{lessons learned}

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


this post is part of my 30 day detox.
click here to read more about turning negative into positive!

life in the duplex

if you are reading this and you know me in real life, you already know what this post will be about.

that is what i love about the duplex.

liz and i on the "front porch" where we spend many nights
drinking wine and talking in british accents
{hence the wine glass in the flower pot next to me}
the duplex is where i lived most of the years between moving out of my parent's house and moving to another state. it was bought by my uncle bobby (who blogs here and is my dad's brother) in 2003 or somewhere thereabouts. one side of it was empty and he remodeled it top to bottom and moved his mom (hitherto referred to as mimi) in there to live free of rent.

the other side housed what can only be named "the nastiest people ever. living in it. for a while he couldn't do anything about it because they paid their rent on time. i think they finally quit paying their rent or bobby jacked it up so they couldn't afford it and had to move out. this is where i enter the picture.

my friend liz and i were told we could move into the duplex at a "discounted rent rate" (psh) if we would help him out by cleaning it out and fixing it up a bit. he even said we could choose the paint colors! we thought we were being given the deal of the century.


so in august of 2003, in texas, without electricity, we started working on the duplex.

to say it was hot would be a gross understatement. it was miserable.

he bought a new refridgerator and oven and when we moved the old appliances out we found hamburgers, brushes, dirt, dog poop, dog hair, mold, dead animals and the remnants of what could only be described as general ick and muck on the floors underneath.

oh - you think i am joking? not so much.

we sanded dog poop off of door frames and set off roach and flea bombs to kill the fleas that infested the 30 year old carpet (that bobby refused to replace. ugh thinking about walking on that carpet now makes me gag.)

i cannot believe that i laid down on that carpet. see how grungy it is!?
and this is "airplane!" which is dumb but liz and i did it all the time.
we scrubbed years worth of grease and food particles off the kitchen cabinets before painting them white. we patched and painted all the doors that had holes punched in them. there were many more disgusting stories about the month we spent cleaning, disinfecting and painting the duplex. i will spare you.

then liz and i moved in. we lived there for about a year i would say. to be honest those memories are pretty fuzzy due to the massive amount of alcohol you were required to consume to disinfect your body from the mold, sand and blech that leached out of that 30-year old carpet. but we ended up having to find a house big enough for us and our three dogs so we moved out and my grandpa jett (who was my mom's father) moved in.

this is a great picture of the paint color we chose.
a lovely flesh with great pink undertones.
i'm not sure exactly what we were thinking. come to t
hink of it i think my mom picked that color.
grandpa jett got the gold treatment. bobby finally pulled all the carpet out and we literally vacuummed about an inch and a half deep layer of sand off the floor. he had laminate floors put in, ceramic tile replaced the nasty carpet in the bathrooms, and he had the place profesionally cleaned i think.

these are the laminate floors that replaced the nasty carpet.
if you look past the demolished pillow that is.
grandpa jett lived there for about 8 months i think. until my mother went to check on him and found him in the kitchen. he had a heart attack and died instantly.
i moved back in to the duplex. i lived there with several roommates (including liz, a boyfriend, another girlfriend, and finally the girl who would become my sister-in-law) before i got engaged in november of 2007.

liz and me singing "a whole new world to our
dog mabelle in the duplex living room.
my husband and i lived in the duplex for about ten months before we moved to louisiana. now my brother and his wife live there. (read about that adventure here)

the cabinet my sister in law painted and also a good
depiction of the color she and my brother painted after
chris and i moved out
i guess it is what you would call a family affair. if the words "the duplex" are mentioned it seems everyone in our home town knows what those words mean and where it is.

{lesson learned}

i always viewed the duplex as a temporary thing. it was nothing to take care of - just a phase of life i was passing through. i never cleaned it. my excuse was "why should i? it just gets dirty thirty seconds from the dirt that puffs up out of the carpet after ever step!" it looked raggedy so i let it be raggedy.

i was certainly not proud of it. i was embarassed by it and the state it was in. to me it told people i was just a low-class citizen for living in a duplex. only "trashy" people lived in duplexes and i would have rather not been associated with them.

{i know that many fine, upstanding citizens live in duplexes so before you click away i will explain. if you lived in the duplex you would have seen our street. a street of trashy duplexes. the street where cops drove up and down at least three times a day. the street where a cloud of yellow smoke hung permanently above the meth house next door. the street where there was at least one screaming argument in the front yard every day. it is on that street}

one afternoon my mom came to visit. as usual there was a fine layer of sand from the carpet over everything, trash overflowing in the kitchen trash can and the toilets needed to be scrubbed. she took one look around the duplex, looked at me and said...

"have some pride in where you live"

and turned around and left. she wouldn't even come in. that hurt. that hurt worse than the feeling of embarassment that i associated with the duplex. it echoed between my ears endlessly. it wrenched my gut. i still get a tangled up inside feeling when i think about that day.

but it taught me something.

no matter where you live, what you have, or how much of anything you have... take pride in it. God chose to give it to you. you were given a place to live. it may not be what you want or what you love but it is so much more than some people have.

take pride in the fact that you have somewhere, albeit small and cramped, lacking storage and natural light, to call home. to come home every day and kiss your husband on the cheek and rub a dog between the ears. be thankful you have food to prepare and a kitchen to prepare it in. give thanks for the water heater and tiny bathtub with the questionable stains where you took a hot shower in the mornings.  be thankful for a place that allowed you to live next door to your mimi for so long, where she would leave fresh baked banana bread on your doorstep. give thanks for being part of a legacy.

i never thought it would happen but i shed more than a few tears the day i emptied out the duplex and packed it into a moving truck. whether i liked it or not, i had sewn so many memories into the walls of the duplex that it was hard to leave. it stopped being the duplex.

it had become home.

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