Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Clown House

It didn’t take long for us to conclude that our new house had been designed by Dr Seuss, and constructed by a team of clowns.

One bedroom has the distinguishing feature of nothing being quite where it’s meant to be. The room only has one single powerpoint, but never fear - the roof just outside the bedroom window has another one. And if you’re looking for the light switch, you won’t find it by the doorframe – it’s a couple of metres down the hallway, but don’t mistake it for the hallway light, like we often did until the bedroom’s owner stuck up a helpful note.

Another bedroom has the dubious claim to fame that it was once a swimming pool, and as such is perfectly round. My own bedroom is accessed by walking through the bathroom, and, like a box inside a box inside a box, to get to the laundry, you walk through my bedroom. The second toilet is in the kitchen, yes, in the kitchen, though it does at least have a door that closes most of the way.

But don’t get the impression that it was just the odd architecture that left us desperately wishing for a time travel machine. We probably could have coped if the house was filthy, or if it was dilapidated, but it was both dilapidated and filthy. 

When we first arrived, furniture and personal belongings were still strewn throughout the house, as though the previous occupants had fled without stopping to pack. I don't blame them. The ceiling in one room is so badly buckled there’s a gap, big enough for a particularly large marsupial or a particularly small man to crawl through. The window sills in the room dubbed “The World’s Worst Library” were hidden by moss growing in clumps of dirt: Zoe declared that it was “like Snow White’s house”, but I was left feeling that if this was a fairytale, I was Cinderella. The first few weeks were spent chipping dirt off the floor with a chisel, wiping great patches of black mould from the wall and scraping away the peeling carpet by my bedroom window. My first day back at uni, I came home to find the toilet blocked, the laundry flooding into my bedroom and the bailiff at the door.

During the first night, when the cobwebs were still thick on the walls and the signed lease was a burden we were forced to bear, we tried to make light of the situation by imagining how a real estate agent would describe the house. “A renovator’s dream” was the obvious slogan, but my favourite was the all-too-true “bags of character”. 

And yet somehow the stars had aligned, because though it took a while to realise, we were definitely destined to be here. In the kind of crazy coincidence that only happens in our home state, our house was once the property of Lyndon’s great-great-great grandfather (and apparently hasn’t been cleaned since he lived here). Not only that, but the house is currently owned by 25 Anonymous Company. Our previous address? 25 Anonymous Street. We were becoming ensnared in a web, and I was surprised to realise that I didn’t want to leave it.

This house will never be beautiful. But, slowly, with each bare wall decorated and each empty corner filled, I’m making it mine. And that’s enough.

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