Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Cuckoo's Nest

If a house breathes with the life of its inhabitants then mine just exhaled.  The occupation is over.  My exile has come to an end.

For six months, my house was rented to a woman whose pent up nesting urges filled my home with so much stuff that not a single surface was visible in any room of the house.
She invaded my cupboards, cabinets, and closets and co-mingled our belongings into a jumble of treasure and junk that looked like a packrat's paradise. Christmas decorations, religious shrines, seashells, and candles everywhere.  An air of lunacy and woo woo hung throughout the house. She violated boundaries that any reasonable short term renter would find irrational.  She replaced shelves of my books with her own. She moved or  re- hung pictures and artwork on the walls,  moved furniture into the garage, and lined the threshold of the front door with dead flowers.

In the front of our house, red, white, and blue bunting hung from the windows along with a Christmas flag. The yard was cluttered with angels, a gazing ball, and sea glass. Holiday confusion in the month of April. The neighbors were happy to see us.

I might have found within me the slightest bit of compassion had it not been for the fact that she had so violated my privacy.  Now I realize that renting a house furnished leaves one vulnerable and I should have locked away every personal belonging - lesson learned. However, I had rented the house for months without incident. When I confronted her she responded quite matter of factly,
"I told you I was a decorator."
Silly me.
So this gave her the license to pull out my personal possessions and re-purpose them in unimaginable ways? In her mind it did.

It was both fascinating and disturbing - like looking into one of those warped mirrors in the fun house.
A wacky way of seeing the world.

It was my housekeeper, though, who said it best in a text message to me:
"Your house need you."

I realized it really wasn't the things that bothered me. It was her presumption and invasion of my space that got to me. When I suggested I go through the house to separate my things from hers so as not to have my things unintentionally packed up with hers when she moved out, she said she did not want her house dismantled.

Her house?
She, who had already dismantled my house?

Wars are fought over territory.  These were fighting words and any shred of compassion on my part went out the  bunting-draped window.  I had reached my limit. I was at the end of my patience.

All of a sudden, the crystal heart given to me by a friend, that had been carried from the dining room side-board drawer up the stairs to the back of the house and placed in the little marble box from a bookshelf in the office and then moved into the back bedroom to be displayed on a dresser with her rosary beads became a symbol for the whole mess.
She had touched, searched, foraged, and moved nearly every single item in my house and it flat out made me mad.
She had to go.
And I needed to come home.

All's well that ends well.  I have reclaimed my house and my table tops.  My rooms have been put back in order. The bunting is down and probably won't see the light of day for another year.  The neighbors have seen enough of it.
As for the crystal heart -
it will always be a  reminder that
Home is where the heart is!