To say that 2011 wasn’t the best of years for our family is an understatement. Not that it didn’t have its moments, but they were overshadowed by my son’s depression and the house fire in May. Jacob moved back home at the beginning of the year and began treatment for his depression issues. It was good to have him home and he helped out a lot. Before the fire, we put in a good amount of work fixing up the house for sale. I upgraded the bathroom and kitchen fixtures, cleaned out a lot of stuff to give to Goodwill, and we both painted – a lot. Some of the work was done by my brother, a painting pro, but most of it fell to Jacob and me. It was his first real experience with painting and mistakes were made, but together we got it done. In vain, in turns out. In fact, it was of the first things Jacob lamented on the ride back from his stay at BAMC’s burn unit in San Antonio: “Oh man, all that painting I did!” You’d have thought he had enough other things to complain about. There have been silver linings throughout the post-fire period and the year did end on a more positive note, thankfully. Jacob returned to school and his own life, Sarah had a good, if demanding, semester at her Florida college, and the house was completely rebuilt inside. Nevertheless, I’m sure not sorry to say “Adios 2011 – don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!”
Now that I’ve been in my house for a little over two months and the kids were back for the holidays, it has started to get that lived-in look – clothes thrown over every surface of the kids’ rooms (mainly the floor), empty soda cans and dirty glasses piled up on their nightstands, and don’t get me started about their bathroom. I didn’t unpack all their boxes since I plan to move in a few months, but somehow their bedrooms looked just as full of stuff as in the past. Their stuff seemed to take over the house. My beautiful new granite kitchen counters were hidden under dirty dishes, leftover food, and recent purchases. The pristine stovetop was now splattered with grease and bits of food. It was all a bit chaotic for those three weeks, but I put up with it as a trade-off for having both kids at home.
Before I knew it, they were both back at college and to their own lives, and I’m cleaning the house, room by room, trying to stage it in anticipation of selling. Sarah’s room looks pretty much the same as it did BF (before the fire) though much neater now that it’s devoid of clothes and jewelry and make-up and stuffed animals and magazines and more. Jacob’s room now has a queen size sofa-bed. I had sold his twin bed over the summer and headed to IKEA to find a suitable replacement for a 6-foot-tall son. It was his task, with his dad’s help, to put it together. The salespeople had assured me it was quite simple, but on assembly day I got a call at work from Jacob to say that it had taken them a lot longer than expected. Yep, that’s IKEA.
The New Year is here, I’m ready to put the fire behind me (as much as possible) and look ahead. It may be purely symbolic, but January 1st gives me that optimistic feeling of a real new beginning. I used to make resolutions – lots of them – with all kinds of specifics to carry them out. Now I know better. Last year my only resolution was ‘Have more fun.’ Well, that didn’t turn out so well in the end. This year I’m following the advice of an author who must be reading my mind when she writes her humorous columns – Lisa Scottoline. In her book Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, she describes making only ‘unresolutions’ and keep doing what was working for her. So here are my ‘unresolutions’: I resolve to continue spoiling my dogs; after all, they’re the only kids I have at home most of the time and unlike my kids, they never argue or sulk. I resolve to keep on buying more books than I have time to read and watching my favorite shows even though it means I don’t go out so much. I resolve to continue cheering on my favorite English soccer team, Chelsea FC, despite the ‘transition’ the club appears to be experiencing. And most of all, I resolve to stay optimistic in my outlook by not giving up on finding love and happiness and fun and the perfect empty-nester house. Welcome 2012!