It was one of those now classic homes built back in the late 40s. It seems so long ago, and in such a different world.
I'm sure you know the kind that I am talking about. So many people after WWII started to build. It really was kind of a boom, they say.
Many years later I heard some stories about this one particular home, the one that I lived in.
There were the plans. Construction got underway a few times, but never really took hold. At least once, the foundation was poured but proved too weak, and collapsed. The builders sought help and they learned that there was an additive that was believed could help strengthen the foundation. Something called DES, so they thought they would try it. Sure enough it appeared to do the job! A very strong foundation was built and in August 1947, it was time to move in.
Over the years, this house proved to be durable and able to withstand the forces of the environment - those of time that are expected, and also those of the occasional unexpected storms, that happen to all homes. Many times over the decades, there were occasions to redecorate and keep everything new, updated and in good working condition. These times of renewal always were filled with joy as fresh starts
For most of these years there was much hard work to make sure it matched the other homes in the neighborhood. I was concerned that there would be many problems if for some reason this house would suddenly begin to stand out. It took a great deal of energy to make sure this would not happen.
After 60 years or so, there did not seem to be either enough reason or actually caring if this house no longer appeared the same as all the other houses in the neighborhood. Being different is not that bad a thing. After all, over those years it seemed that everyone was different in one way or another. Maybe each of these differences is what makes each of us so special. No more ticky-tack for this house, no way!
No one knew how different this home was inside compared to what it looked like on the outside. For most of the 60 years very few people were ever allowed inside to see what was there. It was pretty scary to even think about letting anyone even peek inside.
It was time to repeat what the original builders did those many years ago.....
There were the plans. Construction got underway a few times, but never really took hold. I sought help and found that my plans were a bit disorganized and not fully formed. I had to take a big step back and figure out how much work it would be and how long it would take - as there was no way it could happen all at once! I also had to plan what I would say if my neighbors asked what was going on, especially if they thought it would negatively impact the neighborhood. Luckily, I never had to deal with that.
The final plans formed up and I knew that all the construction work would take a few years, but that was OK with me. There was a fair amount of preparation work necessary before any major work was done. There was the scraping and priming and preparation of the old surfaces, so they were made ready for the new coats of paint. This did require being careful with the different chemicals used in this work. It was important to follow the usage directions to assure the desired outcome. In hindsight I am glad that I did.
Once the prep work was done the first year required putting a brand new face on the exterior, taking down all the worn though clapboard siding and replacing them with new ones. This was a major job and was quite expensive. I knew the roof needed replacement but that was going to be one of the last things done.
The second year of the plan was to replace the plumbing. The 60-year-old original plumbing still worked fine, but this was more of an esthetic issue in that it just didn't match the new exterior. It took me a while to decide on the right fixtures that I wanted, as only the best would do. Once this was completed it did take me a while to get used to it all. It was quite different from the original. It took some time, but I have learned to love all the new equipment.
Over the third year I finally got around to replacing the roof. I did this in stages, as I was a bit surprised at the how much the cost of all this was adding up to.
It has been a few years since I completed all the work on this old "house." None of the neighbors ever complained. In fact they seem even friendlier, or perhaps that is actually me who is being friendlier. It is so much easier to chat with them and anyone now, than it used to be. Some even say, it has improved the neighborhood. What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be.
I am also taking good care of my house now, and never let it get in to any form of disrepair. I am not sure how much longer I will get to live in this place, but it is finally the home I always dreamed I would have. It really is my home, sweet, home.
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. For more information about Grace, her work and how Gender Variance Education and Training can help you, visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .
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