(This grand Victorian was what we were shooting for, but unfortunately, we missed the mark by a mile… Photo courtesy of annienomiss.tumblr.com).
OK, this happened many years ago, when we lived in a 3-story Victorian that needed a ton of work. Old windows with rope pulleys, horsehair plaster, and a big old boiler in the basement were some of its signature pieces.
Who knows why we bought that house? Stupid and young, perhaps, never realizing that “old” in homes means “costs a fortune to replace or repair.” We actually harbored the illusion we’d transfigure it into the Northern version of “Gone with the Wind’s” Tara.
In any case, our home could have been the model for the wickedly-funny movie, “The Money Pit.” The only difference? We had no money, so things went undone.
But sometimes a house howls its protests anyway. That’s when everyone sits up and takes notice.
One late afternoon, my husband and I sat in the living room, while our older one rode her bike in the neighborhood, and the younger one played nearby. Dinner was a good hour away and we tried to unwind from our jobs, watching the local news. Suddenly, the house shook, violently.
I said, “Wow! What was that?” Husband answered, “What?” I said, “You’re kidding me… You didn’t feel that?” (as I inwardly pondered: “Why do the men in my life always make me feel as if I live in an alternate universe?)
He looked at me quizzically as if he couldn’t fathom what I was talking about. Determined to check out what I considered to be the root cause of the problem, I headed towards the basement. When I opened the cellar door, I was met with soft white silt floating eerily through the air.
I called out to Husband: “Come and look at this.” When he joined me, we both descended the steps and saw what had happened: The front had blown clean off the boiler, hitting the opposite basement wall so hard it shattered the wall and ‘it’ into a thousand fragments, causing this amazing dust-up everywhere.
Thank God no one was down there when it happened.
So, what he thought was “Nothing,” turned out to be the entire façade of a 100-year-old furnace blown off. When the gas company arrived, they called the episode ‘a fluke.’ Somehow, pressure built up (no kidding), and the normal escape mechanism got stuck. End result: Our basement resembled the Sahara Desert.
But that event told me that people react in totally different ways to crises, and from what I’ve experienced: “Some prefer to occupy that zone of “It didn‘t happen at all.”
The other day, when the earthquake hit the Eastern seaboard, thousands (maybe millions) disbelieved what they felt, despite the fact the jolt was powerful. And since such a jolt in this region defied usual explanations, folks did what they always do in all such circumstances: They made up their own version of events, tweeting and chatting across the internet.
Some felt their pet had gotten into mischief in another part of the household (had to be a REALLY big pet); others felt a jet had broken the sound barrier (most plausible reason offered); another segment believed our country was under attack in 9/11 mode, while a select few (who always question their reality) believed “Nothing happened.”
Husband-of-Many-Years-Ago would have aligned with that group.
This recent event of the earthquake got me to thinking: Perhaps everyone’s reality is skewed to one’s own belief system….and maybe ‘reality’ isn’t ‘real’ at all…it’s just each person’s interpretation (I think some philosophers adhere to this school of thought?)
When I start thinking like this, however, my brain begins to hurt because then I consider: “So what’s ’accurate’ in history?” “Who are the villains and who are the good guys?” “What’s the real truth?” (probably based on who’s telling).
In the end, I’m encouraged by how well things go in our world, despite our shortcomings. I realize, too: Maybe it’s best I don’t think too deeply about any of this, anyhow.
***So, what camp are you in? Where were you when the EARTHQUAKE hit (or did you even notice it?) Share your thoughts at Comments or Leave a Comment…
Here’s a Second Empire home (1872) that shares some features with a “Victorian”? Cut-outs and gingerbread design and dental molding along the top ridge…This Lovely Lady’s ‘For Sale’ on Wampanoag Trail, in Barrington, Rhode Island, represented by Residential Properties.