Clutter

As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, Nicole and I inherited the house we live in from her parents.  It was left to her and her brother, so we basically got an amazing house in a great neighborhood for half price.

It probably goes without saying, but there is nothing about this house that will ever make it worth what the actual cost was.  When people find out that we got this house, that Nicole quickly found a job at Pixar when we moved up here, and that the company I worked for in Los Angeles just happened to have another office up here that I could work at, they are just blown away by our good fortune.  And, sure, it is impressive that all of those things have happened.  But no matter how much good fortune we have, we're still in the hole.  No amount of good fortune can make up for the bad fortune that left us this house to begin with.

It is impossible to overstate the emotional difficulties that come with inheriting your parents house, particularly when a) those parents died far too early and b) you grew up here.  This is what Nicole faces every day.  I can't even comprehend how difficult that has to be.  The hope is that time will make it easier, and I think it has, but there are new problems around every corner.

We've recently started making some larger changes to the house.  We'd already redone the master bedroom, the office, and one of the bathrooms, but these were areas that Nicole didn't really spend much time in, anyway.  Sure, they meant something to her, but they weren't gathering places; they weren't places she spent time in even after she graduated from high school.

The living room is a different story.  Making changes to the living room has been very hard for her.  It's not unlike a Band-Aid, really, except the wound hasn't really healed.  We're trying to take it off slowly so we don't make it worse, but at the same time that's dragging it out.  Pulling it off quickly would probably be too much.

As we moved everything out of the living room for the painters, I had a small pang of regret.  Nicole's parents filled this house with stuff, the necessity of most of it being debatable.  But it's stuff they accumulated over years of living here.  They moved in with considerably less, and filled it as their lives went along.  Maybe not every room had everything it needed right away, so maybe it was pieced together over time.

We inherited all of that.  Every room is full of more than enough furniture.  Need some tools?  There are probably two or three of whatever you need in the garage.  We've lived here for a year and a half and we've yet to buy trash bags -- there are just that many here to be used.

It's the clutter of their life, clutter that filled an empty space.  I feel like Nicole and I are missing an important part of growing up.  This house was never empty.  We never had to budget out how long it would take us to fill it with furniture (although replacing what's here is another story).  We will never accumulate clutter because the clutter is already here, and it's not of our making.

It sounds silly, I know.  But it's a rite of passage that is meaningful.  It's a rite of passage that I enjoy.  I've always loved moving into a new apartment, seeing what fits from the old place, adding new things to make it all work.  I like starting from scratch, building from the ground up.  Here we have to move back to move forward.

The new paint job has already made a big difference.  It has quite literally given us a clean slate (the walls were covered in wallpaper before).  It has made me, I think, overanxious to do more.  It has, I think, made Nicole apprehensive to do more.

I'm sure we'll find a middle ground; we usually do.