Saturday, February 23, 2013

I Need A Happy Place

Just about 25 years ago I moved in with the Man. He'd been living in a studio apartment, and we found a one bedroom apartment in the same building. I had 2-3 bookcases. He had 3 or 4. Things fit in just fine.

But it was a high rise building. City girl that I was and am, I'd never lived higher than the 5th floor and in small apartment buildings. I hated the long waits for the elevators. I hated false fire alarms at night. I hated living so high above the trees.

A friend lived in a neighborhood full of low townhouses. It was built during WWII, so the materials varied. Hills and trees added to the lessening of a cookie cutter feel. It felt homey to me--and as a matter of fact, a great-aunt of mine lived in the neighborhood when it was first built.

The friend was about to move out and wanted to rent her unit. The Man and I went to see it and liked it. But we realized that our bookcases wouldn't fit into it easily. But we did find a two bedroom unit in the same community and moved there.

We had a lovely bay window that the cats loved. We had trees and woods around us. It was quiet and peaceful. But already the bookcases were beginning to take over--we had to create a wall with them that made the living/dining area seem smaller. And the second bedroom filled with the Man's books. More and more books.

When SC was born, I gave up the effort of even trying to get him to clear out the second bedroom. She slept in her portacrib in our bedroom. Truthfully, she slept mostly with me, but at some point we needed a real crib.

Right down the street we found a three bedroom unit. It was 2 floors. It needed a lot of updating, but it backed to the woods and looked into a tree. There was space and light. And we bought it.

We moved in stages because of the Man's books primarily. He had over 40 boxes and was shocked at how many he had. But he did nothing about it. And he kept buying books.

That was nearly 18 years ago. That was before JR came along, needing her own room. The room that the Man had taken over for his books.

For several years, JR didn't really have a room. Her crib was in the 3rd bedroom and she slept in it until she was nearly 4, surrounded by bookcases and boxes.

Finally, the Man had to move his stuff out. Some went to a storage unit, which we have had ever since. The rest went into bookcases.

Bookcases in our living/dining room. Bookcases in our bedroom.  Bookcases anywhere there was space to put them.

And more books on the floor, more books in boxes. Even on the shelves, books are piled sideways and backwards.

The Man has thousands of books. He will never read most of them. They are primarily non-fiction on everything from sex in the USSR to the history of the pencil. Really!

And have I mentioned the DVDs--and the videotapes he still has? Or the closet in JR's room filled with boxes containing unconstructed models?

I finally had an epiphany recently. I should have no guilt over the fact that the Man has no "man cave", no room of his own.

He is using the entire goddamn downstairs of our house as his room. Aside from the kitchen, the sofa and the kitchen table, it's all his stuff.

Which is why I started looking for a house this winter. Our area is expensive, and we don't want to move from it, and our house needs some major work. Condos in our neighborhood are popular, and three bedrooms rare though, so I think we can sell it, even if it had to be in "as-is" condition and we got less for it.

Know that I love our house. It has the kitchen we planned and constructed step by step, the kitchen I adore.  The bathroom the Man renovated while I was pregnant with JR.  The windows where first Puffin and Spooky, then Bart and Bella, and now Bella and Molly sunbathe and bird watch.  Nanay's rose bush and my other plants outside. The rooms my girls have grown up in.

 The place of Hanukkah parties and visits by our families and of 17 1/2 years of mostly happy memories.

But I'm 51 years old and I'm tired of living like this. We  need a dining room with space for the table and no bookcases. A living room that looks like a grown up living room.

I want a bedroom where I can see the walls instead of bookcases.

I want a house where I can invite my in-laws over and have room for them and to not have to spend weeks clearing things out first.

Above all, I need a place where there is a basement for the Man's boxes and for his tools, and a room for his bookcases. A place where he can put his stuff out of the way of the rest of us and where we don't have to talk about it any more.Where I don't have to nag him about it and he doesn't have to be angry with me.

If I could have that and not move, I'd stay where we are forever.
But it just isn't happening................ 


enupoo said...

You know, if these were all books he'd read and cherished, or even had a plan for reading, I'd have some sympathy, but it sounds like he just buys them to own them. I don't get it. There are places built by our tax dollars to hold all the books you're never going to read ;-)
You know if you buy a house, the stuff will eventually expand to fill that, too. It may buys you some time, though.
We have a similar situation, though it's about all kinds of stuff, not just book stuff. I don't want to own stuff (kayaks and gear are the exception, but I only want what I'll use.)
It's exhausting.

The Library Lady said...

That's what gets me about his books--they're not getting used. If I put a post-it on every book he owned and hasn't used--EVER-- I could weed his collection by about 50 percent. And some of those books have been in boxes for years!

If we move, he gets his space and that's it. And he knows that. No more encroaching on the rest of us. And if/when the girls move out, their rooms will not turn into additonal space for him.

enupoo said...

I hear ya!

De said...

Life is full of compromises. Other people's stuff is one for me, too. I hope you can get the space you need.

Magpie said...

i hope you find a good place.

Library Girl said...

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

Library Girl said...

Your kids have grown up, literally, surrounded by books!!

Library Girl said...

Many of still wishin and hopin for a happy place . . Any place but here . . The grass is always greener . .