Nothing. Nothing happened, you clickbaity titles-lovers! Or well, not nothing. A lot of things happened. Taking the bus to the nearby mall at my regular daily toiletry hour happened five days out of seven, for example. Apparently, a LOT of people don’t wash their hands at Ikea..
Life has its twists and turns. Sometimes, you lather yourself in technology, tumbling around in phones and surf pads and mobile chargers and cords that you trip over and you feel very modern when donning fitness trackers that count every step you take and, ahem, exactly how many minutes that nap lasted for. But sometimes it’s time for little more old school versions of life, a gentle reminder of everything we have and all the things we maybe don’t take for granted, but at least rely heavily on in the everyday existence.
Yes, it was time to renovate the drain and sewage pipes allotted to this piece of real estate.
We had hardly awoken from the effort of hosting a party for 42 people when two young men showed up on our door step with huge rolls of white, squishy floor protection plastic, duct tape and an enormous amount of tools, gadgets, beasts and trolls to set loose in our home.
Either it was time to ditch all our pipes, or the local serial killers had become REALLY organized. We chanced it. After being left alone in the house with the two men for a couple of hours and they had mostly just pattered by me, rolling out plastic in what felt like the entire house and disassembling all of our drains, I felt quite sure that they were in fact the pipe-renovation guys.
After quietly huddling in the living room sofa for a few hours, because having strangers messing around in your house is surprisingly unsettling the first days or so, the moment had come. One of the guys peeked in and said; “We’re gonna get stuff rolling now, so you know”.
And I knew.
No tipping coffee remnants in the kitchen sink. No washing one’s hands like normal. No doing laundry. No dish washer. No… flushing the toilet.
Well, now they had actually taken our toilet by then and put it in the hallway upstairs so not using it came quite easily, and if I may say, extremely naturally... But being able to get water into the house but not out the drains though, is a whole other matter. Completely fucks with all your habits. Filling buckets instead of the drains, putting stuff as reminders in the sinks, messing around with buckets of dirty and clean water and keeping track of what you put in what and PLANNING so much, it’s hard man. I’m just glad I didn’t have my period that week, because messing with a menstrual cup would have probably been awful.
But Ellet, you wonder, where ever did you pee (because women don’t poop, right!)?
Well, we were gifted, as a courtesy of the pipe renovation company, a plastic box with a ring and lid with classy double bagging as a replacer for the comfy white porcelain poop-be-gone-magician. I was handed a bucket of wood pellets and a scoop when I around hour six of the guys stealing my toilet went up to the one closest and said; “I’ve heard something about a glorified litter box?”.
And a glorified litter box it was. Also, the only location that I was guaranteed privacy was the garage, so out it went. At least I now know that sitting down on a plastic ring in a garage that holds the quaint temperature of just above freezing feels exactly the same as sitting down on the porcelain ring in our regular bathroom. The things you learn, right?
My biggest challenge was day 3 when I really needed to shower. Still feverish and beat from the cold that had been ravaging my body for a week by then, I couldn’t muster up the strength to take the bus downtown and shower at my old job, or say, my empty apartment. I just couldn’t do it, but I really needed to wash myself.
So what does one do then? Yes. I know you guys know where this is going. Yes. Three buckets of hot water, a small towel, a big towel and soap was carried out into the garage, early as to get myself cleaned up before any dudes in their mid-20’s arrived to possibly pop up anywhere at any time. After careful planning to go from cleanest to dirtiest with the buckets, and only undressing the necessary bits at a time, I was clean! Proudly, I could ascertain that cleaning oneself in a garage in a temperature around freezing, was surprisingly not-terrible. I mean, it wasn’t great. But I did manage to get clean and didn’t freeze much at all. Sometimes I wonder if I actually can carry my Swedish-Finnish mix with some kind of pride.
Litter box to the left, cleaning station post-wash to slight right
The job dragged out for a few extra days because of a little trouble, but we got to the end at last, having been totally without drains from Monday lunch to Friday at 8 PM, and then during office hours Monday-Tuesday the following week. And in all the madness of super loud air compression machines shoving epoxy soaked socks into our pre-war cast iron pipes like female condoms into muffs everywhere, almost soaking one of the guys in coffee because I forgot right at the end that I wasn’t allowed to pour it down the drain, having them running around in our house for eight (EIGHT) long days, machines going RAWR! every 20 minutes twice overnight, and washing myself in the garage in the dark so the neighbors wouldn’t think that the new people in the neighborhood are weird AND exhibitionistic (I mean, I can handle weird), I learned a few things.
I call it sewage chic.
1. You get used to strangers hanging out in your house real fast. And I mean real fast. Three days into it, I constantly forgot they were there as soon as they quieted. I’m sure they heard a TMI conversation or two because.. well, I don’t censor myself at home most of the time.
2. Having to go outside in the middle of the night to pee doesn’t bother me at all as much as I had feared. I have survived camping and now this? Who am I? A REASONABLE person?
3. Hanging out late at night, brushing one’s teeth with one’s partner outside with the water mug on a frozen log, isn’t all that bad. It was one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing. Well, apart from having whole pipes, that is.
4. You’ll spend weeks afterwards opening your eyes in the morning and going “I’m gonna pee this morning! INSIDE!” and really enjoy a luxury tour to the bathroom.
5. If I’m really tired, I can sleep through someone sawing through metal. And then still wake up if a bird jumps around on a branch outside my window the rest of the time. “Okay”.
6. Smoothing the insides of cast iron pipes with diamond studded chains sounds like letting an angry badger loose in the pipes, from a home owner’s point of hearing.
At least all the monstrosities that they dragged in didn’t make the old oil-burner room,
that I’ve dubbed “The horror room”, any WORSE right?