A Tree

Wednesday I received bad news. But let me back up. Pretty soon after I moved back into my house after the remodel, I realized that I had some sewer problems. Water wasn’t draining properly in my kitchen and if I tried to wash clothes or run my dishwasher then everything would back up and my kitchen would flood. Thus my Facebook status on August 3:

Homeowner Adventure of the Day: dealing with a flooded kitchen. But since my imagination skills are pro from being around kids all the time, I just used it as an opportunity to pretend I was in a sinking ship. And using my resourcefulness, I used the water I was bailing out of my sink and washing machine to water my plants. I would call that a win! J

So for the last 2 months I’ve been doing laundry elsewhere and keeping a bucket under my kitchen sink to catch the water that backs up when I hand wash my dishes. I especially don’t do well with house problems because it touches on hard stuff from my childhood. But I’ve been making do until I could figure out how to fix this problem.

A plumber friend of mine basically let me know that we’d need to dig up and replace the whole sewer line through my entire front yard out to the street. Depending on the depth and location of the line, that would determine the difficulty and therefore the price. But we were probably looking at the $1,000+ mark. Ouch. I remember when talking in $100’s was a big deal. Well $100’s are still a big deal, but when did $1,000’s even become a thing?! Ugh.

Well on Wednesday, I got the news that was even worse. I have a tree in my front yard that was too close to the sewer line. It would have to be removed. Oh and my line is about 10 feet underground… That makes this process a whole lot more complex. And a whole lot more expensive.

This morning I’ve been thinking about all of this. And you know the part that bothers me the most? It’s that I have to remove the tree. I’m not some over the top environmentalist, but I really do love trees. And this is my tree. The first tree that I’ve ever owned! I remember when I bought my house that I walked through my yard and noticed that I have one tree in my front yard, and three in the back. And I remember the emotion that swelled inside me as I realized that those were my trees.

I remember showing my house to a friend shortly after I bought it, before she moved to another state. I could see the joy in her eyes as she took in every detail and was so happy for me. And when we walked to the front yard, she threw her keys to the ground and ran to this tree. She looked at me with big, childlike eyes, “Emily! This is your tree!” She understands me so well.

I long to live in the country again, but this tree reminds me of the country even while I live in town. I think of the shade it provides my little house. How I’ve sat on my porch and looked up into its limbs and to the sky above. I think about mowing my yard and noticing the vines that are starting to grow up its bark. I think about the bazillion times my dog, Mandy has chased a squirrel up it.

I understand that I might sound crazy person, but I really am a sentimental person. I’m realizing that the small things, feel like big things to me. I cling to small details and find great joy in them. I understand that it’s a tree that I’m talking about. But I can’t get another tree like this in my lifetime. Trees take forever to grow. This tree is older than I am. It’s taken so much time and work to get it to the size it is now. I get that I am an adult and I need to take care of business. That my sewer needs to be fixed and a tree needs to be cut down. That I should get over it and move on. And the fact I’m even thinking about all of this could be considered ridiculous.

But if I’m honest with myself, I know that my house won’t feel the same.

I think back to the weeks at the end of my remodel. How I felt disoriented and out of place when I walked into my house. How I even felt violated and unsafe when I saw what the construction workers had left behind. Yes there was new paint on most of the walls. There was new carpet and flooring. New cabinets and countertops. But there was also a mess. My possessions and furniture were not respected and some were broken and ripped.

In my head I knew I should be thankful. My house was WAY better than before. So much money was put towards major updates, and all of it was free to me through the rehabilitation grant money. New windows, new insulation, and new furnace and central air. My upstairs has new drywall and was converted into extra living space. But I partially missed the way it was before. I missed my old, huge kitchen cabinets. I missed the old, familiar smells. I missed the feeling at home in my space that I made so many memories.

I couldn’t appreciate it at first. I felt trapped and regretted it. So much was still left undone. It was still livable, but there were lots of details to finish. And I’m a 25 year old woman, with zero experience in construction. I felt out of control and full of anxiety. My house was ready enough for me to move back in on June 6. I didn’t actually move back in until June 24 and that was only because I had a friend staying with me from out of town for 4 days. We camped in my living room, because things were still not set up. I just couldn’t bring myself to move back in. I couldn’t explain it and I knew it wasn’t rational, but it was where I was at.

Slowly and bit by bit, I tried to put my house back in order. And bit by bit, it again felt like home. It was a slow process, but it happened. As I put pictures on the walls, and bought a new bedspread and put my dishes in my cabinets, my heart started to settle. There are 3 rooms that need to be painted. They still have drywall patches showing through white with the mark of being unfinished. There’s window trim that needs to be patched and the paint fixed. But I feel at home. I feel at peace. Even with a sewer that needs to be replaced.

But I feel the similar anxiety creeping up. I think about how huge of a difference it will make and change the feel of my home if my tree is removed. How I’ll feel exposed and out in the open with nothing to block me from the street. I know it’s irrational, but still I feel it.

I think about the HUGE trench that will have to be dug up through the entirety of the middle of my yard. That I’ll have to see this giant scar down my yard through the winter months. Everything will feel different. Again, I get that it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is.

I also recognize how some of what I’m feeling isn’t just about a tree. But how I cling to things that I am familiar with. How I long to be in control. But also how I’ve never mourned the losses that I’ve faced in my life. How there is a deep well of pain that lies right beneath the surface. That the smallest connection in my everyday life can trigger an emotional response that runs deep. Hmm.

So today is a cloudy, rainy and cold day. It’s a good day to sit in pajamas and think and feel a bit sad. And I think that’s okay. 


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