It’s only a few tenths of a mile from our old house, we walked it sometimes three times a day with our dogs. From the end of the road, we looked out at the mouth of the Perrin Creek into the York River, and out the mouth of the York River into the Chesapeake Bay. The river was never the same. In 8 years there, not one day was it like another. It always made me recall a lecture on Brownian motion, my first year in grad school. There are so many kinds of watery surfaces you learn when you live by the water – choppy, glass, foamy, prescient, chaotic, rhythmic, blue, green, turbid, reflecty (that’s a word)…and every nuanced state in-between.

I will miss all of our nearby old and new friends and neighbors. On this I shouldn’t expound, for I will begin to blubber. You’re all great. And we love you and will miss you terribly.

And the bitter will dissolve quickly, making way for our bright future. But, for humor’s sake (and so you can understand some of why being forced to leave wasn’t that horrible after all), here’s a list of the top 10 things I won’t miss:

1) Driving past my best friend’s house (she lived 6 houses closer to the main road, so I had to pass it to get anywhere)…because she no longer lives there. Every time, since she moved, it pulled at my heartstrings, and I missed her so. Not hardly a day went by when we were neighbors, that we didn’t go for a walk, share a meal or a recipe. The people who live there now don’t take care of her roses. They don’t wave. I dislike them for their sin of not being her.

2) Our landlord put-put-puttering over at 7am on his glorified go-cart, down our driveway, causing dogs to bark, babies to wake and parents to be grumpy. Every. Single. Saturday. Sundays, too. And Monday holidays.

3) The handle/pull-less particle board kitchen cabinets that have inspired endless dreaming on Pinterest for sleek, sweet new ones…with knobs.

4) The fact that this house neither stays warm in the winter or cool in the summer, but loves to stratify, so that the upper 2 feet of the kitchen are warm in the winter, the steps and upstairs landing are inferno-hot in the summer and the bathroom is like our private jungle room.

5) Mold. My enemy. See above climate issues.

6) The family down the block who swore in court that their dogs are harmless, even though one bit W, and on numerous occasions attacked me and WV and other friends. I know our friendly animal control guy, Steve, will be happy we are no longer Gloucester residents.

7) The god-awful poison ivy and oak that seems to creep and edge every green surface.

8) The flying mice with hypodermic syringe proboscises masquerading as mosquitoes.

9) The crack that kept growing…and growing…separating the upstairs from the wall, the raccoon family that brought the stench of death and rot into our ceiling crawl space the summer I was pregnant with WV (and our landlords did nothing), and the general disrepair and decrepitude that went un-addressed by our landlords, actually. There’s only so much one can do to repair a house that isn’t theirs.

10) OH YEA, AND THE LEAD PAINT!!! Siyonara!!!

Leaving our place was bittersweet…but more sweet, that’s for sure. Sweet for the future and sweet for the memories we will take with us. There is no way to replace those lovely, quirky, hidden things that made a house a home. But these things we loved were intangible anyway. I am looking forward to finding new friends and birds, new water, new wonder, a new place to call home.

New, sweet beginnings. L’shanah tova!

If you give your landlord a (positive) lead-based paint test…

If you give your landlord a (positive) lead-based paint test…you know, the home-test kind that you get from Lowes, that they said we probably didn’t need anyway because we should be “fine” since we’re so far removed from the 70’s when it was banned, but then 2 out of 3 tests come back positive, they probably will get a real testing company to come and audit your house (like you’d wondered if they’d ever done in the first place and asked about). And they’re gonna find lead paint. Of course. Which means, naturally, you’ll get kicked out, because now you’re a liability to them.

Ok, I can’t keep this trope from the children’s book alive, but suffice it to say, we’re being kicked out of our home of 8 years.

This has caused me/we to be: 1) In a ridiculously stressed out frenzy, searching high and low for an adequate (short-term) or excellent (long-term) place, 2) A terrible friend – b/c if you thought I was in a baby-induced sleep deprivation walking coma, you should see me now (I found the computer mouse in the tub the other day, my cell phone in the fridge, and let’s just say I haven’t cleaned up dog puke I noticed three days ago), 3) Very sad. Our sanity is suffering, right along with our garden (weed-choked; haven’t even had the heart to post our glorious garden info, since now it’s all moot), our pets (no special walks), and our plans for WV’s first birthday. 4) An insomniac. When WV goes down, we should sleep riiiight? Nope, the wheels just keep spinning around our plight and we’re tired. Very tired. 5) Very familiar with lead paint test kits, detection, remediation, exposure… I just have to hope there will be a silver lining to this unfortunate situation – we’ll find a place, a better place, and karma will bite our landlords in the butt big time.

There are many behind-the-scenes details, as with any story. For instance, they gave us the news via email. We’ve all been tested for lead poisoning, with levels of lead found in our blood that indicate exposure but do not alarm our Dr. enough to start any kind of treatment. We’re eating lots of calcium-rich foods, which is the best way to self-chelate. And although I would like to say more (alot of it involving expletives), I think I’ll wait ’till this situation is behind us, for prudence’s sake. So, alas, our time on this road named after a communist island, and in this house we’ve made a home is short. We’re going to take this mini-homestead, drop it somewhere else and make a ripple effect. MexicanNights 003