DLE Retreat Alum and Breakfast Club regular Kate Lauzon started the year with two lofty goals—get a new job and buy a house. Well before year’s end, she achieved both. She advanced her career, taking the position of Commercial Producer at Marcus Coleman, Financial Service Representative, Cross Insurance, in Pittsfield, MA. And she closed on the purchase of her first home, a Victorian-era residence in Pittsfield.
In this article, Kate shares her joys of homeownership. Or at least, the learning process that comes with it.
It’s true, in first-time homeowner land, I’m discovering that trying to fix small things sometimes creates huge issues that go on for weeks—or even months. So how did wanting hotter water in my shower turn into more than a month without a shower? Better yet, how was I able to turn this mess into a proactive and healthy way to take care of myself?
I am two months into owning my house and getting to know its quirks. What I’ve discovered is that the water is insanely hot in every faucet, except the upstairs shower.
I’m a big fan of hot showers, so I needed to remedy this situation. I watched YouTube videos on the situation, following instructions to shut the water off in the basement and unscrew the parts to get to the mixing valve. Doing so, I noticed that two ‘O’ rings needed to be replaced. After three days, many phone calls, trips to hardware stores and plumbing supply stores and googling to find schematics (none to be found), I finally found the part. In the meantime, with no operating shower, I took to bathing in my clawfoot tub in the downstairs bathroom. It’s not super convenient to fill up a tub every day, but at least we can stay clean.
I set out to put the valve back together—and hit a wall. The assembly, which is over 30 years old, literally crumbled. You can insert whatever expression or meme here that properly expresses my frustration at this point. Well, I thought to myself, it can’t be that hard to replace the whole valve, can it?
Back to the plumbing store to find a valve—not just the valve though, the trim and handle as well, because absolutely nothing is interchangeable! I was handed a catalog from which to order an entirely new assembly. By this point, I’d been without a shower for a week. There were so many choices, and I wanted to stick as close to the Victorian charm of my house as possible. I quickly discovered that brass is the most expensive finish. I was able to find one I liked. It doesn’t match the other bathroom fixtures exactly, but it matches my budget. Now came the challenge of getting a plumber to install it. That, I discovered, is a much more daunting task. Oh, and not to mention that there’s no access panel to get to the plumbing in the wall behind the shower…. so I have to cut a hole in the wall and the built-in cabinet before we can replace the shower parts.
Why am I not pulling my hair out and cursing the homeowner gods? I might have been if not for a clawfoot tub that’s big enough to cover my knees and chest. For three weeks, bathing—not showering—became my routine. This required time management adjustments.
The changes that have come from making time to fill the tub and then soak have actually caused me to slow down and enjoy a few minutes to myself. As I soak, I drop my worries and stresses into the water that surrounds me. I scrub all the moodiness and anger of the world off my body. I lie back and completely cover myself in warmth as I usher in the new day.
When I’m ready, I let the water out. But I don’t get up right away. I stay put and let all those terrible feelings and hurts flow around me and down the drain. I can feel the pull of gravity taking all of this away from me and out of me. When all the water is gone and only a few bubbles remain, I feel lighter – emotionally and physically. A calmness persists and I am ready for the day.
At this point, I ask myself: Do I want to get my shower finished? Do I want to lose this practice of calming my heart, my mind and my body? Sure, I would like the water back in my second-floor shower. But what started as a looming annoyance became an unexpected exercise for improving my well-being. Who knew?
While I am tired of looking at a hole in my wall, I seem to have fixed a hole in myself.