Three months shy of three years ago, I first wrote about what it felt like to bring Sasha home from the hospital after an episode of encephalitis. Then, it had been ten weeks away at the wars; now, we are coming home after six months. Then, we were all newcomers to the field of battle; now, as veterans, our expectations are indelibly sharpened and darkened by memories of the last three years.  

But one thing is the same: again, our house is falling down.

For six months people have been sleeping at West Club Blvd., but no one’s really been living here. There is a meandering pile of garbage by the back door that urgently belongs at the dump; small trees are sprouting from the rain gutters on the front porch. Three cracked panes of glass are taped over with cardboard. The refrigerator growls unpleasantly and discharges a steady stream of water into the kitchen. My recliner no longer reclines. Every light bulb, indoors and out, mounted higher than seven feet off the ground is burned out. The bathroom sink provides only scalding hot water. Everything that was once white – couches, curtains, risers – is smudged and grey. Three bins overflow with unsorted mail.  Piles of things that need to be sorted to be useful – medicines old and new, clothes outgrown and outworn, broken toys and faded colors, block doorways and demand immediate attention in every room.

Like returning to a house through which a flood recently flowed,  I’m feeling it might be easier to tear down and start over than reclaim it as home. But obviously, fixing all this is a guy’s job, and I am that guy. I asked Jonathan Weiner to help me. We  had to start somewhere, so we started yesterday with the cold water faucet. The first new faucet had a defective valve and needed to be disassembled and taken back. The extension tube on the second was too wide; the third extension tube was too long and needed trimming with a hack saw.  After two days and three trips to Home Depot, we still have no water; but I have the satisfying frustration of overcoming ordinary household problems. Sasha spent a couple hours out in the sunshine, and now is watching UNC basketball. Our dog got a good walk and is fast asleep on her new bed.

The here and now is the secret sauce. What more could I ask?