Two nights ago, I headed down to the basement bedroom to sleep. I’d been hit by a nasty summer cold and didn’t want my coughing to wake my slumbering husband William. So I cuddled up with my old teddy bear Hilda, who lives downstairs, and finally fell asleep.
I was awakened by the sound of water running and thought William must be taking a shower before heading to work. I stretched in bed, my throat sore, my sinuses clogged. But he needed lunch so I got up and checked the clock. 2:57, it read.
“That’s strange, must be wrong,” I thought to myself. So I checked the other clock in the basement, only to find it was, in fact, almost 3 in the morning. But the water, the shower, it was still running, wasn’t it? How could that make sense? Was William sick?
So I ran upstairs, the darkness in the house made velvety by the fact that I didn’t have my glasses on. I got to the base of the stairs leading to the second floor, and heard that the water was even louder. I grabbed the banister and propelled myself upstairs. When I got to the bathroom and turned the light on, I saw the toilet had turned into a fountain, the small kind they put in decorative pools in malls to make shoppers feel like things are fancy. Except this wasn’t fancy, boy, not one bit.
“What the bleep?” I yelled and rushed to turn off the valve at the base of the toilet.
A thick blanket of water was stretching across the floor, extending like syrup into the hallway. I grabbed a towel and it sank, yes sank, into the depths. By then William, who had been sleeping all along, ran upstairs to find out what was wrong. Then he automatically, silently turned, truly pivoted 180 degrees, and ran downstairs to get the Shop-Vac. In the meantime, I ran to the basement to get the old, ugly towels I keep in the laundry room. I flew back upstairs and by then the kitchen, well, it had started raining in the kitchen. As Wm sucked the water up upstairs, I started soaking up the water that was streaming through our hood fan, from the pot lights, down our cupboards.
As I ran to the basement to get our laundry basket to use as a bucket, I saw the water had started dripping through the ceiling there too. Just a little sprinkle, not a shower, but deeply disturbing nonetheless.
I can say now with experience that, unless you’re in the shower, feeling water fall on your shoulders inside your house is not, absolutely not, a good feeling. But here we were, 3 in the morning, wet.
Eventually, we had a bucket, bowl or pan under every dripping area and the water seemed to have mostly fallen. We had just gone back to bed when the oven started going berserk, beeping with increasing frequency so that it sounded, perhaps, like a bomb was about to explode — or at least like someone hadn’t pushed the button in “Lost.” Wm flew back out of bed and ran to turn off the breaker before finally lying back down.
Two days ago, our house was sitting pretty. Not perfect, perhaps, but very pleasing to be inside. Today, I write in the dining room with the entire table surrounded by glassware from the cupboards. Yesterday, three men drove from Indiana with fans and dehumidifiers so loud I keep turning around to see if a plane is about to land. Tubes of plastic filled with hot, dry air now lead up to carved holes in the ceiling of the kitchen and basement to dry what’s above. And my kitchen, my dearly beloved kitchen, is entirely unusable.
But you what the best part is? I warn you: It’s going to sound trite. But throughout it all, I’ve been nothing but thankful. Thankful for my cold that led me to the basement that let me hear the water you couldn’t have heard in the bedroom. Thankful I wasn’t out running errands when the line to the toilet failed. Thankful we weren’t on vacation. Thankful we have house insurance. And most importantly thankful that, though we can expect extensive renovations, it’s just a house, it’s just stuff, William isn’t sick, Gabrielle isn’t either, and if this is the biggest problem we have to face, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.