Late last year, we returned home from one family gathering or another and, as soon as my spouse opened the front door, the most dreadful odor assailed our nostrils. We both winced, and realized our plumbing had failed somewhere between the crawlspace and the wall behind and below the kitchen sink. A call the next day summoned the plumbers, and they duly noted the dreadful conditions under there - one problem cascaded (literally) on top of another, causing a chain reaction of plumbing and structural failure. Thus began a nearly-six month ordeal that nearly drove me to drink, and caused some of the most vivid nightmares in my lifetime.
I contacted our homeowners insurance representatives that night, and within moments had been assigned an adjuster; this wonderful man shepherded us through the process of repairing the extensive water damage, and dealing with the contractor when things turned tough. 'Tough' actually represents the kindest word I could say about almost the entirety of the many months that followed; we referred to this process in far, far more pointed and colorful language.
Unfortunately, this meant everything in the kitchen - from our washer and dryer to our stove and refrigerator and many things in between - migrated into our front bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, and most painfully, the den. Years ago, we built floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on three walls, and my history books quickly took over. Joyously surrounded with books that wrap about me like a glorious cape, I have worked thus for a couple of decades. But, by early January the vast majority of our kitchen goods had found a temporary home in enormous piles on the floor and all other surfaces in the den. The detritus of more than 30 years - nearly all of it kitchen junk - blocked our every move, and we took to sidling along walls or hopping over boxes to move from bedroom to den to kitchen to the rest of the house. Worse than that, the stacks of boxes and appliances mixed in with our everyday living restricted access to my books to near-impossibility.
I'll gloss over the dark comedy of errors except for this point: early in April we had to empty the den kit and caboodle to the front of the house. Since our kitchen flows continuously into the den, they needed to rip up the floor in here as well in order to complete the repairs. Within 48 hours, the room was bare of everything except the books. We'd been utterly uprooted.
Finishing the den and kitchen also meant repainting everything, including the area along the open, top shelf where many of my most prized books reside. The next day, workers filled boxes with them - heavy, heavy boxes. They relaid the flooring by playing a game of "number slide" with all the furniture and boxes we couldn't relocate elsewhere in the house. I had long since taken to working from bed - by far most clear space anywhere in the house - and in that all-too-short opportunity snagged those books most pertinent to my work and dumped them unceremoniously on the bedroom floor. I should have grabbed far more.
As the crew shifted boxes back, especially the book boxes, they piled nearly everything against the bookshelves that contain my particularly important texts. When I finally realized what they had done, I'd already missed my opportunity to direct where they would go, and, since the paint still needed to dry and cure, the books remained in boxes. Eventually, my husband and I sorted through the mess - of course, they'd placed books in boxes in no particular order - and returned most of the books to their rightful places. I could finally pull books as I needed them. Mostly.
The house has remained in uproar; the front bedrooms continue to drive us to despair while we sort through the mess and determine whether items and paperwork must disappear entirely, or be put away somewhere. I'm pretty well convinced our attic will fall down around our ears from the weight of belongings stuffed up there during the trauma. I put the kitchen to rights a while back (for the most part), but the last of the boxes back here sat here blocking the shelves - until last evening. I finally managed to rid ourselves of those oversized and unsightly paperweights, and all but one small box of miscellaneous history "stuff" has been sorted and put away.
Now I am sitting in my reconstituted, new and improved workspace, reveling in the fact I can finally pluck any needed book off the shelf without climbing over furniture, tripping over boxes, or otherwise bashing my shins on appliances and miscellany.
But, those "God only knows" boxes in the front still await. Will they ever disappear?