Pile of Shoes 12/3/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Today, a friend of mine found herself driving through my new city, and I am blessed to have been able to spend a little bit of time with her. As my regular readers are aware, there have been several big events recently in my life, especially the purchase of a house. Not a new house, mind you; it’s about a century old, but it’s new for me. With five bedrooms, two bathrooms, three floors (if you count the basement), two house extensions and many great features, it’s really just too much house for me. What that DOES allow me to do, however, is to close up certain rooms for renovation as I’m living in the others.

Having purchased it, quite literally, just yesterday (from the writing of this post; it was two days ago from when it will post), it obviously has no utilities. I actually took the first steps today, by replacing all of the exterior locks, and installing deadbolts. Because I taught in the morning, it was literally the only thing I had time to do before it got too dark to continue since I don’t have electricity. But it was a good start, and things went much more smoothly once I realized I was trying to install the deadbolts upside down.

I like the classic design of these antiqued deadbolts and handles. They’re really quite beautiful, but I also chose them because of their high noticeability. They are very obviously new locks, very obviously not the ones that were there originally. This visibility does two things for me. First, if a copy had been made of the original keys, anybody holding them will know at a glance that their keys just won’t work any longer. Second, they look very large, so anybody looking to break in (since I don’t know the neighborhood yet) will see that I am spending money on security and will hopefully be deterred.

Although it’s December (is it really December already?!?), the weather was mild enough today that I opened all of the windows that I could. The idea of doing so is to try to get that stale smell out of the house that had been left without a furnace for however long it’s been on the market. Unfortunately, there was no breeze, so it didn’t help much, and as I was installing these locks, I was rather colder than I had anticipated being. I realized at one point that when I stepped outside, it was considerably warmer. Not warm, but certainly comfortable, as opposed to my very dark, very old house. Still, though, it was a good reminder to contact the utilities companies and get gas, electricity and water services started.

In the inspection report, there was a problem noted with the plumbing. I have had this in my mind the entire time, but unfortunately, I have no idea what the problem is. All the report said was that the plumbing failed the “pressure test” but gave absolutely no details. This means that they attempted to put air into the plumbing up to a certain pressure, then see if the system could hold the air. It could not, but what does this mean? Did the system hold no pressure whatsoever, meaning a large break somewhere, or does it mean it slightly lost pressure over time, indicating a little leak somewhere? If it is the latter, it could be as minor (I’m assuming) as a leaky faucet, but if it’s the former I may have just requested that my house be flooded. I did take time to find what I believe to be the master shut-off valve of water for the house, and I have a plumber on call, but I’m still thinking about it.

So, as I was having a lovely meal with my friend, she asked if I was excited about the new house. I’m not sure, honestly. Maybe the reality of owning a home hasn’t yet hit me, or perhaps the problem is that the house is cold and dark, and therefore not feeling like a home yet. I explained this, and that utilities should be turned on tomorrow, wherein she, being a good friend, said something to the effect of “that should help.” My mind shot to that report about the plumbing (the gas and electricity inspections passed), and I said, “yeah, if I don’t flood the house.”

That’s when she said it. She absolutely has me pegged, to a point that I don’t believe anybody has ever verbalized to me before, and in a way so elegant that it struck me to the point of writing this blog. She said, “You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, aren’t you?”

Wow. Dead on target. This is a powerful, and a bit painful, statement to hear. And she’s right. In fact, my response to her was something along the lines of “if you only knew the pile of other shoes that I’m buried under.” But with this attitude, how can I ever get past those things that have happened? Everything that is new, everything that should be good, everything that I should be celebrating in my life I, myself, tend to mute, because I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall. This house is an amazing leap forward for a man who has been as down on his luck as I have been, but I’m waiting to see what will fail in it. My new car is a great purchase (I did pick it up today before I met with her) of a very good vehicle, but I fear it’s not very sporty or “sexy” for a man of my stature (I say it’s “young for me”). I joined a new dating site to see if I can’t kick start my wanting love life, but I dwell on the fifty-seven years of bad luck I’ve had. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be wary of potential problems. The report did say the pressure test failed, but the real issue is that if I’m always waiting for the next bad thing in my life to happen, how can I enjoy the good things right now? The reality is that I cannot. I’m too guarded about what could happen and can’t soak in what’s going right in my life, for the first time in a very long time. I have a new house! I have a new car! I’m looking to start dating, but all I’m wondering is when the next failure will be. Even as I write this, the truthfulness of her statement makes me want to cry. She’s absolutely right, but, unfortunately, I don’t know how to break this crippling affectation of my life. It keeps me constantly suppressed, always struggling, and never in a good place. I wish I had an answer. I know I need therapy, and this would be a great thing to bring up with a therapist, but currently I don’t have one.

Maybe the first step is the realization of this major shortcoming of mine. It was a painful thing to hear, but I will be forever grateful to my friend for pointing it out. Now, I am taking the second step, by expressing the problem, putting it out there for my friends and the entire world to see. The third step must be to become mindful that this is something that I do, so routinely that I don’t even notice it anymore, and to ask my friends (yes, YOU) to help me be mindful and point out to me when I’m doing it. The fourth step? I honestly don’t know. But I feel better talking about it, so thank you, already, for letting me unburden this problem with you.

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