If it was up to me, I would be in bed asleep, but I’m not. This is because I’m a tenant. So my home is not my own.
My head hurts in the -all my internal passages are swollen and sore – kind of way. My body aches as if I have just been hit by a juggernaut. My face looks like a teenager’s in the worst acne out break years – since when did I have TEN spots at once? My limbs are leaden: walking up the stairs feels like the last ten yards of a 24 mile marathon. My ears are buzzing. I feel like I am trying to listen underwater.
It’s only 9 am and I am exhausted. I have been the good mother: woken the kids up, got them breakfast, helped them with homework, made them lunch, seen them off to the bus. I have even walked the dog.
Now, all I want to do is curl up under a massive duvet at the bottom of a very deep dark hole.
But I’m not doing that. Instead I am plodding round the house picking up glasses, making beds, wiping surfaces, cleaning the toilets. I empty the dishwasher and refill it. This is because we have ‘a viewing’ on our rental house this morning.
We are trying to be helpful, saying yes to viewings even when its the last thing I feel like right now. We struggled with unhelpful tennants when we sold our house in the UK. We don’t want to be – those tenants – the ones who only agreed to viewings on a Saturday morning. Also, because we are going before the end of our lease if they can’t relet or sell we remain liable for the rent. So it’s in our interest to be co-operative.
But it doesn’t feel in my interest right now.. I weep with frustration when the vacuum cleaner won’t work. I wipe the kitchen surfaces yet again, but my cleaning is ineffectual and as soon as I look back I can see another place I’ve missed. Anyway its completely impossible to present the house in a good light for viewings since half of it is piled with dismantled furniture and packing boxes ready for our move in 16 days.
I look around and sigh and text the realtor. Tellng her that I”m really sorry but I’m ill so the house is a bit of a state. ‘Don’t worry’ she types ‘I’ll let the other agent know.’
That’s what I hate the most. Not the fact that she missed my subtle plea to cancel the viewing (one a UK agent would definitely have responded to) but the OTHER agent part. The house is not shown by the sellers agent (who deals with us). It is shown by another agent. This means I know nothing at all about the people who (in what is now 10 minutes time) will be wandering round my home looking in my bedroom, bathroom, closets.
I am just expected to vacate the house for an hour while the unknown realator retrieves the key from the drop box outside the front door and shows people around. The realtor could be newly registered from out of area, the viewers could be a family of 10 with small children, who might cut themselves with the packing knife, that I have just noticed lying on the dining room table. This is an additional stress. We have been told by the sellers agent to guard our possessions, to hide or lock up all jewellery and portable electronic devices because you never know who is looking round.
So I stop cleaning and spend my final few minutes hiding jewellery, laptops, ipads. I put the dog in the boot of the car and am out with 2 minutes to spare.
I don’t go far. I mean, I really don’t go far. I drive 1 minute across the road to the parking lot for the park and sit in my car looking back at the house.
I have no energy to go anywhere else and I am hoping they will come and go quickly so I can retreat to bed. I have asked the sellers realtor to text me when they leave. The electronic drop box messages her to let her know when it’s opened and shut. So I plan to sit it out. But after 10 minutes no one has appeared so I get out of the car and walk the dog to a picnic bench. He is being on best behaviour and flops down by my feet as we sit in the hot sunshine and wait.
Eventually two cars pull into the house’s drive. A young sandy haired man comes round the corner to look at the outside of the house. I realise I can’t stay and watch people look through my home. So I get up and trudge slowly round the park with the dog happily wagging his tail beside me.
When I have completed the circuit, I go to sit on the bench directly opposite my house trying to see if they are still there. A car is just pulling away: a young couple in a white BMW. They turn it around in the car park entrance beside me. I can see their faces blank and unmoving . Did they like the house? The other car leaves now. Its 10.10. I await the text to say ‘yes the viewing is over- I can go back’ but after 10 minutes I’ve still heard nothing and there is no sign at the house.
I’m feeling really lightheaded now so I decide to risk it and go back. I walk the dog across then return and get the car. I feel guilty as I park it in the garage 5 mins before I’m supposed to go back in but I really need to lie down.
I fill a large glass of icy water and climb the stairs carefully looking around. Nothing seems to have been taken.
I reach the bed and flop down. What bliss to be horizontal. I tunnel under the duvet. Eyes shut, that syrupy tiredness filling me I start to drift off. Then the banging starts loudly outside the bedroom like someone is using a pick axe to breakthrough the wall.
Oh yes – I forgot to mention- to be helpful – we said the landlords could do some work on the outside of the house before we moved out. May that be a lesson to you – always be clear what you are agreeing to. We meant they could ckean the gutters or work on the garden. They meant they would completely remove and replace the balcony that crosses the whole front of the house and tracks right outside my bedroom window. The bedroom where right now I am desperately trying to sleep. The builders stayed away to not disrupt the viewing, but, now its over, they are back to work with a vengeance.
I pull a pillow over my head and try to will myself 16 days into the future when I will be in my home will be my own and no one will make me leave it or dismantle it around me.