The Joy of Homeownership

Homeownership. It’s the dream of most adults to eventually own their own home, right? Whether it be a house, a condo, an apartment, or something mobile I think most adults would agree owning their own residence is a life goal. I’ve owned my home for over a decade now (although “owned” is a strange word to use since I pay a huge chunk of money to the bank every month to stay in this owned home but I digress…). I look at commercials now depicting young couples excitedly taking selfies in their brand new homes and I think…suckers.

So to be completely honest, I purchased an old house. I bought this house from my parents and they bought it from my father’s family. It is special to all of us for various reasons and there is a small part of me that never wants to leave it…an increasingly smaller and smaller part of me.

My ancient home is beginning to fall apart around us and we are doing our best to keep up with the maintenance while keeping an eye on the housing market. Do we put money in? Will we get that money back out in a sale price? Should we save for a new house? We need big repairs to be done while also managing little issues all around the house. Not to mention we’ve been here over ten years while raising three messy humans and it needs fresh paint on every single flipping wall and new flooring. It’s all so exhausting and recently I hit my limit and announced that all I wanted to do was sell this old tired house and find us a cute apartment in the city to rent for the rest of our lives. Why this drastic shift in living arrangements? One word: Raccoons.

So one morning, just as it was starting to warm up outside, I came downstairs and smelled…something…in my family room. I couldn’t decide what it was. It smelled sort of musty so I went into the basement and kicked on our dehumidifier for the season and opened some windows and promptly forgot about it. The next morning, I came downstairs and it smelled slightly different. We have a full bathroom off of the family room but we do not use the shower often. So that evening I gave the bathroom a good cleaning and ran water through the shower thinking maybe something had gotten stuck in the drain pipe and had been sitting since the last shower. The next morning, yep, worse. So my husband grabbed some liquid clog remover and dumped it down the shower drain and did a thorough search of the basement to be sure nothing had been leaking anywhere. Nothing.

That evening I was sitting on the couch in the family room and I just couldn’t even stand it anymore. I begin pacing the room and I began to sense that this smell was not coming from the bathroom. Rather, it was coming from under the family room itself. I opened the windows (which are in the front of the house) and caught a HUGE whiff and almost passed out. “Ummm, Babe”, I said. “I think it may be coming from outside.”

So my house used to have a front porch that was first walled in to become a three season area and then eventually walls were blown out to make that square footage part of the house. There is no basement under this section of the house since it was once a porch but there is open space that we can use for storage. We gain access through a hatch my father created. So my husband now said that he remembered seeing an opossum running through the yard and he wondered if maybe it found a way in there, became trapped, and died. He promised to investigate in the morning, which happened to be a Saturday.

I took the kids and left for the soccer field and reminded him to please figure this out because I’m tired of being nauseated in my own home. After the first game we had a break so I decided to grab an iced coffee and call him to see if he wanted anything. The phone rang and rang and he picked up at the last minute, gasping for breath. “DON’T COME HOME!!” he yelled and then wretched. Um…WHAT?!?!

Long story short (I know, too late), he had opened the hatch and jumped down in there only to find himself standing among three very large, very dead, decomposing raccoons covered in maggots and other assorted…stuff. Truly, the stuff of nightmares. One of these raccoons was actually up on top of some scaffolding we store in there which meant every night while I sat on my couch relaxing in front of the television this animal was inches below me, dying, and then dead. Oh yeah, I’ve had some moments thinking about that disgusting reality.

Well my husband deserved some sort of award for what he had to do next. I called animal control and they told me if we can physically remove the dead animals then it’s our responsibility. So I said, but what am I supposed to do with them??? He said, well you can bring them down to the town dump (and the thought of these things in the back of my car made me vomit a little in my mouth) or simply leave them at the curb for my next garbage pickup. Ummm….that was four days away. Remember that week in May when the temperatures soared up in to the 90s? Yeah, this was that week.

So my husband shoveled those huge, disgusting raccoon corpses out of there and got them into large garbage bags. All the while I drove the kids around in circles waiting for it to be “safe” to go home. He then deposited them near our back shed where they would stay…for four days. Oh, the smell. I couldn’t open the back windows of my house because every time the wind blew it was fresh horror. I would go out every morning and try to avoid looking at them convinced that maybe the bags had moved a little. I had a nightmare about zombie raccoons roaming around my yard. I was convinced another animal would get into the bags one night and we would wake up to a whole new nightmare. Four days of this.

The night before garbage pick up my husband worked late (of course!). He mentioned to me, “Hey, how about you drag those bags down to the curb?”. And I laughed and laughed and laughed…and then vomited a little again in my mouth.

He eventually came home and dragged them down and I went to sleep praying the trash collectors would actually take them. And we woke up to that nightmare I had described earlier. Something (we are thinking birds) had gotten into the bags overnight. I opened my front window in the morning and saw, all over my driveway, fur (and yes, I then had more mouth vomit).

So my saint of a husband went out there to meet the trash collectors with a $20 and they took the bags. He got the hose and washed down the driveway. Over the next week we worked hard to get rid of the residual smell in our yard, under the porch, and in our nostrils. And I decided that we no longer need to own our own home.

Anyone want to buy a house? It’s a lovely old home with lots of charm.

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