Renter’s Remorse

Last night, after Mike got home from work, we packed up our various suitcases into the office car and moved over to our new house!

We are lucky to have this house… this I know. It’s only been five weeks since we arrived in country – it could have taken us much longer to find a place. And this one has windows, with screens. It has air conditioners. It even has actual shower stalls instead of the toilet showers that are standard here and that leave the bathroom floor, toilet seat, and (frequently) toilet paper, wet for hours.

Our landlords speak excellent English, and have semi-furnished the house with a couple of beds, a fridge, a gas cooker, a microwave, a table and chairs – even a desk and small bookshelf for me. The internet is hooked up and working.

I think, I hope, I will feel safe here during nights that Mike is away in the field.

Yes, logically I know that we are very lucky indeed to have this house. So can someone perhaps explain to me why Mike and I sat at the breakfast table this morning staring glumly into our cereal bowls? (Cereal bowls, I might add, that our accommodating landlords have lent us until our shipment arrives.) And why, as Mike was walking out the door at 7am this morning, did I have to fight the urge to throw my arms around his neck and beg him not to leave me alone here to deal with…

The dead cockroach on the floor by the sink.

A hot water heater in the master bedroom shower that doesn’t work.

Missing toilet seats.

Missing keys for the front door.

Air conditioners in the bedrooms that don’t have the cooling muscle I’d hoped for.

A fridge that’s on the small side.

A posse of roosters just over the back fence that crowed us awake just after five this morning, and a loud and angry dog who apparently hates them as much as we do.

The sheer amount of work that needs to be done to make this place feel like a home.

It’s not as simple as popping out to Target to pick up a drying rack for clothes, or dishwashing detergent, or a couch. I have no transport right now, and there is no Target.

Then I look out this window – the window above the stairs – and I see this. And I remember again that we are lucky, very lucky indeed, to have this house.

Now I have a cockroach to go deal with, but what about you – ever had renter’s remorse?

16 responses to “Renter’s Remorse

  1. i did in kyrgyzstan when we were faced with a soviet style apartment which was decorated by a blind person – every type of texture, all colors, glass mirrors, flowers, roses, tiger stripes, pinks, greens, purples, reds, silver, black, oranges, flamingos – the list goes on and on. Oh, and did i mention the fake roses ALL OVER the place? i counted over 20 plastic vases, which filled the entire closet when i managed to cram them in there.

  2. Would you like to hear about my tukul in Sudan? With generator-only power and ripped screens and cold-water-only showers and the 10-inch lizard that lived in the toilet?

    Hang in there, Lisa! It will become more and more “home” every day!

  3. can you order some things online to make things more bearable? Like a really awesome portable fan and a handheld squirt bottle for water?
    Big hugs to you. Hang in there! And keep writing!!

    • Thanks Briana! when our shipment arrives there’ll be some more homey stuff – including a really awesome fan. And maybe one day I’ll even test out whether Amazon delivers here.

  4. Yes! Tukul’s in Sudan and flamingos in Kyrgyzstan, awesome!! That reminds me of all the stuffed animal’s in my friend, Kristen’s, house in Croatia. REAL stuffed animals – foxes, birds, bats, all dusty and mouldy and glaring out at you from every corner.

  5. Why so glum? Is it because you have reached that pause, that intake of breath between the whirlwind of packing/leaving/going/arriving limbo…. and the reality of Life in Laos?

    All that MK transition stuff we are good at…. we know how to do that… and then we find ourselves Actually There, about to face the day-in, day-out. Sometimes I just have to hold on and breathe at that point, while my head and heart catch up with my body.

    So… take it one thing at a time…. and breathe in between.

    Cheering for you and Mike, though we’ve never met!


    • Thank you for the cheering! Yes, perhaps it’s the pause. Perhaps it’s the fact that until you live in the place you are going to call yours for a while you’re still floating, and you can pretend that in YOUR house the taps won’t leak, and the hot water heaters will work, and everything will be… perfect. Oh, and that you won’t have to do any actual work to get it that way :). Surely.

  6. For me, it would also have to do with the fact that I’m not working, I’m the girl, and, by default, I’m the one at home to “make house”. I hate being put into stereotypical gender roles — even if it makes sense in the circumstance. It will feel better soon. Really, it will. Stuff will get fixed. Your own stuff will arrive. And one fine day you will catch yourself feeling all comfy and cozy in YOUR HOUSE. 😀 Thinking of you.

    • Yeah, I think the stereotypical gender role thing will be greatly helped by the procuring of (leans in close and whispers very softly so no one else can hear… “house help”). Luckily for me, it’s common practice here to have someone help with cleaning, laundry, etc. Which I both feel a little conflicted about, and think is just awesome. Hope you are feeling much better by the way.

  7. Oh, Lisa. My friend I would be processing exactly as you are – except with a lot of whining to go along with it. Or maybe a chicken dinner to boot after I killed myself a rooster.

    The worst home we’ve ever occupied was for a missionary assignment in the Mississippi Delta. (No location as exotic as yours..ha!) It had three rooms with one window A/C. It was never cooler than 86 degrees the entire summer and I had 2 babies with me. So I guess for some perspective, be glad you didn’t have to take young children along.

    I’m also thinking of the mileage all your experiences build into your writing. That’s why I love to read your stuff. So rich and textured! Hang in there sister!

    • Ugh. Mississippi with summer heat, one piddly AC and two kids. I am pretty sure I would not be coping at all well. Yes, little kids would sure have made this last eight weeks of upheaval much tougher, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for coming by, and I hope everything’s going well for you two L’s – it doesn’t sound like it’s been an easy season for you at all.

  8. Michelle Williams

    Ah, you forgot to mention the TV that the owners provided for you! How TELLING of the differences between you and I sister 🙂 Just think – now, when you do get a chance for another date night, you can watch your blurry dubbed movie on a screen larger than a sheet of paper. And as for the cockroaches… seriously… you’re complaining about a solitary dead cockroach? Bangladesh with its dozens of coackroaches… Zim with its cat-sized rats… the USA with its… ummmm… hmmm… yeah, guess I should stop there huh? I KNOW you can handle it 🙂

    • Yes, I did totally forget the TV – which works, too. I turned it on today.

      And shhhh… you’re not supposed to point out to the whole wide world that we’ve had it much worse at other times. Gosh, do you REMEMBER those Bangladesh cockroaches? I do. They looked remarkably like that scary creature in the swamps in The Princess Bride.

  9. Renters remorse… hmm… I can recall a certain house I moved into with somebody’s now-husband in PNG which had been burgled (repeatedly) in the preceeding weeks, alone, with no power and no security- which you may recall I mourned in this post…

    Which was written before I moved into the next option, which had a one-inch gap beneath the front door and wherein I slaughtered 75 cockroaches in a single night…

    Ah the memories… :o)

    • Ah yes, I remember this post well. I laughed all the way through it. I also remember going out to Mike in the gazebo around this time, after I saw a facebook post of yours on his profile, and telling him I had good news and bad news.

      “The good news is that the rascals haven’t stolen your underwear,” I said to him. “The bad news is that Tristan is wearing it. He says it’s comfy.”

  10. Hee hee… I’m fairly sure I won’t get tired of hearing that story. I think I knew then that you and I were going to be friends. 🙂

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